Certain Songs #1061: Lynyrd Skynyrd – “Gimme Three Steps”

Album: (Pronounced ‘Leh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd)
Year: 1973

While it wasn’t the highest-profile song on Lynyrd Skynyrd’s tough-as-nails debut album, “Gimme Three Steps” was probably the first place where the wit that suffused both Ronnie Van Zant’s singing and his lyrics first truly shown through.

It’s at the very end of the first verse, which has already been delayed in order for Gary Rossington to take a short solo over Allen Collins’ typically funky central riff, but immediately shows us the stakes involved: Van Zant’s been dancing with the wrong woman — Linda Lou, in retrospect, a dead giveaway — and her man approaching him, gun drawn, pissed as hell.

And with his voice ticking almost into a falsetto while trailing off at the end, Van Zant sings “I said, excuuuuuussse me.”

It’s a brilliant aside, and no matter how much Van Zant describes his fear in that moment, it’s also indicative that he’s already formulating a plan. It also distracts you from the fact that instead of heading into the chorus at that moment, they bring back Rossington for more lead guitar.

And now you wonder: what’s he going to do? Is he going to face this dude down? Try to talk him out of using the gun? Maybe pull out his own gun? Nah, he’s going to get the fuck out of there, if he can just get a little head start, that is.

Oh, won’t you
Gimme three steps, gimme three steps, mister
Gimme three steps toward the door?
Gimme three steps, gimme three steps, mister
And you’ll never see me no more

Trying to help out, the rest of the band plays this chorus at a gallop, drummer Bob Burns doubling down on his snare drum like Van Zant’s already hightailing it out to the parking lot. Which, of course, is exactly what he does in the third verse, when the guy with the gun removes his attention from Van Zant to yell at Linda Lou.

While “Gimme Three Steps” was released as a single, it didn’t go anywhere on AM — not surprising for a song that took so long to get to the chorus, but became a staple on FM radio, where all of those guitars and the witty words made a whole hell of a lot of sense.

“Gimme Three Steps”

“Gimme Three Steps” performed live in 1976

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