Shenandoah's recent collaboration with Charlie Daniels, "Freebird in the Wind," is a poignant tribute to the members of Lynyrd Skynyrd who lost their lives in an infamous 1977 plane crash. 

Below, the bandmates explain the story behind the song, including their hometown connection to Lynyrd Skynyrd and the reason why it was so important for Daniels to participate in the track. Read on! 

Mike McGuire: One of the reasons that we wanted to cut this song was that Marty was really good friends with the guy that wrote it. We were doing a show in Louisiana, not far from where the plane crash happened, and he took Marty over to the plane crash site and played Marty this "Freebird" song.

We come from Muscle Shoals, Ala., and that's where Lynyrd Skynyrd recorded their first record, at a studio called [the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio at] 3614 Jackson Highway. We made a point of going to that studio, and that's where we recorded the song, was in the studio where Skynyrd recorded their earliest hits. Plus, too, it was coming up on the 50th anniversary of the crash, so everything just kinda lined up. That's why we recorded the song.

Marty Raybon: When I called Charlie [Daniels], I told him about the tune and everything like that, and he said, "Look, say no more. What do you want me to do?"

It wasn't none of this, "Well, I gotta check manager," or anything like that. He just said, "Look, Ronnie Van Zant kept me from starving." He said, "Can I quote this for you?" And then the recitation he does on the front of the intro, is what he quoted to me. He said, "I don't wanna sing on the record. You've got that one. If I can be a part of it, this is what I wanna do...We'll video my part and just add that to it."

The things he had to say, you could tell -- not just the loyalty he had for Ronnie Van Zant, but I heard a great deal of love and caring for somebody that at one time [came to his aid] when he was so in need. You don't run into that kind of friendship anymore. Not even in this business. Honest to God, I believe this is the last holdout, but you don't run into it as much as you used to back then.

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