Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Allman Brothers

“Lord, I was born a rambling’ man, Trying’ to make a livin’ and doin’ the best I can. And when it’s time for leavin’, I hope you’ll understand, That I was born a ramblin’ man.”

The Allman Brothers Band “Ramblin' Man”

The other night Magnum* and I had a lovely dinner at a local pub. We hopped in our car and headed home. We randomly popped in the first CD we grabbed (I know, who uses CD’s anymore?!). The Allman Brother’s Band began to play.

Instead of heading home we decided to go for a drive on a long, country road with nothing but the evening stars above us, farm fields beside us, and the open road in front of us. Traveling with the top down, cruising at 60 mph, the glorious sounds of the Brothers emanating throughout.

The guitar, the piano, the voices became intoxicating and hypnotic. Amazed at the talent of the band, we jokingly mimicked a fictitious account of their parent’s discovery in their children. Good Lord, their parents must have been proud. Their mama sure popped out some talented boys. Can you imagine, giving birth to these boys, washing dishes and all of a sudden you hear this talent coming from the garage? The conversation must have gone something like this:

“Mama, what’s that sound?”

“Papa I done don’t know but it sure sounds real good.”

“Mama, that’s them our boys. Well shoot, who knew they could play? I think we got ourselves something here.”

“Darn Papa, we sure do have some good genes. Let’s go make us some more.”

Well I did a little research and their mama was indeed referred to as Mama, Mama A to be exact, but their Papa died when they boys were very young. He was murdered. Then Duane Allman died in a motorcycle crash at the age of 25. Drug addiction, trials, stereotypical popular band tribulations…Boy I’m sure glad I didn’t know about this tragic history when we were cruising on the country road. That’s just darn near depressing!

Instead we immersed ourselves on an adventure, sheer joy from the Allman Brother’s Band guided us. My favorite Allman Brother’s song is Jessica. It’s strictly an instrumental song. Nothing but pure Southern Rock, interspersed with blues and jazz played out on an epic, musical journey.

Starting with the guitar, piano joining in, electric guitar, just riding along, happy go lucky, bouncing, little drum, then a little depth and soul climaxing back to the happy go lucky tune. Like climbing a mountain, or running a marathon, the instruments single out then slowly build, joining, teasing the listener, and then POW, the piano breaks out and WOW! It’ an adrenaline pumper for sure and it goes on and on for over seven minutes. It’s such a happy, confident, carefree, revolutionary tune. It’s genius. The antithesis of every wandering instinct inbred in man.

I remember the song Jessica playing in the movie “Field of Dreams” when James Earl Jones and Kevin Costner were cruising in their VW van to go find the ghosts of baseball past. There they were, two grown men, acting like kids, out on a country road, pursuing a crazy scavenger hunt to find The Babe.

Then my mind wandered to a more personal memory, back when I was a young teen, oh maybe 14 years of age. Summertime on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Hot, humid, salty, sailing and heaven. I was sailing on the Chesapeake Bay as part of a summer camp my grandmother had given as a gift. My cousin Jimmy would pick me up at the end of each day in his little, blue MG. And we would cruise back to our grandmother’s house on a long, 10 mile open road from Oxford to Easton with farm fields beside us, the bay beyond the fields, the blue sky with scorching sun above us, and nothing but youth in front of us.

Jimmy must have gotten that little blue car up to 100 mph. And Jimmy wasn’t and isn’t a reckless boy. Highly intelligent, calculated, cautious, play by the rules sort of guy. I don’t know if he was just showing off to his little cousin but we were flying and it was awesome! And Jessica came blasting on the radio.

Such freedom with carelessness abandoned, with the wind and the sun and the salt air, I was giddy as I felt my independence on the horizon, clueless to the impending finality of my childhood. We were young and the song sang out to our youth and rebellion. Such a fond memory immortalized by a song.

Magnum and I continued to cruise down the long, country road, living freely in the moment, with no destination, just enjoying the ride and the legends. Two crazy kids on the open road.

*Magnum is my husband’s character name. Any likeness to a similar character is strictly coincidental.


  1. Now I have to learn that song.

    Jimmy doing 100 mph with you in the car? Tell him he is grounded!!

  2. I'm with Joe, Jimmy should be grounded.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

  3. My fratty bro, The Wondrous Crankster, referred me over here - and I'm delighted that he did! Your tale reminded me of my brief Allman Bros experience. Back in the early 70's I trekked from Kansas City to the Twin Cities to take in an Allman Brothers outdoor concert. My pot-addled memory clearly recalls grooving on the band's messing with incredible guitar riffs echoing off the downtown skyscrapers.

  4. Your post makes me want to go on a long drive with my husband...but of course not at 100 mph! A song sure has a way of bringing you back, doesn't it? Music is awesome.

  5. Lovely memories, and more to be made. They are just a drive away!

  6. I remember when Duane Allman was killed. I was a junior in HS. The drive in the country, sounds so inviting.

    BTW, your dad said to come on over and check out your blog. I love the name of your blog.

  7. Your Dad ordered me here..your Dad is a smart guy! Loved this post. It reminded me of my youth before the Allman Bros but a convertible can be fun with the Beach Boys! My kiddos are around your age and if I ever find out they went 100mi an hour (and I'm sure they did) I'll smack them a good one!

  8. My Ramblin' Man memory:

    I was in high school, and after an assembly, the principal let two of the seniors (who just happened to have their guitars) play a song for us. That's the song they played. Quite well.

    The entire student body refused to return to class, so the principal acted like he made that decision, and let them play a few more songs. Can't even remember them, but I remember Ramblin' Man.

  9. Coming over as instructed, I do like your writing style and well remember the freedom feeling of an open, empty road in front of me. At 17, I had just a little motorbike and didn't do anywhere near 100mph, but the joy is the same. I don't remember the song at all, possibly it didn't get airplay here in Australia. I'll find it on you tube.

  10. Your Dad was right, you write beautifully. I love the flow. In my head it was narrated by someone in a slow Southern drawl like a voice over in a film of distant times.

  11. By order of your father, I came to see your blog. What a brilliant writer you are. Most enjoyable read.

  12. Somehow as I was reading, I got the feeling that your Dad was just now learning about the 100 mile per hour ride, That was one grey hair you didn't get to earn Joeh.
    Really nice job telling the story and I could feel your joy. Might have done something similar in my day, actually to the same song. Thanks for the memory.

  13. I once got my MGB up to about 85 on a long straight street in a big city late one drunken night. Then I came to my senses. Some dumb things you just gotta do.

  14. I completely get what you were feeling. I have felt that same way with some great tunes playing. Queen, Aerosmith, 32 Special to name a few.

  15. I had somehow missed your last post, but I read it today. That one & this, as always, are excellent!!

  16. I started out thinking that I don't know anything by The Allman Brothers, but then I quickly went over to YouTube and searched for "Jessica." Well, of course I know that song! And I agree, perfect for a night-time drive with the top down. Well, during the summer, if you are up north.

    Love your writing!

  17. I wish there was a "like" button for every comment.

  18. I remember when Duane Allman was killed. I was a junior in HS. The drive in the country, sounds so inviting.


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