I was sitting on the porch today enjoying the beauty of the Memorial Day sunshine, when my mom came out to tell me some disheartening news. A member of our family had passed away; or so it seemed. Gregg Allman has always been a part of our lives, and to hear of his passing, does create a void in a way. Now I can’t claim to be an Allman Brother’s fan. My father will tell you I have spent most of my life rolling my eyes at him, whenever he begins reveling in the grovel of Gregg’s voice or the 15 minute drum solo of Jaimoe, which my brother and I loving know as “Gregg’s bathroom break.” But, even if we couldn’t quite appreciate or understand Gregg’s music while we were growing up listening to Britney Spears or Eminem, I can honestly look back and see that Gregg, the Allman Brother’s, and my dad’s love for them, has changed my life.
While each generation finds its own unique sound, I believe that it is the music that our parent’s expose us to from a young age, that truly helps root our appreciation of music and the genre’s that we will most gravitate to. As mentioned, I was a 90’s baby’s with bubble gum pop ruling my record choices for a good portion of my early years. However, my dad never let us get into the car without listening to at least one of his songs first. “One song, and then you can have control of the radio,” he would promise. Of course it would always be an Allman Brother’s song, which was 10+ minutes long and we would get to where we were going just as the song was finishing! As much as this begrudged us at the time, our exposure to musicians playing instruments and songwriting that had deeper meaning than the puddly pop we were indebted to, was a blessing. It may have taken a while for me to come around, but by the time I was heading into high school, I had come to discover my own rock legends and delve more into classic rock music.
For me it was and will probably always be Fall Out Boy. My brother passed down a burned copy of their Take This to Your Grave album, and from the moment I heard “Saturday” my music bubble, in which I only listened to Top 4o, was shattered. I soon was intrigued to learn more about Fall Out Boy’s influences and what musicians inspired them. I soon was rediscovering and truly appreciating the music that my parents had always had on in the background. Bob Dylan, Billy Joel, Neil Young, Bob Seger, and most notably the Beatles. I even ended up writing my college entrance essay about The Beatles. An essay about how much they impacted me, and how all the music of my parent’s generation influenced me. All the music, I thought, but the Allman Brothers, which I did in fact bring up in the essay. I still felt that I couldn’t quite connect with Gregg. But, the universe was determined to never let the Allman Brothers get too far away from me, even as I journeyed into adulthood. When I first met my college advisor, he mentioned, I gathered jokingly, that the only reason I got into the school was that the essay mentioned his favorite band. “Oh yeah, the Beatles,” I thought. Nope! The Allman Brothers, even if it was a line about how I didn’t care for them, he was at least proud that I knew who they were.
Gregg’s passing is truly the end of an error in this household. I doubt that his music will die out with him, and I in fact am fully prepared to hear his music coming from my Dad’s speakers in an incessant celebration of his life for the next few days, but it does mean the end of my dad and his 4 brothers donning their Eat a Peach shirts and heading out for the umpteenth time to go see Gregg in concert, and the pure joy that comes along with that. I know this will hurt, because if my crying at coming within inches of Andrew Mcmahon at a recent show is any indication, I know how awesome it feels to see your idol in concert.
So rest easy Gregg, they will never catch the Midnight Rider, and they will never be able to find a musician who can fill your shoes.