Gregg Allman: The King and Legend of Southern Rock

When it was announced that Gregg Allman had died after a brief battle from the complication of liver cancer, he joined a long list of my childhood memories of fallen musicians who have left an indelible mark on my psychic. Al Jarreau, Chris Cornell, Chuck Berry, J. Geils, all left something good within me that marked the time in which I lived in. Chris Cornell and Soundgarden were my radio days as a head comedy writer and executive producer. Chuck berry was a different variety of a seedling that became rock and roll in all of it’s variations. But Gregg Allman was a different variety, a different species, if you will, on the musical apple tree. Why did this long blond haired kid with the pussy tickler growing underneath his mouth had such a lasting impression on a poor black kid growing up in East St. Louis, Illinois?

Plain and simple, it was his music and the way he sounded as the words flowed from his lungs and out of his mouth. He had an impressive discography of hits. Everyone has their favorites, Midnight Rider, Ramblin’ Man, Whipping Post are the fan favorites. Midnight Rider had an edge to it with a layer of darkness sewn around the seams. I have this image of Saturday Night Live’s Amy Poehler doing a skit on the show when she was fully pregnant and dancing to I’m No Angel as she tries to seduce Josh Brolin. That was good and funny and disturbing and they somehow picked the appropriate song to enhance the comedy. I hope Gregg enjoyed the bit.

I was collecting my thoughts to see which of his many tunes that left that special mark on me. Midnight Rider was a very good song that I enjoyed for a long time but that wasn’t it. For me, it was a song written by Jackson Browne. Jackson Browne, for whatever reason, decided to let Gregg take it and make it his own. The song was called These Days. It was a song written for young people with old souls. For a young kid the words had impact and the music, the vocals that was sung by Gregg just added significance to a life yet life and to a life well lived.

The first two lines of the song begins with someone’s truth to life, “Well I’ve been out walking, I don’t do that much talking these days.” As a kid, this became my future. I don’t talk to many these days. It usually comes with the fact that the people that I used to talk with have nothing really important to say. It’s the same thing that I have no interest in, gossip, alcohol, sports, who they are fucking, who they’d like to fuck, who’s fucking who, money, blah, blah, blah. So I just keep to myself and keep the conversation down to a minimum. I’m happier for it.

Further down the song are the lyrics, “Well I had a lover, I don’t think I’ll risk another these days”, is such a powerful statement that I give Mr. Browne credit for even putting these words together. It’s such a simple line to lay upon the soul, to risk a lover, and all that it encompass. You step back and assess the ramification of what all of that entails. Will you or can you make that person happy? Will you or can you draw this person into your life in such a way that makes sense? It’s a complicated proposition of emotions, of commitment, of jealousy, of boredom, of pain, of happiness, of sadness that these simple words have induced.

For me, it’s the last two lines of the song that have stayed with me for all of these years. I have sang this song in butchered form with missed words from a fragmented memory and the bombardment of other visual stimulants that have diluted those selected brain cells that retain memory by a few degrees. The final line to this song is, “Please don’t confront me with my failures, I’m aware of them.” is a line for everyone and anyone who has lived life. We all have had some sort of failure that we need no reminding of, marriage, business, friendship, children, you name it, we’ve got your failure on that list. For a long time, this has been one of my mantras to life, that failures are inevitable and that given the chance, people will throw it back in your face as a form of control or to put you down. It’s just the mechanism of the beast and we must deal with it.

But Gregg Allman prepared you for it. I was thinking about where he might be if we had social media doing his heyday. And I was thinking about the artists of today and who he might be equivalent with? Well, that’s a hard call. Artist like Adele, Katie Perry, Beyonce, Justin Beiber and the like have a strong social media presence. For some, Gregg Allman had his moment in the sun at the right time. He also had his moments of pain as with anybody who’s dealt with pain. It is not forgiving and unceasing at times. He came along when he did, along with Duane, his brother, at a time where the music wasn’t digitized, manipulated, autotuned, Melodyne, and lacquered with 200 other layers just to create a song. We talk about a simpler time, who knows, it’s the generation we live in that wants those reminders of those moments, moments that are lost in the passing of people like Gregg Allman. These Days.

Well I’ve been out walking
 I don’t do that much talking these days
 These days
 These days I seem to think a lot
 About the things that I forgot to do
 For you
 And all the times I had the chance to
 
 Well I had a lover
 I don’t think I’ll risk another these days
 These days
 These days I seem to be afraid
 To live the life that I have made in song
 But it’s just that I have been losing
 For so long
 
 These days I sit on cornerstones
 Count the time in quarter tones ‘till ten
 My friend
 And now I believe I’ve come
 To see myself again
 
 These days I sit on cornerstones 
 Count the time in quarter tones ‘till ten
 My friend
 Please don’t confront me with my failure
 I’m aware of them