That Smell

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"That Smell"
Song by Lynyrd Skynyrd
from the album Street Survivors
Released October 17, 1977
Recorded Studio One, Doraville, Georgia, July–August 1977
Genre Southern rock, hard rock
Length 5:47
Label MCA Records
Songwriter(s) Allen Collins
Ronnie Van Zant
Producer(s) Tom Dowd
Street Survivors track listing
"What's Your Name"
"That Smell"
"One More Time"

"That Smell" is a song by the southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd. Written by Ronnie Van Zant and guitarist Allen Collins, it was released in 1977 on the album Street Survivors. At the time the song was written, the band had been drinking and doing many different drugs.[1] Van Zant had said that he started drinking heavily to relieve the pressure of performing in front of large audiences.[1]

Van Zant's inspiration for the song was the increasing reckless indulgences of the band members culminating in the evening when guitarist Gary Rossington got drunk and high and survived the crash of his new car into an oak tree along Mandarin Road in Jacksonville, Florida[1] (where the band was founded). Van Zant was thus inspired to write the song as a warning about the consequences of careless overuse of drugs and alcohol. Van Zant said, "I had a creepy feeling things were going against us, so I thought I'd write a morbid song (as a warning)."[1] The lyrics cautioned that "tomorrow might not be here for you", and that "the smell of death surrounds you". Three days after the album was released, the band was devastated by a plane crash killing several members including Van Zant.

The song is featured in the films Blow (2001), Joe Dirt (2001) and Wild Hogs (2007), at the end of the fourth episode of the HBO television drama series True Blood (2008). The song appeared in the first season of Entourage and the song also appeared in the twenty-first episode of the second season of Miami Vice (1984).


  1. ^ a b c d Classic Rock Stories, Tim Morse, (New York.: St. Martin's Griffin, 1998), p. 83

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