Shinedown’s Brent Smith Talks About Covering Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man”
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!”