I work with a VNP.
Very Nice Person. Amanda.
We just started working together in May. For Father's Day she gives me a book about The Allman Brothers.
"One Way Out. The Inside History. The Allman Brothers Band." Very cool thing to do.
And an excellent book. Of course I already have it and have already read it, but I did not tell her that because I appreciated what she did.
At first I was going to slip it into the book case, but then I got to thinking that this was the perfect time to re-read the book.
So I did.
The book was written by Alan Paul, a guy who has been following and writing about the band for 25 years. The thing I like about the book is that it is an oral history based on hundreds of interviews over the years.
What I really like about it is that when he gets conflicting stories from different people about the same situation he just puts them right out there side by side, instead of trying to get at the truth (a concept that doesn't exist).
"Yeah, that's when Gregg bought me a plane ticket to get back from the west coast."
"Yeah, that's when Gregg sent him gas money so he could ride his bike back from the west coast."
"Yeah, that's when the crazy son of a bitch hitch hiked all the way back from the west coast."
Let's face it - memory is subjective - especially when you cloud it with a whole bunch of booze and drugs.
Anyway, reading the book was the right thing to do. I read it reverently and with a totally different perspective, given the finality of the situation.
It reiterated the fact that I loved the whole package about this band.
The music, obviously. But the rebel image too.
They looked wild, they looked tough. They were insane. They traveled throughout the south in the late sixties with a black man in the band. And took a lot of shit because of it. But they always stood up for Jaimoe - they never backed down. If he wasn't allowed in a restaurant then none of them ate there.
When they weren't making any money they established a rule that the roadies got paid before the band did. Who the fuck does that? The only other band I ever heard of doing that was The Grateful Dead.
They were a pure democracy. Come decision time every member got a say. Duane was the unacknowledged leader but he never imposed his will against that of the group.
They started what came to be called Southern Rock, a description they hated because they felt it pigeon-holed them. But they did start a movement, a genre of music that wasn't there before and that inspired a lot of other bands to follow.
I loved the book, it inspired deep emotion in me (again) and I'm glad I read it.
Then I decided to take it all the way and re-read Gregg Allman's autobiography next.
Excellent. He has his own story to tell in some ways, apart from the band's history.
He was such a sensitive and vulnerable guy who was thrust unwillingly into a leadership role when his brother died in 1971. Duane was the tough guy and a natural born leader; Gregg was shy and inward directed and it was tough for him to have to carry the Allman Brothers' mantle.
He did the best he could.
I am glad I re-read the books. The timing was right and I was emotionally raw enough to get a different feel, a different perspective this time around.
I would like to now declare a moratorium on the deaths of musicians who feed me soul. I need some time to regain my balance.
Unfortunately that reality is out of my hands.