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.
Suggestion credit: 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.
Suggestion credit: Bryant - Salina, KS
The Heavy Metal band Shinedown recorded an acoustic version. The Deftones also covered it on their B-Sides And Rarities CD.
Suggestion credit: 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."
The song charted in the Hot 100 for the first time in May 2015. A version by Sawyer Fredericks, performed on the April 27, 2015 episode of The Voice, debuted at #71 the following week.
Jeff from Hazel Green, Al.This song was played at our oldest son's funeral. It had been raining all day when I went to pick our daughter up for the visitation. As soon as she got in the car, before she even buckled her seatbelt, the rain stopped and the most beautiful rainbow we had ever seen came out. At the same time this song started playing on the radio. We know it was Jay telling us it was alright. He was at peace.
Byron from UsI always felt like this song said more about the mother's disappointment in her life and problems she had with the men she loved. She was projecting this onto her son.
Kathy from Wilmington, NcWhen I heard Simple Man with my son in the car I told him that this is the song we should dance to when he gets married. I said it really is the perfect song. I can't help tearing up when I hear it now.
Wanda from San Pedro, CaLynard Skynard has and will always have a special place in my heart. When my only son was 15 this was my song to him and what i wanted for him in life. In 2006 we seen Lynard Skynard in concert in St. Louis , Mo and we danced together under the stars that night when they came on stage and played Simple Man. It is a memory I will forever cherish. That was the summer he turned 18. Today is his 29th birthday and I am a very proud mother of the man he has become and this will always be our song. Thank you Lynard. Skynard.
Drew from Ville, TxAs 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.
Aleta from Baltimore, MdI 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!!
Cindy from Sioux Falls, SdMy 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...
Tony from Wilmette, IlEvery Time I hear this song I become very excited I absolutely love the guitar chords and the message too
Steven from Patterson, NyLee 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.
Kathy'sclown from Denver, CoWonderful 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. :)
Joe from Mills River, NcEvery time I here Simple Man I take my hat off becouse this song is dedicatied to Ronnie Van Zant
Tyler from Greeneville, TnGreat song! Lynyrd Skynyrd rocks!!!!
Marla from Jamestown, NyFrom 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...
Sara from Omaha, NeI 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"!
Debbie from Worcester, MaMy 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!
J.d. from Mercer County, NjI just can't help but picture Sawyer from Lost whenever I hear this song. Don't ask me why, it just does.
Jeff from Casa Grande, AzThis 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.
Jon from Enumclaw , WaI love this song it was the first Lynyrd Skynyrd song i heard. They also used it in a Busch beer commerical.
Andy from Wales, United KingdomAlways a staple song in the live set,looking forward to hearing it in Manchester at the end of May. R I P Billy.
Reed from New Ulm, MnThe lyrics are great on this. Probably their best recording Ever!
Oldpink from New Castle, InYet 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.
Sandy from Mentor, OhThis 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
Melissa from Milwaukee , WiI 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.
Randy from Colerain Twp., OhI 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..
Lyric from Dc, Mdever 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 song
Jon from Ontario, Canadai 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.
Donna from Canton, Ohi 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 you
Donna from Canton, Ohi 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!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This Dude from Philla, PaI 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.
Aaron from Houston, TxSomeone please tell me this song was pressed on vinyl... :D
Esther from Miami, FlTHis 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!
Steve from Hartselle, Althe guitar work on this is one of the best
Mark from Port Clinton, OhThis 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.
Eddie from Natchez, MsThis song is also used in recent beer commercial.
Johnny from Los Angeles, CaWhat a meaningful song. I'm going to go look at the lyrics now (I can't hear them very well.)
Jon from Oakridge, OrOne of the top three Skynyrds. Along with "All I Can do is Write About it" and "Free Bird".
Jim from Philadelphia, PaThis song is definitely not sad, but it's lyrics are profound and beautiful. Just a mother telling her son how to live his life.
Nick from Maine, MeThis 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 up
Angel from Agusta, Gait brings tears to my eyes..... cant help it
Mike from Chicago, IlActually 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!
Jeanette from Mcgrady, NcThe world could learn a thing or two from Mr. Van Zant and his band, if they would just listen.
Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScFavorite Skynyrd song!
Nooxara from Albany, AkBy far best Lynrd Skynrd song.
Sam from Shanghai, ChinaGary Rossington was very much influenced by British blues-rock band Free, and you can totally hear it in this song. Good stuff!
Jonna from Dallas, Txthis 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.
Anonymous from Na, MtThis 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.
Pete from Windsor, Canadaanyone know who plays the version where its not guitar playing the melody, just bass? It's awesome.
Olivia from Perth, Australiathis song is so good. i love it.
Anonymousnot 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!
Heather from Irving, Txthe south will rise again!!!
Laura from Spencerport, NyI 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 :)
Sam from Elkader, Iathis is my favorite song of all time, reminds me of my grandmother...she was a great lady.
Kelly from Smalltown, ArWe 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).
Brandon from Morristown, TnThis 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.
David Corino from Hawley, PaMy mom told me than this is her song to me.
Paulo from India, United StatesThis was used in a beer commercial, for some reason. Anyway, Shinedown's cover is great.
James from Sarasota, FlThis song is kinda sad yet good.
Dc from Hilo, HiThis song was also used in the radio ad campaign for BUSCH beer.
Billy Ross from Hagerstown, Mdthis suymmer on WAAF, shinedown covered this and it got alot of radio play
Craig from Webster, WiActually, the first tidbit of info is incorrect. Gary's mother didn't die until years later that song was written.
Bryant from Salina, KsThis is a very beautiful song, almost brings me to tears everytime I hear it.