Take Cover! Built To Spill Vs. Lynyrd Skynyrd

When is a cover song better than the original? Only you can decide. This week Built To Spill takes on Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Freebird.” MAGNET’s Edward Fairchild pulls the pin. Take cover!

This is the most requested song in the history of recorded music. On Lynyrd Skynyrd’s 1976 live album, One More For The Road, there are shouts for “Freebird” throughout the band’s entire set. When the group reaches the second encore, singer Ronnie Van Zant jokingly asks the crowd, “What song is it you wanna hear?” and the entire arena shouts back almost in unison, “Freebird”! In the subsequent 30 years, a tired joke emerged with concertgoers ironically shouting “Freebird” as a request (at almost every concert by every band), knowing that the likelihood of anyone taking on the anthem would be slim to none. I would like to have seen the look on the dolt’s face who shouted it during the encore of a 2001 Built To Spill concert when the band first ripped into it. Of course, it probably only encouraged him.

The Cover:

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The Original:

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7 Comments

  1. Posted June 16, 2010 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    As much as I wanted to click the radio for “Built To Spill” there’s no denying that Lynard Skynard’s version can’t be touched….

  2. Russ
    Posted June 16, 2010 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

    Kinda hard to compete with Skynyrd’s anthem. As much as Doug and the boys absolutely kill it live, you’ve got to pretty much stand on your head to outpace the songwriters.

    As an aside, I’m thrilled that so-called “alternative mags” are willing to embrace great songs that aren’t neccessarily part of their fold. I’m a believer that there’s masterpieces (and ample trash) in every genre, and it’s the job of you good folks to weed them out.

  3. pickle
    Posted June 22, 2010 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    This is a rare case where they sound identical. The only difference is BTS didn’t need a kilo of blow to pull of the 12 minute version.

  4. Don
    Posted June 22, 2010 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    BTS’s version suffers from inferior vocals and no Confederate flag backdrop.

  5. Dan
    Posted June 22, 2010 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    Yah, I have to go with BTS on this one because it IS a complete joke to yell out FREEBIRD at a show, but they did it a) as an encore and b) pretty note for note, turning the joke entirely on its head while still chuckling along.

    If I remember correctly, they only busted it out live, and only as an encore on their summer 2001 tour. Pretty awesome.

  6. Posted June 27, 2010 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

    Just like it did with the most overrated/underrated Elliott Smith song story, Magnet asks another one of the Top 10 dumb questions in rock criticism.
    Unless a cover version takes the source material in an entirely different direction and mines emotions not found in the original, it’s basically karaoke. Writing a song is a million times harder than playing one already written, so Skynyrd wins this battle. Besides, when was the last time you went to a show and heard someone shout out for “Carry the Zero”?

  7. t. drew hardin
    Posted August 24, 2010 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    The first thing I want to say is that the Confederate flag in the background deeply offends me.It represents ideas we need to forget. That said, I agree with Russ and Mint. Built to Spill do an outstanding joband you can tell they’re lettin’ loose and lovin’ every minute of it. However, Edward Everett is once again bested by Lincoln at Gettysburg. Billy Powell with that melt-anyone’s-heart intro followed by Ronnie Van Zant’s killer vocals and Rossington, Collins, and company finishing off the kill, guitarists taking turns trying to outshine one another, well, this just simply ends up being a no-brainer.