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On the debut episode of Track X Track, which you can watch below, Brent Smith from Shinedown went over every track on their first album, Leave A Whisper. If you’re any sort of Shinedown fan, this is a must see episode. “Fly From The Inside”, “Burning Bright”, “45” and the rest.

This post about one of the songs they put on the record after it was already released, “Simple Man”. Why did they cover it? Brent is about to tell us…..

He said that covering that song was not at all planned. “Judy Van Zant housed me. For people who don’t know, Jasin Todd, who was on the first two records, he was married to Melody Van Zant, which was Ronnie Van Zant’s daughter. And so the reality is that the lineage between Skynyrd and Shinedown is very real. And um, we are very much family. When Judy housed me for like a year straight, I told her, I was like, “I have no idea how I’m gonna pay you back. I mean, but I promise you, one day I’ll pay you back.””

He told me the band worked up a version of that song to play at a club the Van Zant’s owned, called Freebird Live. He said that was kind of like a “thank you” to Judy. But he would thank her in a much bigger way soon. At a radio station stop in Boston, he would sing it on the air for the first time. The station was WAAF, and the DJ, Mistress Carrie, sometimes had bands cover songs for the listeners. “We had a cover of something else that we kind of tried to work up and it was just a train wreck. So Brad (Stewart – the original bass player) looked over at me and was like, do “Simple Man”. I’m like, “absolutely not”. Like, I can’t, because here’s the thing, I didn’t know if I would’ve remembered all the words and, and what have you.” He was a little more prepared than he thought. “I, like, studied it the night before to, to give it to Judy, but they somehow got me to do it and I was terrified, but I did it and they recorded it.”

Fast forward six weeks or so, they’re back in Boston. Mistress Carrie shows them the download count of their performance of the song. It had been downloaded over 500,000 times! At that point the decision was made to head back to Florida, cut a proper version and put it on the record.

As far as repaying Judy Van Zant? She owned 51% of the Lynyrd Skynyrd Publishing. Brent wrapped up the story “I looked at her and I said, “I told you I’ll pay you back!”


Track X Track - Brent Smith From Shinedown Goes Track By Track Through Every Song From Leave A Whisper

Here it is…the first installment of Track X Track. From time to time, I’m going to get an artist to go over a monumental album in their catalog.

I’ll be honest: It might be hard to top this guest. This turned out way better than I could’ve hoped. Brent remembered details from every song.

I’ve known Brent since the very early days of the band. When I asked him if he would do this with me, he did not hesitate at all.

What you’re about to watch is one take, no edits. He goes over every song and gives a backstory to each and every one. Since I can’t recall what I did last weekend, the fact that Brent could tell me so much about every track is that much more impressive to me.

He recalls how the band was formed, the “Shit Brown Buick” tour to promote the album and themselves. He tells me about working with famed music theorist, Rick Beato. How and why did they cover “Simple Man”? What song did he write after his grandmother’s untimely death? He talks about what Brad Stewart, Jasin Todd and Barry Kerch all they brought to the album. That’s just for starters. This is so good!

I included every song on the album below, in case you wanted to pause the interview at any point to hear any of them.


  • Track #1 - Fly From The Inside

    Brent said he spent an entire day on the yell at the beginning of the song. “Fly From The Inside was the first vocal song that we did”

  • Track #2 - Left Out

    “Left Out was something we were just kicking around”. Brent continued “This song is going to lift the momentum of the live show”

  • Track #3 - Lost In The Crowd

    Brent talked about how Rick Beato was intrical in writing this song.

  • Track #4 - No More Love

    It was one of the first things Jasin and Brent ever wrote together. He also talks about the use of a certain guitar on this song. “There’s like three versions of me on this song”

  • Track #5 - Better Version

    “It totally was” autobiographical. “That was a difficult song to do”

  • Track #6 - Burning Bright

    “Man, this was really an emotional one” Personally, the story he told about this song had the hair on my arms stand up. So good!

  • Track #7 - In Memory

    “Was one of the last song written and recorded for the record.”

  • Track #8 - All I Ever Wanted

    “We had a lot of fun recording that one.” “I think this song will really button the record up” Rick Beato

  • Track #9 - Stranger Inside

    While listening to the album start to finish on a recent flight, Brent said this song took him right back to the recording of the album. Let’s just say this was a “hot” song to record.

  • Track #10 - Lacerated

    “There’s a lot of things I can say about this track”….I’ll leave it at that and let Brent tell you about the song….and the GONG!

  • Track #11 - Crying Out

    “It was talked about being a single, early on in the vocals” Brent said it was an incredible live song.

  • Track #12 - 45

    “We’d be here an hour” if we were to talk about this song. It was the first song Brent wrote with Tony Battaglia. “We wrote 45 in literally, I’m not even kidding, in thirty minutes”

  • Track #13 - Simple Man

    “It wasn’t planned what happened” with this song becoming so huge. And that’s just for starters on this Lynyrd Skynyrd cover.