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
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”…
The Crash Site
Ronnie Van Zant
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