I'm a musical prostitute. My mom loves it when I say that but seriously, isn't that what I do? You put Andrew Jackson in my tip jar and I attempt to play what you tell me you want to hear. My goal is to entertain...
And then I hear “Free Bird”. Usually it's someone yelling from somewhere in the back. Most likely tanked. Probably a guy. And Old Hickory is not his friend. I don't even know if he's familiar with Abe Lincoln or G-Dub, as I like to call our first president, cause he already paid his cover to get in the door.
Used to be my response was something to the effect of, “ahh, I remember my first beer” or “really” or “hmm, we don't know that one. How does it go?” But one night my response was, “20 bucks!” Holy 'what have I got myself into' Batman, a twenty is thrown in the tip jar! So, we proceed to butcher the classic but people seem to like it. Next performance, like clockwork, “Free Bird!” I up it to 40 bucks. And two twenties go in the tip jar. You've got to be kidding me. Do people even really want to hear the song or is it just funny at this point?
Next night, “Free Bird!” 60 bucks! Two people get together the money and throw it in. Okay, this is getting silly now. How high is this gonna go?
A couple weeks go by with no one ponying up to the now $80 limit for the Lynyrd Skynyrd staple. And then, “Free Bird!” I almost didn't hear it because the guy wasn't really that obnoxious but I say, “80 bucks”. It is now a reflex that sometimes comes out of my mouth without me realizing it. Completely sober the guy walks up and drops in the cash. “You must really like this song.” By now, we've become much better on the song and it could take up to 10 minutes for us to play it. Sweet!
And that's where it stands. We've decided that to honor the memory of Ronnie Van Zant we will play it gratis only around October 20 to commemorate that fateful day. Otherwise, when someone yells it and you know someone will, I say “Free Bird is a hundred bucks!”