blast from Gregg Allman, Southern man
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[August 10, 2017]
By Jeremy Gaunt
LONDON (Reuters) - So close
to death was blues rocker Gregg Allman when he was
making his final album, the cover photographer did not
get to his Savannah, Georgia, house in time.
Instead, "Southern Blood", Allman's posthumous
paean to his life and music to be released in September, is
adorned with a sepia shot of the grounds, a wooden boardwalk
heading away under the shade of Spanish Moss.
There probably could not be a more appropriate symbol for Allman,
who died from cancer in May, aged 69. From the early days with
his late brother Duane onwards, Tennessee-born Allman was the
epitome of Southern rock and blues.
"Southern Blood" is not about the South per se for that, skip
back an album to the 2011 Grammy-nominated "Low Country Blues".
This one is about Allman.
"(Gregg) was acutely aware that his time was limited," Allman's
manager and friend Michael Lehman told Reuters when asked about
the recording session.
"These compositions, they are all poignant and meaningful and
talk about his life's journey. Everyone of them had meaning (for
For his last hurrah, Allman chose a number of songs written by
friends and favorite artists including Jackson Browne, Willie
Dixon, Jerry Garcia and Lowell George.
Each song, including those written by Allman himself, touch on
something of the man -- who led a difficult life with the early
death of his brother, six divorces including from his celebrity
marriage to Cher, drug addiction, hepatitis C, a liver
transplant and, ultimately, cancer.
George's "Willin'", for example, is the tale of a hard-times
Southwestern truck driver who keeps on the road against all the
odds, a hint at Allman's near continual touring.
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Another song -- written by Mississippi bluesman Wilie Dixon -- needs
no explanation: "I Love The Life I Live, I Live The Life I Love".
In a similar vein a lot of the songs are basically goodbyes. One
such is Allman's sweet rendition of Bob Dylan's "Going, Going, Gone"
with it's starting lyrics: "I've just reached a place/Where the
willow don't bend/There's not much more to be said/It's the top of
Perhaps most poignant of all is the opening track, Allman's own "My
Only True Friend" in which he calls on the people who have followed
his music since before 1969, the year the Allman Brothers hit the
road, to remember him.
"You and I both know this river must surely flow to an end
Keep me in your heart, keep your soul on the mend
I hope you're haunted by the music of my soul, when I'm gone
Please don't fly away to find a new love".
(Reporting by Jeremy Gaunt; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)
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