Poison Whiskey

Album: Pronounced Leh-nerd Skin-nerd (1973)
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • "Poison Whiskey" is about the effects of alcoholism, which is a bit ironic since Lynyrd Skynyrd played almost every concert under the influence of alcohol.
  • Johnny Walker, as mentioned in the lyrics, is a Scotch whiskey that comes in four types: red label (basic), black label (12 year), gold label (18 year), and blue label (very top shelf).
  • An acoustic version sung by Johnny Van Zant appears on their album Endangered Species. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Aaron - Twin Cities, MN, for all above
  • This song is track 3, side 2, of Lynyrd Skynyrd's landmark first album. Their producer, Al Kooper, was initially nervous about the band name, and begged them to change it. When they wouldn't budge, he devised a clever ad campaign before the first album release, in a bid to drive the name of the band into the public's mind. He designed a skull head and a bones-styled typeface, and took out ads in music trade magazines and major-city alternative weekly newspapers, with an ad that simply said "Who is Lynyrd Skynyrd?" Each week, the size of the ad grew and held a few more details, until finally it became a huge two-page ad on the day of the album's release.

    Soon after the MCA ad campaign, Pete Townshend of The Who dropped by MCA studios looking for an opening act for the Quadrophenia tour. Who should they find but the hot, young and eager Lynyrd Skynyrd. Thanks to the lucky coincidence of their first album's ad campaign, it looked like they'd planned to tour with The Who the whole time!

Comments: 8

  • The Man from EverywhereGood southern rock
  • Stuart from ScotlandI'm surprised the distillery didn't sue, lol.
  • Alan from Rochester, NyI had always interpreted this as being about the special dangers of moonshine as much as the dangers of alcohol in general.
  • Alan from Rochester, NyI suppose this really would be a serious issue for good ol' boys such as the Skynyrd members. I wouldn't doubt if the writers were reflecting on practical experience.
    Interesting how they juxtaposed the name of a legit brand of whiskey
  • Oldpink from New Castle, InGreat cautionary tale, and a nice bit of work with the keyboards and guitars synchronizing so tightly.
  • Rozan from San Diego, CaA hidden gem from their first album.
  • Chris from Milford, CtThis song very much resembles the James Gang's "Funk #49" but nevertheless is still a great skynyrd tune.
  • Norbert from Oaklahomacity, Orthis is an abscure Skynyrd tune but it is my favorite
see more comments

Editor's Picks

The Evolution of "Ophelia"

The Evolution of "Ophelia"Song Writing

How four songs portray Shakespeare's character Ophelia.

Allen Toussaint - "Southern Nights"

Allen Toussaint - "Southern Nights"They're Playing My Song

A song he wrote and recorded from "sheer spiritual inspiration," Allen's didn't think "Southern Nights" had hit potential until Glen Campbell took it to #1 two years later.

David Clayton-Thomas of Blood, Sweat & Tears

David Clayton-Thomas of Blood, Sweat & TearsSongwriter Interviews

The longtime BS&T frontman tells the "Spinning Wheel" story, including the line he got from Joni Mitchell.

Christmas Songs

Christmas SongsFact or Fiction

Rudolf, Bob Dylan and the Singing Dogs all show up in this Fact or Fiction for seasonal favorites.

Steven Tyler of Aerosmith

Steven Tyler of AerosmithSongwriter Interviews

Tyler talks about his true love: songwriting. How he identifies the beauty in a melody and turns sorrow into art.

Ron and Russell Mael of Sparks

Ron and Russell Mael of SparksSongwriter Interviews

The men of Sparks on their album Hippopotamus, and how Morrissey handled it when they suggested he lighten up.