“So I, ain’t a-wastin time no more
‘Cause time goes by like hurricanes, and faster things.” – The Allman Brothers Band
Let’s Go F*cking Play
In the wake of tragedy, there is really only thing to do.
“Let’s go f*cking play” said Gregg Allman.
And that’s what they would do. The Allman Brothers Band.
They had just lost Duane Allman to tragedy. They could have ended the band right there. Nobody would have blamed them in the face of such a loss. How could you?
But instead, they went all in.
Eat a Peach
A few weeks before the accident that would claim their slide guitarist’s life, the band had started recording the follow-up to their landmark live album from 1971, which they would eventually title Eat a Peach.
Gregg Allman has said that carrying on with their music was the only way the band knew how to deal with its grief. The music was their solace. It was their salvation.
The band was recording their fourth LP (including At Fillmore East) in Miami at Criteria studios. The band worked in studio D, where a century-old Steinway Piano stood like a relic.
Tom Dowd stood in the room. He had produced all of the Allman Brothers’ previous work, and he would continue to collaborate with the southern rock pioneers on this new record.
The music became everything to the wounded soldiers of the band. It was their comfort. It was their meaning. It even could bring them a little bit of joy. Sometimes.
Music has a way of helping the soul to heal from anything.
The band recorded a new song called “Melissa” that had been discarded by the band previously for being too saccharine. Gregg has called Dickey Betts’ work on that recording Betts’ finest work.
Things were managing to work musically, despite the holes in their hearts.
Betts introduced another tune to the band, “Les Brers in A Minor.”
Gregg had a tune he had been fiddling around with before Duane had passed. The music had largely been finished, but the lyrics were not there yet.
The old Steinway called out to Gregg.
He sat down gently at its inviting, comforting ivory keys. He played the song’s central motif. Bassist Berry Oakley’s ears pricked up. Jaimoe Johanson was gripped too.
The song would become the trenchant “Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More.” It alluded to the plight of soldiers returning from the harrowing war in Vietnam. But it was also about Duane Allman.
The One Thing you need to Learn from the Allman Brothers Band
In the face of unspeakable tragedy, it is so tempting to give up.
Was this even still the Allman Brothers Band without Duane Allman alive and playing with them? The band had to make a decision.
And that decision was – yes.
Yes to life. Yes to the music. Yes to it all.
The pain would not go away, but the band found a way to fight through the pain. Because that’s what a person has to do.
The only other option is to withdraw. From the world. From life. To hang it up. To give up.
But that’s never the right option. People are natural fighters in the best sense of that word. We’re gritty. We carry on even when the circumstances are totally dire.
The searing pain makes us stronger.
The Allman Brothers Band would go on and play music. It helped them heal there aching souls.
It even brought them joy.
That one thing to learn from the Allman Brothers Band?
Carry on. Always carry on.
– Brian M. Reiser,