Grey Ghost

Album: Grey Ghost (1979)

Songfacts®:

  • Henry Paul, who was a singer and guitarist for The Outlaws, wrote this song about Ronnie Van Zant, lead singer of Lynyrd Skynyrd. Paul and Van Zant were friends and shared the stage when they toured together. Says Paul: "I wrote that about Ronnie, and my co-writer was quite good friends with Steve Gaines. So, I would say my character was probably a primary character, since Steve was just starting his career with that group, and Ronnie was the focal point. That title was me trying to weave my Civil War knowledge into a 'southern rock' sort of legend."
  • Paul, a Civil War enthusiast, strives to be historically accurate with his lyrics: "Those verses, as they go by, it's very historically correct. I find myself really good at writing songs from the standpoint of accuracy, and somehow I'm really good at taking poetic license and facts and weaving it together into a song. I thought that song was a good version of that, and very near the end, I brought my own life into perspective: 'The fast life and the music is just a grim disguise, for the fear of growing old.' I mean, we kind of mask our own immortality with idiocy. And then you wind up at the end of the game empty-handed and you look like the goat because the party's over and you're still standing there thinking, 'Where did everybody go?' I always like to tell the truth as I see it in these songs."
  • Also an art lover, Paul likes to paint vivid pictures with his words, enjoying the images those words bring to mind: "First verse in that song I thought was really a great picture, 'The autumn wind whispers through the tall and lonely pines.' It was a great song. I'm not one to pat myself on the back, but I am amazed at times with how I've been able to satisfy my own creative inclination and make money at it." (Check out our interview with Henry Paul. For more, go to www.blackhawkmusic.us.)

Comments: 2

  • John from Pleasanton, CaMe too. I saw these guys at Hurley Mountain Inn and thought they were awesome. Still enjoy their music almost 30 years later.
  • Nancy from San Antonio, TxI remember hearing The Henry Paul band as a young teen, I grew up in upstate New York and in the late 70's early 80's they played at a lot of different venues up there. I never relized Grey Ghost was written about Ronnie van Zant, I woke up just this morning with that song in my head and it all clicked together.

    It's funny as we get older how much more there is to learn and discover about the music we grew up on...I love this band and their songs are incredible.
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