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Simple Man by Lynyrd Skynyrd

Album: Pronounced Leh-nerd Skin-nerdReleased: 1973
  • Shortly after Ronnie Van Zant's grandmother and Gary Rossington's mother died, they got together in Van Zant's apartment and started telling stories about them. Rossington came up with a chord progression, and Van Zant wrote the lyrics based on advice the women had given them over the years. They wrote it in about an hour.
  • Even though the lyrics state, "Sit beside me, my only son," Ronnie was not the only son. He had 2 younger brothers along with one older sister and one younger sister.
  • This appears on the soundtrack to the movie Almost Famous. (thanks, Aaron - Twin Cities, MN, for above 2)
  • Skynyrd producer Al Kooper didn't like the way this was coming out, so the band recorded it without him and had him add his organ part later. He didn't think they should release it, but realized he was wrong when it went over so well with their fans.
  • When Skynyrd toured in 1987, they dedicated this to Van Zant.
  • The studio and live versions of this song are tuned to different keys. The studio is in Ab while the live is the key of A. (thanks, Bryant - Salina, KS)
  • The Heavy Metal band Shinedown recorded an acoustic version. The Deftones also covered it on their B-Sides And Rarities CD. (thanks, Aaron - Twin Cities, MN)
  • Frontman Johnny Van Zant discussed this song in a track-by-track commentary to promote the band's 2010 CD/DVD Live From Freedom Hall. He said: "Well that's a great song and something that I think we all live by. I think anybody out there needs to respect their mother, and the words of their mother. It's mama talking to you in that song and I think it's probably one of my favorite's if not my favorite to do live. It's just a great song and that one stays in the set and the crowd always goes crazy on that one."
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Comments: 57

As good as it gets. I am sure I am not the only one who will be having this played at their funeral. All about doing your best every day, no matter where you are at in your life, always keep your values true and you will be satisfied.Drew - Ville, Tx
I have loved LS for as long as I can remember! My ONLY Son is almost 2 now, he is really learning how to talk and he just makes me so proud. So the other day we are driving to work and he is in the back seat singing with all his little heart "Simple Man". Mostly is was humming but he was trying and it's was so cute!!Aleta - Baltimore, Md
My one and only son got married last night and this was the song he chose for the mother/groom dance...I will cry every time I hear it from now on...Cindy - Sioux Falls, Sd
Every Time I hear this song I become very excited I absolutely love the guitar chords and the message tooTony - Wilmette, Il
Lee DeWyze sang this on American Idol on May 18, 2010. Prior to that performance, I wasn't too familiar with this song. Have to admit; it's growing on me.Steven - Patterson, Ny
Wonderful song!! Very few songs out there about
how a mother feels toward her son. Its so true
that as a mother we want our son(s) to be simple
men that know the basics of life and are happy.
I dedicate this song to my son. He likes it alot
as well. He's proud that I have a song just for him. :)
Kathy'sclown - Denver, Co
Every time I here Simple Man I take my hat off becouse this song is dedicatied to Ronnie Van ZantJoe - Mills River, Nc
Great song! Lynyrd Skynyrd rocks!!!!Tyler - Greeneville, Tn
From the first time I heard this song when I was a teenager it had a deep meaning for me. I knew this was the philosophy that I would some day raise a son by. I had a son in 1984 and when he was old enough I played this song and told him the significance and how it influenced the way I raised him. He grew up with a love and respect for God, people and music, writing all his lyrics as the lead singer in a local band. Unfortunately my son died at the age of 22. We had over 500 people at his funeral and Simple Man is the song I had played from me to him. Even though he had died so young, he had already become the man I wanted him to be...Marla - Jamestown, Ny
I lost my boyfriend Kurt about a month ago (he was 34). Just today I was listening to local djs (Todd-n-Tyler) who interviewed Johnny Van Zant (Ronnie's younger brother). Tyler asked Johnny how does he get through the ups and downs of Lynyrd Skynyrd and the passing of members of the band and his response was "We're a big family and part of life is going on and we all are going to have to take that final trip. Most of us don't want to go early, of course, but it comes down to doing it for them and for ourselves" he was talking about making more music but also going on with life). Todd asked him if there is any survivor's guilt that goes along with the tragedy? He responded "It's all in God's hands, our days are numbered from the time we are born." He believes that his passing family (and band) members will be looking down on him and thanking him for continuing on. I couldn't agree more! I totally relate to what he said about survivor's guilt. I think hearing someone else who lost someone close to him at a young age... it kind of gives me hope that I will also be able to continue on with time. They asked him what's his favorite song and he said "Simple Man". I never really listened to the lyrics until now. My boyfriend Kurt believed to live simple! Between this song and what Kurt taught me while he was here I've learned to live life to the fullest... to live it "Simple"!Sara - Omaha, Ne
My only son is getting married in 2 weeks and this is the song I have picked to dance the "Mom and son dance too". It's awesome and perfect!Debbie - Worcester, Ma
I just can't help but picture Sawyer from Lost whenever I hear this song. Don't ask me why, it just does.J.d. - Mercer County, Nj
This song speaks volumes towards a primal core of our being, the relationship between a woman and her son. A mother wants her son to be happy and satisfied. She doesn't care if he's the president of the U.S. or a dishwasher. Just take on whatever it is you can handle and be satisfied doing it. For, it pains a mother to see her son not reaching his full potential, or wasting what talents god gave him. And, certainly, it breaks her heart if her son is nothing but a damn poseur.
