Idlewild South

Greg Allman Probably Had More To Do With Me Choosing a College in Virginia Than I Would Like to Admit

Greg Allman died back in May. His death didn’t seem to generate a giant outpouring, though I was truly bummed by it. There are a couple of albums I have worn a hole in during my life. The Allman Brothers’ At Fillmore East (which I grew up calling “Live at the Fillmore East”) is one of them. I think I have owned it in every format. I have a digital copy in iTunes, and owned it on vinyl, cassette, and CD. I have no idea what happened to my vinyl copy. I wish I had it now.

Band on front. Roadies on back.
This is where you clean your dope.

For the millennials; you can walk over the lawn if you are willing to listen to weird uncle Gutbloom wax nostalgic about the paleolithic era of dope smoking. You see, children, we used to get these giant four-finger ounces of commercial brown weed for $40. The weed had seeds in it and had to be “deseeded.” The proper way to do that was by unfolding a double album and using interior cover as a workspace.

The album mattered because… albums matter, man. You wouldn’t want to use a uncool record, say like Frampton Comes Alive, to do something as spiritually significant as packing bong hits. Consequently, even now, some three or four decades since I last smoked pot in earnest, listening to this tune makes me feel stoned.

There are only two other albums that transport me into a nostalgic revelry of pot smoke and tapestry strewn ceilings the way At Fillmore East does. They are Santana’s Abraxas, and a mongrel Jimi Hendrix record released posthumously called Hendrix in the West.

If you watch the video of Whipping Post, and I think you should, around the 9:50 mark you get a full dose of “space.” Listening to space is what we did to unshackle the constraints of suburbia before there were video games and social media.

I understand if you can’t make it through the first minute of that video. Not everyone likes licorice. I love that stuff. I have been listening to it my whole life.

I don’t just listen to the music of my youth. I also listen to the recent versions of the music of my youth. I don’t mind watching rock stars of yesteryear in their older incarnations. I am a fan of AARP Bob Dylan and geriatric Mick Jagger. I saw John Lee Hooker when he was in his 70s and he was wonderful. Here is an older Greg Allman playing Elmore James’s Stormy Monday, which I sing in the shower most Mondays, and on Tuesdays… because Tuesday is just as bad.

I like that thinning-hair, skinny-armed, voice-depleted Greg Allman. Somehow, I think it works. The full power younger version was, to my mind, a rock god.

While At Fillmore East is the Allman Brothers album I listened to the most, my first album was Eat A Peach. It was the voice of Greg Allman on One Way Out that got me hooked.

I would have liked to have more old Greg Allman to listen to. I bet he would have liked to keep making music.

When you listen to this late version of Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More, I’m pretty sure he changes the lyric:

You don’t need no gypsy to tell you why
Ya can’t let one precious day to slip by
Well, look inside yourself, and if you don’t see what you want
Maybe sometimes then ya don’t
But, leave your mind alone and just get high

to

But, leave your mind alone, we’ll all get by

We’ll all get by, I guess.

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