GREATEST SONGS EVER WRITTEN #8: Lynyrd Skynyrd, Sinead O’Connor


lynyrdskynyrd530With experience comes wisdom, our elders have “been there/done that” and can offer us so much good advice so we don’t make the same mistakes in our lives. Never has this been more abundant in music than Ronnie Van Zant’s Southern Rock anthem, Simple Man. It was the last song on their debut album and remains one of their most popular concert requests. The lyrics are not poetic or descriptive but you can feel the mother’s love as her pearls of wisdom are dispensed here:

Mama told me when I was young
Come sit beside me, my only son
And listen closely to what I say.
And if you do this
It’ll help you some sunny day. Oh Yah!
Oh, take your time… Don’t live too fast,
Troubles will come and they will pass.
You’ll find a woman, yea yea, you’ll find love,
And don’t forget son,
There is someone up above.

And be a simple, kind of man.
Oh be something, you love and understand.
Baby be a simple, kind of man.
Oh, won’t you do this for me son,
If you can?

Forget your lust, for the rich man’s gold
All that you need, is in your soul,
And you can do this, oh baby, if you try.
All that I want for you my son,
Is to be satisfied.


Boy, don’t you worry… you’ll find yourself.
Follow your heart, lord, and nothing else.
And you can do this, oh baby, if you try.
All that I want for you my son,
Is to be satisfied.


colinroachLiving in America, our news media tends to focus on local issues. In 1990, Sinead O’Connor’s second album featured a song called Black Boys On Mopeds that depict the civil rights movement in England, an alleged police cover-up, and a depiction of a tyrannical government in the U.K. In 1983, Colin Roach, a 21 year old black man, was gunned down outside of a police station in Hackney.  Prior to his death, this borough of London was the site of campaigners protesting racial profiling, discrimination, and police harassment. Colin’s mysterious death was the theme of Sinead’s political song.

Margaret Thatcher on TV
Shocked by the deaths that took place in Beijing
It seems strange that she should be offended
The same orders are given by her

I’ve said this before now
You said I was childish and you’ll say it now
“Remember what I told you
If they hated me they will hate you”

England’s not the mythical land of Madame George and roses
It’s the home of police who kill black boys on mopeds
And I love my boy and that’s why I’m leaving
I don’t want him to be aware that there’s
Any such thing as grieving

Young mother down at Smithfield
5 am, looking for food for her kids
In her arms she holds three cold babies
And the first word that they learned was “please”

These are dangerous days
To say what you feel is to dig your own grave
“Remember what I told you
If you were of the world they would love you”