The Ballad of Curtis Loew
|"The Ballad of Curtis Loew"|
|Song by Lynyrd Skynyrd from the album Second Helping|
|Released||April 15, 1974|
|Recorded||Record Plant Studios, Los Angeles, California, January 1974|
Ronnie Van Zant
|Second Helping track listing|
The Ballad of Curtis Loew is a song written by Allen Collins and Ronnie Van Zant and performed by Lynyrd Skynyrd. The song was first released on the band's 1974 album, Second Helping and again on their compilation, The Essential Lynyrd Skynyrd and later on All Time Greatest Hits. It is on many of their compilation albums and before the Lynyrd Skynyrd plane crash, was performed once live on stage. Ed King says, "The original version of the band only played 'Curtis Loew' one time on stage. We were playing in a basement in some hotel and thought we'd try it. We never played it again until the Tribute Tour with Johnny Van Zant."
A young boy wakes up "before the rooster crows" and searches for soda bottles to cash in. He gives the money to a man named Curtis Loew, who buys wine and plays his Dobro guitar for the boy all day. Curtis is described as a "black man with white curly hair" and the boy idolizes him, returning despite whuppings by his mama to hear the old man play, clapping his hands and trying to stay in time. "People said you was useless," the boy recalls. "Those people all were fools." Instead Curtis is "the finest picker to ever play the blues", the boy professes.
Curtis eventually dies and the boy notes that nobody "came to pray". The song ends with a lament to Curtis: "I wish you was here so everyone would know."
The band's website says that the song is based on a composite of people who actually lived in the Van Zants' original neighborhood in Jacksonville, FL. Specifically, the country store "is based on Claude's Midway Grocery on the corner of Plymouth and Lakeshore in Jacksonville." The business has since been renamed Sunrise Food Store, but still occupies the same location. The Loew character is sometimes thought by Skynyrd fans to be inspired by Shorty Medlock, the grandfather of Rickey Medlocke, Lynyrd Skynyrd's drummer during their 1970 tour and one of the band's current guitarists.
- Dorman, Frank; Odom, Gene (2003). Lynyrd Skynyrd: Remembering the Free Birds of Southern Rock. Broadway. p. 110. ISBN 978-0-7679-1027-9.
- Hale, Grace Elizabeth (2002). "Invisible Men". In Abadie, Ann J.; Urgo, Joseph R. Faulkner and His Contemporaries. University Press of Mississippi. p. 166. ISBN 978-1-60473-544-4.
- Ching, Barbara (2008). "Where Has the Free Bird Flown?". In Watts, Trent. White Masculinity in the Recent South. Louisiana State University Press. p. 260. ISBN 978-0-8071-3314-9.
- "Second Helping" song list, lynyrdskynyrdhistory.com
- "The Ballad of Curtis Loew" lyrics. lynyrdskynyrdhistory.com
- "Was there a real Curtis Loew?" from the FAQ, lynyrdskynyrd.com