Be a simple man. Be true. "To thine own self be true," Shakespeare.
Jeff - Casa Grande, Az
I love this song it was the first Lynyrd Skynyrd song i heard. They also used it in a Busch beer commerical.Jon - Enumclaw , Wa
Always a staple song in the live set,looking forward to hearing it in Manchester at the end of May. R I P Billy.Andy - Wales, United Kingdom
The lyrics are great on this. Probably their best recording Ever!Reed - New Ulm, Mn
Yet again, Ronny pens some fantastic lyrics that pay such moving tribute to their lost elders.
Beautiful work on the guitar, too, as if crying out to the dead Ronny's promise that he will follow their advice to "be satisfied."
Beautiful and truly universal.
Oldpink - New Castle, In
This song is one of my favorites. It reminds me of my boys, dewy,ryan and brandon. i dedicate this song to them and hope they realize how much they mean to me. I think this song says it all.
-sandy mentor,ohio
Sandy - Mentor, Oh
I just made my son a CD with a mix of inspirational and life/lessons etc. songs for his high school graduation. Simple Man was the first track.Melissa - Milwaukee , Wi
I had seen 'Shinedown' perform this song back in October, 2006, as a tribute to the late "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott. Lead singer Brent Smith stated that "Dimebag" was a warm-hearted person and also a "Simple Man". Incidently, 'Shinedown' also hail from Jacksonville, Fl..Randy - Colerain Twp., Oh
ever sice i was a little girl my dad used 2 alwys tell me the greatest band was lynard skynard and he had me listening to simple man and he used to start crying and said when i die i want u to play this song at my funeral and i will never 4get that ever thank you for making this songLyric - Dc, Md
i was in a horrible car accident over the christmas holidays, and they said i was lucky to be alive. i heard this song once or twice and liked it, but never "heard" what they were saying. when i listened and understood the lyrics it brought me to tears because, it made me realize how much i have taken my mother for granted for the past 20 years, and if i had died in that car accident, i would never TRULY be able to show her how i really felt about her all these years. if i never heard this song, i wonder how long it would have taken for my oblivious ass to have waken up to reality. thank you guys for opening my eyes, may you rest in peace.Jon - Ontario, Canada
i actually cried a couple times b/c their were slide shows of them with ronnie.i think that is absolutley great that they do this!these people arent pround , they know where they came from and who skynyrd really is''ronnie''.they are the meaning of the best in my eyes! thanks johnny for being the way you are and the rest of youDonna - Canton, Oh
i have 3 sons and i dedicated it to them even though it says ''my only son'' seen them lastnight and god bless them , they are the best!!!they never forgot the founder''ronnie'' gotta love the men of southern rock!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Donna - Canton, Oh
I believe this is the greatest song of all time for the fact that it can bring many to tears to many peoples eyes. Also to put a mesage as profound as this in such simple words is just short of god like power. Keep on rockin' you little people.This Dude - Philla, Pa
Someone please tell me this song was pressed on vinyl... :DAaron - Houston, Tx
THis is an awesome song....My husband chose this song to dance with his mom at our wedding and it brought her to tears and some guests as well. He IS her only son and this song really hit the spot and really expressed their relationship. It was perfect!Esther - Miami, Fl
the guitar work on this is one of the bestSteve - Hartselle, Al
This song was performed at my nephews funeral when he died tragically at 23 yrs old. He fell from a 9th story building in Pittsburg PA. This song will always have a special meaning to me as I fill up with tears everytime I hear it. I miss him so much. This song was exactly what his mother told him throughout the years. I will always remember "John" The performer of this song was blessed by God with such a beautiful voice. He is a local performer and has made this song part of his group. To "Mike D" thank you for such a wonderful voice.Mark - Port Clinton, Oh
