Tuesday, October 15, 2019

A Pilgrimage

Any regular reader of this blog knows of my love of music. As I often say, the music of the 70s, 80s, and 90s provided him the background soundtrack that still accompanies my life daily. I am a fan of many bands and the music they make.  I have been lucky enough at this period in my life to take time to go back and see most of those bands live, which I have documented here.

Lynyrd Skynyrd's music has always been significant in my lifelong soundtrack. Even though the original line up of the band was only around for a few years, the music created during those years still stands up against anything being produced now or in the future. Even now, their music is probably heard somewhere in the world 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

In 1977, the airplane the band was traveling in ran out of fuel and crashed. This disaster left Lynyrd Skynyrd without Ronnie Van Zant, lead vocalist who most of the band’s lyrics, Steve Gaines, a one-third of the Guitar Army who also wrote songs and provided vocals, and Cassie Gaines, one of their strongest voice of the Honkettes, their trio of background vocalists. For many, this was the end of the band, although a majority of the remaining members, after a period of recuperation, began to perform again.  Aside from losing a great group, for at least a while, the event was significant for me because I was supposed to attend one of the concert dates later on the tour. As a result of the crash, I never got the chance to see the original lineup.

A couple of months ago, I heard about a group that was raising funds to build a monument at the location where Lynyrd Skynyrd's plane crashed. Being a fan of their music, I went to Go Fund Me and made a donation. Then I started thinking about doing something a bit more involved. 

Since the dedication wasn't until 20 October, I had little time to plan out a trip so I could attend the event myself. Ever since I made that decision, I've had people ask me how I feel about going down there for it. The only word I can come up with to describe it is bittersweet. Yes, it is a sad event that is being memorialized, but at the same time, it is a time to remember some genuinely great music that was made and those responsible for making it.  I think that shared remembrance will provide an eclectic joy to all the people who attend.

This event is providing me with the chance to be together with a lot of other people who appreciate the music of Lynyrd Skynyrd the way I do. As part of the weekend, they even have a Skynyrd cover band (Nuthin' Fancy) performing on Saturday night, I think it will only add to the magic.

My next entry will be about my experience that weekend, and a few of the people who decided that creating a memorial and eventually seeing it built was something worthwhile. Considering it's been over 40 years since the crash, that's a long time to hold an idea and not give up until you see it completed. I look forward to telling you all about it.


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