18 February 2017

A Southern Classic Turns 45

Garden & Gun recently reminded me of the fact that the Allman Brothers' classic Eat a Peach album turned 45 on February 12th this year. I was 14 when I purchased that album in 1972. It was my introduction to both the Allman Brothers and the genre of Southern Rock. As G&G's piece reveals, the original title of the album was "The Kind We Grow in Dixie." The band's drummer, Butch Trucks, didn't care much for that title but the cover art reminded him of something that the recently deceased Duane Allman had said during an interview with Good Times Magazine: "Every time I'm in Georgia, I eat a peach for peace." Trucks believes that the inspiration for Allman's quote came, somewhat ironically, from a T.S. Eliot poem.

I quickly became an ardent Allman Brothers fan and would purchase every album they produced. And I would follow, in similar fashion, the same pattern with the Marshall Tucker band and other Southern Rock groups. Though no longer much of a rock-n-roller, I still have a strong sentimental and yes, even spiritual, attachment to the Eat a Peach album. My favorite song from Eat a Peach is, "Blue Sky."

Even at the very unspiritual age of 14 (at least for me), the song always had a nostalgic, peaceful and spiritual feel to me. The melody is beautiful and soothing, as are the words with their reference to nature, the South and Christianity:

Walk along the river, sweet lullaby, it just keeps on flowing,
It don't worry 'bout where it's going, no, no.
Don't fly, mister blue bird, I'm just walking down the road,
Early morning sunshine tell me all I need to know

You're my blue sky, you're my sunny day.
Lord, you know it makes me high when you turn your love my way,
Turn your love my way, yeah.

Good old sunday morning, bells are ringing everywhere.
Goin to Carolina, it won't be long and I'll be there


Also on the album is an instrumental titled "Little Martha." When I met my wife to be in 1978, her small frame and first name (Martha) immediately reminded me of that song. She has been to me, forever since, Little Martha.

You can read the G&G piece here

And, another interesting piece about the Allman Brothers appeared, of all places, at Breitbart:
What the Allmans and others created was a vehicle through which we could recapture the pentatonic-based blues that the British artists of the 1960s co-opted, brilliantly electrified, refined and exported back to us.  Southern Rock was our reflexive response to The Rolling Stones, Cream, The Who, Led Zeppelin and others.
Although don’t call it “Southern Rock” to Gregg. He will be the first to remind us that rock and roll originated in the South. “‘Southern Rock’ hell. Just call it ‘Rock Rock!” he said on more than one occasion, and he has a point. Although no one can argue with the brilliance of Clapton, Page, Beck, Townshend and the other lads from the UK, they would not have existed but for the advent of the blues sound that percolated up from the post-reconstruction Deep South.

And it came at a time when, after a hundred years of being looked down by the country outside Dixie while suffering their own racial dysfunctions at home, the South was looking for a reason to be proud again … and the rest of the country looking for a reason to love the South again.

It is no coincidence that the advent of the southern Allman Brothers and the rest, the growth of southern Capricorn Records and the election of a southern peanut farmer as president (for better or worse) happened in tandem.
Happy birthday to a Southern classic. Go eat a peach.


Arlee Bird said...

You've expressed my sentiments in this post. I still have a number of the Allman albums on CD now though rarely listen to them. 1972 was a standout year in my memories though at the time it didn't always seem that good.

My mostly unwritten "Great American Novel" is set during that time and inspired by the music of Eat a Peach. I might never finish the novel, but those times often swirl past my memories as I try to recapture the reasons that I'll often cite 1972 as one of favorite years.

Arlee Bird
Tossing It Out

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Hello Arlee. Thanks for the comment. Somewhere in my files is a ling to a GREAT documentary about Southern Rock and those years. I'll keep searching to see if I can find it and post a link. I think you'd like it.


Jine said...

Sadly, and as you may know, Butch Trucks committed suicide on January 24 of this year. His legacy lives on through his music and that of his nephew Derek.

"Blue Sky" was written by Dickey about his wife Sandy Blue Sky, an American Indian, although I think we all relate it to a beautiful day spent surrounded by Creation. That tidbit I learned from Alan Paul's 2015 musical biography on the group "One Way Out", which I highly recommend. The surviving members and roadies contribute their insights and recollections to the work, and is the best musical bio I've ever read. It also serves as a look into the potential for tragedy in lives lived on the edge.

I guess we're brothers in yet one more way Rick. It's a shame that Gregg renounces his heritage.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Doug - I did not know about Trucks. I did know the story behind Blue Sky. Betts was my favorite band member. I understand he's still performing. Yes, G. Allman has joined the "Southerner Self-Hate Society." We can probably thank Cher for that.