THE FOLLOWING WAS NOT WRITTEN BY ME, BUT BY BOB LEFSETZ.
I don’t agree with it all – “hot ‘Lanta” is not GA’s showcase – but totally dig the concept, and shared it here, because I thought my readers would enjoy. I have been a regular reader of The Lefsetz Letter for years. Check out his archives. Bob attended Gregg Allman’s 4/24 special show at The Roxy in Holywood, CA. His report:
The Allman Brothers had a slow build, their initial album was ignored, the second was known only by cognoscenti and the third blew up, not through airplay, but WORD OF MOUTH!
Imagine there was a band so good, people couldn’t stop testifying about them, dragging their friends to a show so adventurous yet refined that it fulfilled all your dreams. Never forget, it was the Allmans that closed Watkins Glen, the Band and the Dead opened for them.
This was the opener. An air guitar number so fast and furious you could not play it at home. That was the genius of Duane. He started off at 100 MPH and stayed there. The Allmans had something to prove. It was they who initiated southern rock, everybody else went through the door they opened. And when you’re breaking ground you can’t screw up, you can’t just be good, you’ve got to blow people away!
“Statesboro Blues” was the opening cut on “Fillmore East.” You dropped the needle that fall of ’71 and you were off on a wild ride, as we were Friday night. Gregg may look worse for wear, but his voice is still there, after the opening riff, after the band locks into the groove, Gregg starts to sing and then drifts his fingers over the organ keys and you’re taken right back to what once was when.
TROUBLE NO MORE
I’ll argue that the Allmans’ debut was their best work. It was sterile, the production was off, the live album is more them, but through the scrim you can hear them working their asses off, with that exquisite concoction of confidence and desire to prove.
I bought it after “Idlewild South” and “Fillmore East.” You’ve got to hear the compact five minute version of “Whipping Post.” But the highlight is “Trouble No More.”
“Don’t care how long you go
Don’t care how long you stay
Good kind treatment
Bring you home someday
Someday baby, ain’t gonna trouble, poor me, ANYMORE”!
You put me through the grinder, but not only am I done with you, I’M OVER YOU! Easier said than done, but you’re helped by music. It’s the essence of metal, it’s something pop rarely delivers. You want a sound that drowns out all the noise, that picks you up and carries you away. And that’s “Trouble No More.” Listening to the rendition Friday night I was taken right back and completely away. I got that hit of what once was. When you went to the show to be transported, away from regular life, all the b.s.
So Gregg straps on an acoustic, begins strumming one of the most famous songs in his canon, one written by Jackson Browne and done by so many others but made legendary by him on his solo album “Laid Back.”
Does it get any better than this?
NOT FOR THIS AUDIENCE!
Let me get this straight, you’re paying a hundred bucks to get in, you’re at a unique experience and you can’t even pay attention, never mind respect?
Bummed me out immensely.
What is it, the lack of seats? When they were torn out did concertgoers lose all decorum?
Or is the me generation, where everybody is a star. Gregg’s up there pouring out his heart and no one cares. I couldn’t find a box to put it all in.
AIN’T WASTIN’ TIME NO MORE
The opening cut on “Eat A Peach,” the posthumous album with a bit of new stuff and a bunch of old Duane. It never gets any respect, it’s never mentioned, but it’s a personal favorite.
“You don’t need no gypsy to tell you why
You can’t let one precious day slip by”
You’ve got to look inside, you’re the only one with the answers. Just put on a record, lay back and think, the truth will come.
Just talk to any baby boomer in the business, they heard this music and had to get closer, they didn’t get in to get rich, but to be next to the art and the artists, to turn others on to the elixir. The scene was run by musicians, who could testify about influences and desires if they could talk at all, who didn’t know brands other than Jack Daniel’s and Marlboro, who had handlers who whipped off hundreds as they did whatever they chose, knowing the music would carry them through and make everything right.
And sure, music was not free. But it was the music that generated all this heat. Because it’s all about belief. Music is religion, excise that element and you’ve got soulless pabulum that’s here today and gone tomorrow, unlike the music of the Allman Brothers.
I remember my family being pissed I called it that. A friend was going to the capital of the south, and I said they were going to “Hot ‘Lanta” and I was EXCORIATED!
Welcome to my life. Persecuted when I was not ignored. I found solace in my records, when the world was closing in I put them on.
This is Gregg’s showcase, he played it right after his break, right after introducing the band.
I know it by heart.
Uh-oh. Another acoustic number. Everybody’s talking. Walla if you’ve ever worked in the movie business. And then Gregg reaches the chorus and the assembled multitude sings…SWEET MELISSA! Almost a sigh, in unison.
The reason there are so many thirtysomething Melissas is because of this song. That’s the power of music.
Come on, can you mistake the intro? With the groove of a clomping horse? Gregg’s giving it his best, everybody’s talking and then when he reaches the chorus everybody sings…MIDNIGHT RIDER!
It was like a bizarre horror movie. Where the zombies wake up every once in a while and utter a key phrase. Every time through, every chorus. It’s like their brains had been removed but the song was in their DNA!
So, let’s see. Arena act, STADIUM ACT, survives but ends up playing a club.
But that’s not really what happened. It was a special gig tied into Stagecoach, Allman doesn’t usually play venues this small, never mind with a full horn section, and, as stated above, tickets were $100.
Was this like the jazzbos, playing deep into the night earning their keep…
Or was it a legend coming down from the mountaintop to deign us with excellence and then disappear?
You’ve got to understand, it used to be different. We used to be bored, we used to go to the bar to connect, you couldn’t do it on the internet, there’d be a jukebox, and for a while there in the seventies, it was populated with Allman hits.
But really, the band was for the dorm room, the house party, when you were all sitting in a circle with the lights down low, drinking Bud and bourbon, getting higher and higher, communing with your buddies, dreaming of getting laid but getting none.
But Gregg was getting enough for all of us. He was our hero, not someone to make fun of, but to emulate.
Not that we could ever be him. But just maybe, inspired by his music, we could achieve our dreams. Which included good sex, a fulfilling job and tickets to the show, we had to go to the show.
And we still do.
Because we remember.
When music tested limits, when it changed the world.
Bob Ezrin was right.
And if you don’t believe so, you’re young and ignorant or an oldster trying to look hip. Sure, there’s good music today. But it used to be different. Music was peopled by the best and the brightest, testing limits. The entry price was low. Albums were way under ten bucks and so were tickets. And you had to go the show, to not only be transported, but to change your life.
Music is forever.
But there was only one Renaissance. They’ve made music since the sixties and seventies, but the coalition of forces engendered greatness that hooked the entire world. The radio station was your bible, the music was your religion and the rock stars were your gods.
He’s 67 and looks it. He’s not exactly frail, but he’s not the picture of health. Up close and personal he’s a southern gentleman, with a voice so soft you can barely hear, but with a brain working overtime. He told me about breaking his arm, playing a gig the next day. And when I asked him what he thought about everybody talking during “These Days” Gregg said he didn’t even notice, because he was in the ZONE!
They do it for themselves, not us.
You can tell the difference.
And it makes all the difference.
You can get close, but you’re never gonna catch the midnight rider.
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