My song today is ‘Simple Man’. This the last track on side one of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s debut album pronounced, ‘Leh-nerd Skin-nerd’. The song is one of Lynyrd Skynyrd's most popular songs. Since the song became available for digital download, it has become Lynyrd Skynyrd's third best-selling digital song after ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ and ‘Free Bird’.
The introduction to the song was used in ‘The Sopranos’ and ‘Cold Stones’ episodes. The first half of the song can be heard in the 2000 semi-autobiographical film ‘Almost Famous’. This song is also used as the television theme song to ‘History’s Mountain Men’, and mixed-martial artist, Matt Mitrione uses ‘Simple Man’ as his entrance song every time he takes the arena to fight. The song was covered by country music artist Hank Williams Jr. on his 1991 album and the song has been covered by many artists.
Put bluntly, my youngest son William is proverbially a chip off the old block. We were born at a different time and in a different age yet are governed by similar stars of destiny as we forged our way through life ‘doing our own thing’ and In ‘our own different ways’(often to the detriment of the feelings of significant others in our lives). We are each independent and individual. We do not ride the same star of destiny and never will, but our stars do cross and we are both guided in our passage through life by a star of hope for the future of mankind. While Will’s life has not hopefully been lived in the shadow of mine as an adult, my own behaviour, beliefs, and experiences, displayed to him and felt by him during his childhood years undoubtedly influenced him as much as other genetic parts he has inherited from me and his mother have. We were both born to follow a similar path of growth and understanding as travellers of the wider world.
In my day, the farthest a working-class lad like me could expect to travel was on a day’s trip by train or coach to the seaside at Blackpool or Scarborough. There was no such thing as flying to the continent on a ‘budget flight’ in those days for ordinary people, for as little as two hours average wage for a working man. In those days, only birds, bees, kites and the rich flew, and the cost for humans was exorbitant and beyond the average person’s purse.
When I went to Canada for two years in 1964-6, to travel around Canada and the United States of America, I was viewed by neighbours and workmates as being exceedingly daring and adventurous ‘going abroad’. I realised that I was incredibly lucky to be able to afford to do so. My own foreign travel was made possible by receiving a sizable amount of financial compensation at the age of 21 years, as the result of a life-threatening accident I had at the age of 11 years when a large wagon ran over me and left me unable to walk for three years.
The life of many a father and a son may hold remarkable similarities to each other as genetic traits are inherited and certain behaviour patterns learned; they also hold ironies. Both Will and I are following the same shadow of faith by:
(1) We each displayed too much anger as growing teenagers and young adults.
(2) We each are hopeless romantics who expect too much from our partners in life and the relationships we forge.
(3) We each are fiercely independent in our lifestyles, each being highly rebellious in our attitude in providing compliant responses to authority figures, and each being prepared to ‘step outside the box’ in seeking our own solution to the happiness and lifestyle we want.
(4) We each have always seen the strength and wisdom to be drawn from mating with, partnering with, and marrying diverse nationalities and dark-skinned best mates and soul mates. There is no area of discrimination that either of us has ever subscribed to or consciously practiced.
Where I went on to found ‘Anger Management’ in my thirties and to eventually become one of the country’s foremost authorities on Relaxation Training methods, my son Will has developed his own School of Yoga out in Australia. He is as pioneering in his own way today as I was in mine fifty years ago, and the range of his vision is as globally extensive as was mine in the 1970s.
Like I said, “He is a chip off the old block of wood’, but whereas the grain of mine that he inherited will always grow through him, he has already added a new grain of his own alongside. Hopefully, one day when he fathers children, his offspring will inherit a combined genetic pool of talent and positive traits we both created through the men we were, the men we are, and the men we became.
My son, Will, may be a chip off the old block but as long as he can go through life following the fatherly advice I give him in his dedicated song today, he will never carry ‘a chip on his shoulder.’ or 'have a prejudicial splinter in his eye' when he interacts with humans of any sex, physical or mental disability, skin colour, nationality or creed.
As the song says within one of its lines say, “Be a simple kind of man. Be someone you love and can understand”. Love from Dad xx
Love and peace Bill xxx