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Brickyard Road by Johnny Van Zant

Album: Brickyard RoadReleased: 1990
  • This is about Van Zant's older brother Ronnie, who was killed in a plane crash in 1977. Ronnie was the lead singer of Lynyrd Skynyrd; Johnny took over after his death.
  • Brickyard Road is where Ronnie, his wife Judy, and his daughter Melody lived when he was killed on October 20,1977. (thanks, John - Jacksonville, FL)
  • This makes reference to "Freebird," the Lynyrd Skynyrd classic that came to symbolize Ronnie Van Zant after his death.
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Comments: 20

Eventually the county workers gave up replacing it and ended up spraypainting the name on the concrete electricity pole next to the road. There must be a hundred of those green streetsigns floatin around. Maybe I'll see one on ebay some day...Stace - Safety Harbor, Fl
THanks Carin- It was so cool reading about ol Brickyard Road. I lived at the end of College Drive for 12 funass years. Our woodsy house sat at the end of Tara Farms Drive and my brother, sis, and I wod spend copius amounts of time ridin our four wheelers out to Black Creek and hangin out. Everyone always talked about the boys making music out there off the water, but I've never actually seen it in print. That explains why for years the county codn't keep the Brickyard Road green streetsign from gettin stolen in the night.Stace - Safety Harbor, Fl
I grew up spending a lot of time on Brickyard Road, between the ages of 13 and 17 (1980-1985) me and a bunch of my friends I spent a lot of time swimming , drinking and just hanging out. I do know a lot about this place and the history behind the song, Brickyard Road by Ronnie Van Zant. The song was written and performed by by Donnie Van Zant and is a tribute to Donnie's brother, Ronnie, who died in a plane crash in 77'. And I know, most of you already know this.

The "three of us" I think refers to the eldest of three brothers Ronald "Ronnie" Wayne Van Zant of the rock group "Lynyrd Skynyrd"), Donald "Donnie" Van Zant of the rock group "38 Special" the middle brother, and Judy Van Zant (Ronnie's second wife) and "little Melody tagging along" refers to Ronnie and Judy's daughter, Melody Van Zant (Tammy was Ronnie's first daughter). There is a photograph of these three walking down the road, Melody tagging along, which leads me to believe he was referring to these three, although it could also be a reference to the three brothers, as I'm sure the three brothers walked the roads together with Melody as well.

The song is about the loss of Ronnie and remembering the good times they had walking down the road they lived, down Brickyard Road, and fishing together on Doctor's Lake in Orange Park, Florida. No, the home is not actually IN Jacksonville, FL. as it is widely suggested, although Orange Park is just a few miles south of Jacksonville, and being the most familiar of the two cities, it is said that Brickyard Road is in Jacksonville, a small misconception, but worth clearing up.

"When I hear that whistle blow, It carries me back To Brickyard Road" The "whistle blow" was not a hunting whistle (I don't know where this rumor originated from) it actually refers to the train whistles blowing from the trains that pass by on the tracks at Brickyard Road; the train track is very near Ronnie's old house (which is no longer there).

The Brickyard Road music video was recorded at the location where Ronnie and his family lived; included in the video images is Brickyard Rd. - the road at the RR crossing leads to the road where they lived (not exactly ON Brickyard Rd. but just OFF it) - the land where the "Grey ‘55 Chevy, parked in the front yard" is parked on the land where Ronnie's home was (or just behind this) - the dock where Ronnie is setting is the actual dock in the backyard on Doctor's Lake (FYI- the lake flows into the St. Johns River). And so, if anyone is curious, the music video was recorded at the actual location on and off of Brickyard Road in Orange Park, Florida.
I'd been there a few times and walked through the house (between 1980-1986). Of course at this time they no longer lived there, the home was still standing, however it had been badly damaged by graffiti and had holes in the walls. I wish that I would have thought to take pictures, but I guess at that age you don't really think of such things.

