“Freight train, each car looks the same, all the same. And no one knows the gypsy’s name, And no one hears his lonely sighs, There are no blankets where he lies. Lord, in his deepest dreams the gypsy flies, With sweet Melissa.” – Melissa by Gregg Allman & Duane Allman
In 1979 any Southern boy worth his weight in SKOAL had three 8-track tapes in his car; Lynyrd Skynyrd – (pronounced ‘lĕh-‘nérd ‘skin-‘nérd), The Marshall Tucker Band – Carolina Dreams and The Allman Brothers Band – At Fillmore East. These three groups formed the basis of everything that was right and true in our southern hearts. Now we probably had some Earth, Wind and Fire and maybe some Ohio Players 8-tracks too but we only listened to those if we got lucky and found a girl willing to ride around with us.
Me and my buddies spent many a muggy Friday night listening to Statesboro Blues pound through my Jensen Tri-axles speakers cruising through the McDonald’s parking lot trying to attract the attention of anything female and remotely cute. Some nights it worked, most nights it didn’t, but we always had great tunes, a fresh can of SKOAL and a warm, cheap beer stuck between our legs. What more could a seventeen year old Southern boy ask for?
Gregg Allman died this past Saturday at the age of 69. Honestly, Gregg should have been dead many years ago but some how, some way he kept breathing and thankfully singing. I never got to see Gregg or The Allman Brothers play live, I got close (see my post The death of a drummer) but for whatever reason it just never worked out.
The Allman Brothers were a band of both magic and tragedy. Death wreaked havoc on them early but they kept playing on. They broke-up more than once, added members, fired Dickey Betts, dealt with drugs, alcohol, Cher, and new livers but they kept on playing. But now the voice of The Allman Brothers has been silenced.
2017 is turning into a tough year for me and my musical heroes. Given all of his health issues Gregg’s death was not that big of a surprise. Chris Cornell on the other hand still bothers me while I continue to be amazed that Keith Richards is still walking on this earth.
I go to McDonald’s now to get a double cheeseburger in my uncool Dad car. Anything female and remotely cute doesn’t even give me a second glance today. But I can still listen to Gregg sing Stormy Monday and remember a time, just moments ago.
“Take one last look before you leave, ‘Cause oh, somehow it means so much to me, And if you ever need me, you know just where I’ll be, So please call home, if you change your mind, Oh, I don’t mind” – Please Call Home by Gregg Allman