One Way Out is a NY Times Instant Best Seller

by AlanPaul on March 6, 2014

Thank you everyone who helped One Way Out: The Inside History of the Allman Brothers Band become a New York Times Instant Best Seller. I am humbled and honored to announce that the book debuted in its first week tied for ninth on the Hardcover Non-Fiction List.

I thought all along that I was tapping into something bigger than most others realized, but I was not certain that I was not delusional.

My goal was nothing less than the ultimate word on the greatest band in rock history and I am deeply appreciative of the feedback that indicates I may just have pulled it off, via  reader emails and the reviews – in newspapers, magazines, blogs and by regular readers like you on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.com.

I wanted to share one email I received from a svery pseical reader: john Cowan, the great bassist and singer for New Grass Revival and the doobie Brothers, among many other great outfits.

I have never met John and had no previous contact with him. His manager reccomended he read One Way Out. He did so, then wrote me the following email. Hard to describe how meaningful this is to me.

Alan,
John Cowan here. Well I finished it. What a triumph for you and all of us dedicated “Brother” fans. I literally read it every spare moment I had since starting it. This book is so revelatory and constructed in such a fashion that I really can’t thank you enough.

It’s just so nice to have such insight and access to the band with no bullshit axe grinding or tattle-tailing. I hope the guys in the band are pleased, they should be. Anyone of us that has made a life in the music business would be lucky to have a smart, well-”spoken”, thoughtful advocate like yourself. 

The truth is about New Grass Revival that Sam & I, especially in the ’70′s version of the band were using the Allmans as our template. We absolutely consciously were trying to do with Bluegrass what the Allmans were doing to the blues, which is put our own honest, personal, contemporary spin on the whole deal. Though it pissed a lot of people off and we never scaled the heights the Allmans did, I know I take a lot of personal satisfaction in the effort we made.

One of the things the book reminded of time and again is that we are supposed to create for the sole (soul) experience of creativity. Anything else is sometimes icing on the cake and sometimes just shit on our shoes.

Thank you again,
John C

And just so you know who John is… check this out:

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In 1999, Guitar World devoted an entire issue to the 30th anniversary of 1969, which we proclaimed the greatest year in rock. I wrote the histories of several landmark albums, including James Brown’s Say It Loud (I’m Black And I’m Proud). The best part of the entire project by a long shot was interviewing the great man himself. I am still searching for the interview tape, but the whole thing was a classic.

This seemed like an excellent time to revisit, what with the current run of the great biopic Get On Up.

Note how entirely ungracious he was towards Jimmy Nolen, his longtime collaborator and the man who really wrote the book on funk guitar. Brutal. I was trying to spoonfeed him questions that would lead to him proclaiming Nolen’s greatness, but he was having none of it.

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Random photo of Kirk West and the Godfather.

When James Brown released the single “Say It Loud (I’m Black and I’m Proud)” in late ‘68, he was an artist on a roll, with a huge and expanding audience, both black and white, and a steady diet of hits on both the pop and r&b charts. But “Say It Loud,” interpreted by many white listeners as an angry rebuff, was to be his final pop hit.

Today, Brown says that anyone who viewed the song as an angry anthem was way off base. “I was trying to do two things,” says Brown, who recently released I’m Back (Private Music). “One, give the power structure –which in America means the white power structure – a way to understand how we felt, and know that we had people who could do things and just wanted a fair shake. Two, I wanted young black kids to wake up and realize that they should be proud of who they were, get an education and try to make something of themselves. Proud and bad are too different things. I never wanted to separate. My thing was to let the pride be there, and to let people get into the skin of a black man and realize that he only wants to be recognized for the contributions that he has made.

“I was just telling it like it is. Would you rather have someone tell you how they’re feeling to your face, or wait till you turn around and whisper their anger behind your back? You got to swing for the fences every time you’re at bat; you owe it to your children and grandchildren. That’s what I was doing, and I’ve always been about building, not destroying. I was there when Dr. King was assassinated, telling everyone to cool out, trying to remind everyone that you don’t want to destroy your country. You want to build it.”

Nonetheless, notes Brown expert Harry Weinger, “That record lost him a big audience. From ‘65 to ‘68, he was extremely popular, with his audience getting wider and wider. Then he did this album and lost his white audience, and never had another top 10 single.”

