Lynyrdskynyrdsville: Disaster in Granny’s Swamp

LS Pronounced

I was pretty proud of the term “Lynyrdskynyrdsville” that I coined to convey the musical flavor and tone of my adolescent environs, but then it dawned on me that it might not be all that nice or respectful of me to use it, because in 1977, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s plane crashed darn near right on top of my Granny’s swamp, killing six people.  I remember it well.

Front Page of Local Newspaper

Enterprise Journal

According to the wise sages at Wikipedia, the crash occurred in a “heavily-wooded swamp in Amite County, five miles northeast of Gillsburg, Mississippi”, i.e., Granny’s swamp.  It seems that there is a lot of controversy about what caused the crash and the events immediately following it.  There’s been speculation about a malfunctioning fuel gauge, pilot error, etc., but it doesn’t appear that any of that is substantiated.

What I do know is that the people in the area were completely overwhelmed as the world descended upon the swamp in unprecedented numbers, although that little corner of the still-wildish frontier has had oddly more than its share of weird happenings over the years.  If Daddy was still here, I could tell you more, but there was something about a fake diamond mine hoax back in the early 20th century that brought people from all over the country, sleeping on the side of the road and getting drunk and whatnot, plus there was “The Bunch Gang”, Bonnie & Clyde-style outlaws of the 20’s that holed up in the woods, wreaking havoc upon the little community of farmers, ending in tales of ghostly black dogs emerging from the fireplace when the outlaws died, and other weirdnesses reaching back beyond the Civil War.

Anyway, I was living up near Jackson at the time, where things were slightly less weird, but some of the survivors of the crash were in the orthopedic rehabilitation unit with friends of mine from high school that were recovering from a car wreck that happened on one of those many cruising nights described in my “I Dig Boy Music” post.  They were instant celebrities when they got back to school, regaling us with questionable stories of their supposed interactions with band members during rehab sessions.

I’m not the biggest fan of Lynyrd Skynyrd, preferring my southern fried blues-rock more Allman flavored, but I do like this song a whole lot.  This is one of those songs where my hubby plays his guitar as I belt it out passionately with great gusto and emotion.  I agree wholeheartedly with its philosophy, which I was taught from an early age as the descendant of a long line of poor southern farmers and which basically can be described in the words of our hero Neil as “don’t be a breadhead”.  And if I use the expression, “Lynyrdskynyrdsville” in the future, which I probably will because it’s going to be hard for me to give it up, please know that I mean absolutely no disrespect – either to the band or to the simple, countrified culture to which it refers.  After all, no matter where I’ve been or what small achievements I’ve been fortunate to make in my life, it’s my own cultural background, and it will always be a part of me.  Here’s “Simple Man”…

crash site

The Crash Site

R.I.P.

Ronnie Van Zant

Steve Gaines

Cassie Gaines

Dean Kilpatrick

Walter McCreary

William Gray

Questions?  Comments?  Please Share!

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8 Comments

Filed under Music, Uncategorized

8 responses to “Lynyrdskynyrdsville: Disaster in Granny’s Swamp

  1. Well, you know, Marie. We’s all gonna die sometime. ‘N it don’ make no diff whither yer buried in a cemetery or a swamp. Yer’s just as dead. No disrespect intended uv course. I’d buy a postcard of Lynyrdskynyrdsville if’n I was passin’ thru.

  2. Hi Bruce, you know, I think Lynyrdskynyrdsville is a state of mind, really. Wherever people are living the simple life, enjoying nature and its bounty, keeping it real and so forth, you have a Lynyrdskynyrdsville, even if no one is actually listening to Lynyrd Skynyrd. 😉

    • Thanks, Matt. Did you catch the part about the local legend involving a black ghost dog? A group of deacons from the little church stood watch over the death bed of this terrible outlaw dude and they swore they saw it come out of the fire, walk up to the dude’s bed at the point of death, then it turned around and walked back in. Go figure. This supposedly happened in the 1920s. Thought you might find that interesting because of “Black Dog”. I think about that story every time I hear that phrase.

  3. That’s awesome! Go to YouTube and listen to Shooter Jennings’ “The Black Dog” when you get a chance.

    • Wow, that song was so cool! Thanks for telling me about it. That one is going to stick with me a while.

      The black dog as a symbol or harbinger of evil and misfortune has English and Irish roots, I believe, and as we can see, the trace of this belief still echoes through the years.

      But I’ve often wondered about that “black dog out of the fire” story. Those men that swore they saw it were my Grandpa’s friends from the church – good, honest, sober men all, he said, and he took them at their word. Weird.

      • Also, the British, particularly Churchill, called depression the “black dog”. (That’s in my upcoming book, which I met with the cover designer about yesterday. Yay!), and there’s an interesting legend from the British Isles called “Black Shuck” that you might want to take a look at. I’m off to work. Have a great day!

  4. So I researched Black Shuck, and apparently the legend originated in East Anglia, then I looked up common surnames there, and there were quite a few that are very common down around where this happened. So it’s possible that the belief had been brought over directly from “the old country”. As to what they actually saw – who knows? But people believed it because the men that reported it were pillars of the church and little community.

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