Although technically filed as a "rock" band, Lynyrd Skynyrd has always had equally strong ties to the country world. First of all, the group was redneck to the core, rebel, and proud of it. Secondly, they're the undisputed grandfathers of that genre known as "southern rock," which means basically that nothing they've recorded would sound terribly out of place at your average honky tonk. And heck, the suriving Van Zant brothers even gave up all pretense a few years ago and put out two fine, pure-country albums.
Furthermore--and probably most telling--Skynyrd's influence can be best heard these days not so much in modern rock circles, but rather in today's upstart outlaw-country artists; ones who are not afraid at all to throw a hefty punch of hard swagger into their traditional twang.
A fantastic demonstration of this is a new tribute album that was released on Tuesday, Sweet Home Alabama--The Country Music Tribute To Lynyrd Skynyrd. The tracklisting includes Skynyrd covers by some of country's edgiest (and award-winning) names: Randy Houser, Jamey Johnson, Eric Church, the Eli Young Band, Shooter Jennings, Uncle Kracker, Randy Montana, and Ashley Ray.
And, the result is not just a great take on a classic band, it's also simply one fun summertime album. It's clear the artists involved really enjoyed putting their personal spins on these well-known tunes.
Randy Houser, who chose "Simple Man" for the tribute, says it was a kick covering one of his most-beloved musical influences. "I don't know how many tapes I wore out of Skynyrd as a kid," he notes. "That's music. That's really a music biography for people like me who grew up playing music, especially in the South.
"Lynyrd Skynyrd is rock and roll. But I ain't never seen a country boy that didn't love some Lynyrd Skynyrd," he continues. "I have so much Skynyrd influence in the stuff that I write and play. But...it's considered country to me. There's a very, very fine line between Merle Haggard and Lynyrd Skynyrd to me."
"Those guys have so much soul. That music always spoke to me a whole lot, just like it does to so many millions of people."
When asked which of his own songs best demonstrates the Skynyrd influence, Houser replies simply, "All of them!"
Besides his cover of "Simple Man," Houser thinks Jamey Johnson's rendition of "Four Walls Of Raiford," the Eli Young Band's "Gimme Three Steps," and Randy Montana's "Tuesday's Gone" are particular standouts on the record.
Me? I'm boring, but I like the whole thing. You can order a copy here--be sure to let me know what you think!
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