What all these listeners were missing is the fact that whatever his politics, Brown’s music was just getting leaner and meaner, and ever funkier. The album Say It Loud, which was really a collection of singles recorded throughout ’68, also included the impossibly taught “Licking Stick” and the organ-driven instrumental “Shades of Brown.”

“Hey, that was just continuing what I started a few years back when I changed the music from being on the 2 and 4, where it had always been to the 1 and changing the emphasis from the downbeat to the upbeat,” Brown says. “That’s what created funk music – gospel and jazz mixed together by James Brown with a little help from God. And I just kept doing it and innovating it, right on through ‘Say It Loud’ and further.”

The single and most of the album also feature the distinctive sound of Brown’s backing band, the JB’s featuring guitarist Jimmy Nolen, generally credited as a major funk innovator. Brown says Nolen was great, all right, but he really wasn’t all that original.

“Sometimes ignorance is bliss,” Brown says. “Jimmy Nolen was a man who could play anything I wanted him to play and didn’t know enough to play anything but what I wanted. And that’s what made him great on ‘Say It Loud’ and everything else.”

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RIP Brian Farmer, another good man gone too soon.

August 26, 2014

Warren Haynes’ longtime and much beloved guitar tech Brian Farmer died Sunday August 24, at his home near Nashville.  Farmer died peacefully in his sleep. He was 53. “He was a close friend, a devoted worker, and a lover of life,” says Haynes. “We traveled around the world together and shared many experiences-mostly while laughing. […]

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An interview with John Fogerty

August 23, 2014

I interviewed John Fogerty last year for the Wall Street Journal in advance of three shows he played at the Beacon. We spoke a lot longer than I could come close to capturing in that piece. A more extensive Q&A ran in Hittin the Note magazine. Here it is . •• It’s a bit overwhelming […]

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The full text of Amazon’s George Orwell letter

August 10, 2014

New York Times reporter David Streitfield has been covering the Amazon/Hachette dispute since it began. He has an interesting, humorous take on the latest development – a rather odd and clearly misguided George Orwell reference. Money quote: The retailer argues that people against e-books are against the future, and talks about how the book industry hated […]

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Checking in with the North Mississippi All Stars

August 7, 2014

I’ll be hanging out with the Dickinson brothers in a couple of weeks at Butch Trucks’ Roots Rock Revival. Great guys, great band, great spirit. This story originally ran in Relix. It’s soundcheck at New Jersey’s South Orange Performing Arts Center and the North Mississippi All Stars are working out a new instrumental written by […]

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One Way Out excerpt: The recording of At Fillmore East

August 5, 2014

In honor of the release of the expanded The 1971 Fillmore East Recordings, I present the following excerpt from One Way Out: The Inside History of the Allman Brothers Band. This is a partial, very abridged version of Chapter 8. To read the full story of the making of At Fillmore East, pick up a copy of One Way […]

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That infamous interview with Duane Allman

July 31, 2014

On December 3, 1970, Duane Allman sat for an infamous interview with Dave Herman of New York’s WABC. Why was it infamous? Well, he was pretty hopped up and he said some crazy stuff, and some not-so-nice things about being a husband and father. But it’s fascinating thing for fans and biographers alike. Have a […]

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Jaimoe and Junior Mack – an interview

July 24, 2014

The interview below originally ran on Guitarworld.com and WSJ.com’s Speakeasy blog – I combined two stories into one here. Over the ensuing two-plus years I have only gained more respect for Jaimoe’s Jassz Band and for Junior Mack, whom i have gotten to know quite well. And I have developed a much deeper relationship with […]

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Thank you Johnny Winter for what you did for Muddy Waters and much more…

July 18, 2014

Six Strings Down. RIP Johnny John Dawson Winter III, February 23, 1944 – July 16, 2014 A couple of years ago, my good friend and Guitar World colleague Andy Aledort wrote this great, harrowing piece for GW that includes some details about the albino guitarist’s 1994 brush with death. Andy knew Johnny really well, musically and personally […]

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From the archives: Derek Trucks, Family Man

July 15, 2014

I moved back from Beijing just before New Year’s 2009 and was a bit adrift after a tremendous 3.5 year run there. I had left an award-winning column, an award-winning band and an exciting life I loved. I was sitting in an empty, drafty house in frigid New Jersey and wondering what was next. Though […]

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