This weekend brought us a collaboration that brought a classic song full circle. Brent Smithwho scored a massive hit with Shine down cover Lynyrd Skynyrd‘Simple Man’ had a chance to team up with the song’s originators on stage in Nashville.
The collaboration took place on Sunday (November 13) during Lynyrd Skynyrd’s performance at the Ryman Auditorium, and singer Johnny Van Van had some kind words to say to introduce Smith. “This next guest, these guys, his band, by the way, they’re from Jacksonville, Florida — where Lynyrd Skynyrd is from. And they did this song so great. When we were thinking about doing this show, I was like, ‘Man, we would love to have him.’ You must give it up to our good fellow… You must all give it up to Mr. Smith from Shinedown.”
Of course, “Simple Man” has a long history with Shinedown, since it was included on the group’s debut album, Leave a Whisper. The cover hit No. 5 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart and has been certified as a platinum single for the band.
Despite being a fan favourite, there was a period early in Shinedown’s career when they had taken it out of their sets until, as Smith told us in 2018, Godsmack vocalist Sully Erna had pulled him aside after catching a show and convinced him to reinstate it in the set. “Listen, far be it from me to tell you what to do with your career. But let me give you a little advice, this is not your song to hold on to,” Smith says, Erna told him.
“He wasn’t talking about the fact that I didn’t write the song or anything. He was making a point about the audience loving the version we’re doing. You have to sing these [popular] songs and you have to sing that song. He made the point that it’s not about the painter, it’s about the painting, and that stuck with me for a long time. The following night we put the song back into the set,” Smith recalled.
“Simple Man” also has a similar history with Lynyrd Skynyrd, who also appear on their debut album, (Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd’). Although not originally released as a single from their debut album, it remains a staple of the band’s live shows and is currently their third best-selling digital song.
After having time to share the stage with the originators of one of Shinedown’s most beloved tracks, Smith stated via social media: “Still trying to process this moment… Thank you @skynyrd and @johnnyroyvanzant for allowing me to be a be part of this extraordinary event!!!”
Watch fan-shot footage of the performance below.