Brickyard Road was once a Brick yard (evident by small piles of broken red brick that lay stuck in the sand upstream where a spring fed a semi-large water hole just off of Brickyard Road. I spent most of my time as a youth here with my friends, having bonfires, swimming and playing (and as I grew older, drinking and partying). This small lake and the land surrounding it was owned by a man I knew only by the name "Old Man Spencer". I can recall one day him catching us at the entrance of the road and telling us that he didn't mind us going down to the water to play, but he made us promise to clean up the land afterwards. We kept that promise to him, but I assume there were others that didn't, because around the year 1984 (I think it was) he placed a lock and chain across the dirt roadway to keep people out. It was at that point we could no longer drive our trucks to the lake, however, we were able to park and walk down there. That lasted through one or two more summers. I never went back after 1986. The land has since been sold and new homes now set in the area, I assume Mr. Spencer had passed just before the land was being cleared, or perhaps earlier, I'm not really sure, I was busy with growing up and didn’t pay much attention to it then. This song takes me back to that carefree time in my life, some of my fondest memories were there, and I’ll never forget the people that were there with me.
Carin - Orange Park, Fl
Yeah, now I wanna go visit Brickyard Road in Jacksonville. And nah, I think it DOES symbolize the relationship the 3 brothers held and the memories Johnny and Donnie held of their eldest brother (his infamous hunting whistle (..."When I hear that whistle blow...") which can be heard in "That Smell", Ronnie's old '55 Chevy, and fishing with Ronnie on their dock)Will - Waterloo,
I understand---losing a loved one----brother, sister, parent, child---or a friend----it takes time to heal and feel like you can smile again----Beth - Highland Park, Nj
You can also download this song from amazon.com Only 99 cents!Suz - Findlay, Oh
This song definitely refers to the three brothers. VH1 has a video of it on their site. http://www.vh1classic.com/view/artist/18411/54023/VanZant_Johnny/Brickyard_Road/index.jhtml I lived in St. Louis at the time this was released. Loved it then....love it now. What an awesome tribute with the "Freebird" sound in the background.Suz - Findlay, Oh
ronnie vanzant will always be skynyrd! r.i.p guy we all love you and will NEVER forget you. thank you for the music i listen to everydy of my life.Donna - Canton, Oh
what about tammy?? how old was she and what happenen to her and her mother please!!!!!!!!! email me i have looked and looked and found nothing.chrst44hm@aol.com thank you much!!!!Donna - Canton, Oh
tim .. thank you for the info ! email on the info i appreciate it !!!!!!!Donna - Canton, Oh
this song is so sad but great, just wondered why he didnt put tammy in it to.been trying to find info on here but get nowhere.they have their reasons i shouldnt question any of it.i have seen pics of tammy and melody and i must say... yep those are his daughters.if you have any more info please let me know about them.chrst44hm@aol.com thanksDonna - Canton, Oh
i seen them thurs at blosom and they blew me away!! i think its awsome they show ronnie in their slides.my 16 and 14 yr old went with me and now all they want to listen to is their music.i wore a ronnie vanzantshirt their.im 34 yrs old and i felt him there.the show rocked!!i give all of them credit for what they do.they remember who skynyrd was and thats great to me. these guys have not forgot who and why they are here.Donna - Canton, Oh
THIS IS A GREAT TRIBUTE SONG TO RONNIE VAN ZANT,THOUGH I MUST ADMIT IT IS SO SAD. GREAT SONG JOHNNY NOT SINGLE DAYS GO BY WHEN I DON`T THINK ABOUT RONNIE AND THE INFLUENCE HE HAD ON MY LIFE.Rob - Maspeth, Ny
"thank god for ronnie van zant",not a day goes by when i don`t think about ronnie and the influence you had on my life. fly high free bird you`re free at last please say hello to leon,allan,lacy,cassie,for me and you would be very proud of johnny he`s doing a great job.Rob - Maspeth, Ny
to clear up a few questions on this song please read on. the song was influenced by the last time the brothers were together, Ronnie, Donnie(38 special) and johnnie who at the time was 16 or 17. people magazine was doing an article on the 3 brothers. those are the three referred to in the lyrics. the song was on a johnnie vanzant solo record, thats why you don't hear lynyrd skynyrd doing the song in concert. by the way ronnie alway said of the three johnnie had the best voice.Tim - Sparkle City, Mi
I was betewwn the ages of 4-6 when I first heard this song, At the time not realy understanding the story of it, but liking the fact that in the song he was rembering the good times I thought that Melody was like a little sister to one of the guys. I just learned on this sigth that she was Ronnie's doughter. Now the song Hits home majorly for me, For when ever I think of this song I think of My oun mom she died in 1991 the 6th of jan. I was 6 and fixxin to be 7 in less than a month.

I got the chance to see the band play back in 2000-2001 some time back then, anywhoo My sister and I wanted to hear this song played live but they never played it. This was next to the fair grounds in Dothan,AL It was a good concert though.
I have been looking for this song on tape or cd and can not find it can any one help if they know whare or how to get it please post a note.
Holly - Spokane, Wa
One more note.... Melody was barely a year old when her daddy died....John Smith - Jacksonville, Fl
It refers to the "three of us." Obviously, that would include Ronnie (who the song is about) and Johnnie (who wrote the song). But the third person could be Ronnie's wife Judy. Especially since Donnie didn't live there but she did. Also especially since it immediately mentions "little Melody" tagging along. I don't know this for sure, but I think the memory might be of Johnnie visiting Ronnie and Judy at their home, where Melody would obviously be close by.John Smith - Jacksonville, Fl
I love this song
You have been through alot and have wrote great songs
have fun and just love what you do and i will too
Farryn - Bonners Ferry, Id
Melody is the daughter of Ronnie Van ZantLisa - Belchertown, Ma