In 1974, Lynyrd Skynyrd released what is perhaps one of their most complex songs of all time. "The Ballad of Curtis Loew" was written by guitarist Allen Collins and lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, and was first featured on their second studio album, Second Helping.
The song tells the story of a boy who looks for soda bottles to cash in so he can give money to a man named Curtis Loew. Curtis is said to be a "black man with white curly hair" who knows how to play the Dobro guitar, and the boy holds him in high regard. However, no one else seems to appreciate Curtis except for the boy, and when Curtis passes away, the boy sadly reveals that no one really seems to care except for him, since he feels that Curtis was "the finest picker to ever play the blues."
Despite being one of their earliest songs, Skynyrd only performed "The Ballad Of Curtis Loew" on stage one time before the plane crash of 1977. Once the band reunited ten years later, they started to include the song in their setlist, and now it's a fairly common part of their shows.
Skynyrd chose to perform the song during a concert at the Freedom Hall in Louisville, Kentucky, which was recorded and released on a live CD and DVD three years later.
The song gave lead singer Johnny Van Zant the chance to show off his unbelievable talent not just as a vocalist, but a storyteller. Through his hand motions, the way he interacted with the crowd, and the speak-singing way in which he performed, Johnny managed to pull everyone in to the sad story of Curtis Loew. Instrumentally, the rest of the band managed to convey just as much emotion through their soft, slow solos.
Overall, the performance proved just how captivating Skynyrd's music can be. You can check it out for yourself in the video below.
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