This song is also used in recent beer commercial.Eddie - Natchez, Ms
What a meaningful song. I'm going to go look at the lyrics now (I can't hear them very well.)Johnny - Los Angeles, Ca
One of the top three Skynyrds. Along with "All I Can do is Write About it" and "Free Bird".Jon - Oakridge, Or
This song is definitely not sad, but it's lyrics are profound and beautiful. Just a mother telling her son how to live his life.Jim - Philadelphia, Pa
This song can be related to almost everybody in world...Its all about what a mentor usually tells the person they have mentored all their life, it just doesn't have to be about parents telling their kids advice for growing upNick - Maine, Me
it brings tears to my eyes..... cant help itAngel - Agusta, Ga
Actually in the "Tribute Tour" video of Skynyrd Gary's mom is interviewed and alludes to this song. She is a real sweet old lady. Great song!Mike - Chicago, Il
The world could learn a thing or two from Mr. Van Zant and his band, if they would just listen.Jeanette - Mcgrady, Nc
Favorite Skynyrd song!Stefanie - Rock Hill, Sc
By far best Lynrd Skynrd song.Nooxara - Albany, Ak
Gary Rossington was very much influenced by British blues-rock band Free, and you can totally hear it in this song. Good stuff!Sam - Shanghai, China
this is one of the greatest songs ever written. im a big "mamma's girl" so whenever i hear this song i think about all the troubles i've been through. its beautiful in ever form and it could never be played the way Lynyrd Skynyrd did.Jonna - Dallas, Tx
This is a beautiful song about how a mother tells her son how to live a simple life, and by the wayCraig from Webster,WI, the song was written after Van Zants grandmother died, and when the band members got together to console him they started talking about important things the important women in their lives had told them and thats how the song came to be.Anonymous - Na, Mt
anyone know who plays the version where its not guitar playing the melody, just bass? It's awesome.Pete - Windsor, Canada
this song is so good. i love it.Olivia - Perth, Australia
not a huge fan of southern rock but hey im not huge fan of anything i listen to everything, (ok ok i'll talk about the song) I love this song when ever anyone plays it acoustic, don't get me wrong i love the original, when you got dad thats not aroung much and when he is he's still not really there, and most of your advice on life is from the older women in you life it has alot of meaning and it holds alot of meaning to me!Anonymous
the south will rise again!!!Heather - Irving, Tx
I saw this band live just last month (June 21, 2005)...Johnny Van Zant sounded (and LOOKED) just like his older bro. lighters everywhere, and Johnny told us "to think of and remember the rockers up in rock heaven" when he introduced this song. it was amazing! rock on, southern rock :)Laura - Spencerport, Ny
this is my favorite song of all time, reminds me of my grandmother...she was a great lady.Sam - Elkader, Ia
We lost our son in June 2002... his friends suggested this for one of the songs for his funeral. This is MY song to MY son... (miss you Kenny).Kelly - Smalltown, Ar
This is simply a beautiful song,and it has a message behind it if u listen-It speaks of living simply and not lustiong for things u dont need.By the way The band Gov't Mule covered this song on an album and live I belive.Brandon - Morristown, Tn
My mom told me than this is her song to me.David Corino - Hawley, Pa
This was used in a beer commercial, for some reason. Anyway, Shinedown's cover is great.Paulo - India, United States
This song is kinda sad yet good.James - Sarasota, Fl
This song was also used in the radio ad campaign for BUSCH beer.Dc - Hilo, Hi
this suymmer on WAAF, shinedown covered this and it got alot of radio playBilly Ross - Hagerstown, Md
Actually, the first tidbit of info is incorrect. Gary's mother didn't die until years later that song was written.Craig - Webster, Wi
This is a very beautiful song, almost brings me to tears everytime I hear it.Bryant - Salina, Ks