The song is memorable for its opening riff and story of how the speaker was dancing with a girl named Linda Lou at a bar called The Jug when a man, probably the girl's boyfriend or husband, enters with a gun (described as a .44) and catches them, angrily believing her to be cheating. The song's title refers to the chorus, "Won't you give me three steps/Gimme three steps mister/Gimme three steps towards the door?/Gimme three steps/Gimme three steps mister/And you'll never see me no more." essentially asking for three steps head start to flee. The song is also based on a real-life experience Ronnie Van Zant had at a biker bar in Jacksonville known as The Pastime, including having a gun pulled on him, and thus inspiring him to write the lyrics on his way home. In some later live versions after the plane crash and the band reformed with Ronnie's brother, Johnny, Johnny would often change the line "Wait a minute, mister, I didn't even kiss her!" to "Wait a minute, mister, I didn't STICK her!", emphasizing on the word "stick" and proclaiming the narrator's innocence. Ronnie would also sometimes comment in concert, most famously at the Knebworth Festival in 1976, that he (the narrator) didn't want to "fight him over that cunt anyway"; Johnny would also later on make the same statement in some live versions or say to the audience that they knew why the narrator would not fight the man.