To The Dude Who Yelled Out ‘Free Bird’ During Obama’s Inaugural Youth Ball: For Once, It Was Funny …

Sway and Rosario DawsonBy Alex Shapiro

Through many decades, countless concerts in all different musical genres have had at least one thing linking them together: that jerk who yells “Free Bird!”

Anyone who’s been to a rock show in the past 30 years knows exactly who I’m talking about (hey, it might even have been you!). The dork who waits for a relatively quiet moment in between songs and then yells out the words — so innocently written by late Lynyrd Skynyrd singer Ronnie Van Zandt, long before the band became famous — that have become rock’s F-bomb, apparently thinking it’s the most original, clever, spontaneous concert-going stunt since the invention of crowd surfing.

Yelling “Free Bird” at a gig has never been funny. Ever. Until last night. And here’s why …

Just hours after Barack Obama’s historic nomination, the crowd at the Youth Ball (where Kanye West, Fall Out Boy and Kid Rock performed) was poised, almost silent with excitement, waiting for the new president to make his appearance. The energy in the room was palpable.

Then the music stopped and the lights faded. Sway interrupted Rosario Dawson’s interview. According to our live blog, Ashton Kutcher and Usher readied their camera phones.


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And then, right before the band began to play, heralding Obama’s appearance — as if it has been whispered into his ear by an angel, an anonymous ballgoer crowed out the words: “FREEEEEE-BIRRRRRRD!” And it was actually funny!

Why? Maybe because it was so unexpected, given the circumstances; maybe because the thought of Barack Obama busting into “Free Bird” is hilarious. Who knows? I just want to extend my hand in congratulations to that person for having the nerve to yell that at such a momentous event, and making it funny.

BUT: Never do it again. Nobody. Do it. Ever. Again.