If you go to enough concerts in the U.S., eventually you will hear it. It will probably be towards the end of the night, as the band is winding up, maybe trying to decide what to play for their final song. And then someone will yell out, ”Play Freebird!”
The response from the other concert-goers will vary. Some may join in, others may snicker, and still others may sigh at hearing the overused trope. But what does “Play Freebird!” mean?
“Freebird” is a 1973 song by southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd, who are probably best-known for their anthem “Sweet Home Alabama.” ”Freebird” hit the top 40, and has been voted as having one of the best guitar solos of all time.
The phrase’s first use, understandably, was to request the song. On a 1976 Lynyrd Skynyrd live recording, the lead singer asks the audience what song they want to hear, and they shout back, “Freebird!” (the band obliges).
Today, however, “Play Freebird!” is yelled at bands who almost certainly don’t have “Freebird” in their repertoire, with no intention that the band treat the exclamation as a request.