From The Desk Of Amy Rigby: Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Freebird”

Amy Rigby is back with The Old Guys (Southern Domestic), her first solo album since 2005’s Little Fugitive. A veteran of NYC bands Last Roundup in the ’80s and the Shams in the ’90s, Rigby recorded the 12-track The Old Guys with husband and musical partner Wreckless Eric in upstate New York, where the couple resides. Not only is Rigby currently on tour in support of her new LP, she’s also guest editing all week.

Rigby: Recently, I ran into our local WalMart to buy some copy paper. It was freezing cold outside (upstate New York), and a nice thing about WalMart is you have to walk about a mile through the store to reach the office-supply section, so in frigid winter or blistering summer, there’s some exercise thrown in. As I sprinted past the acre of Valentine’s Day merchandise, I heard a familiar keening: “Freebird” coming through the PA. Have you listened to it lately? Maybe I was missing my husband, who I’ve done many a van journey with. Pre-gig, post-gig, we often listen to the first Lynyrd Skynyrd album. When it gets to “Freebird,” we raise our water bottles toward the windshield: “To Ronnie.” Then we get into the song. Not in an ironic way. It’s too late and we’ve come too far for that. Just a life-affirming, the-road-goes-on-forever kind of way. That’s how I felt as I listened to “Freebird” through the WalMart loudspeakers. I rounded a corner near housewares and almost hugged a man in hunting gear. I just wanted to ask him, “Hey, weren’t they something? Can’t you just picture Allen Collins in red, and Gary Rossington at Knebworth, with Ronnie Van Zandt leading the charge?” Instead I turned around and headed down the storage-tub aisle. I didn’t want a stranger to see me cry.