Friday, March 15, 2013

duane allman

I dig the idea of non-racist rednecks. Rock redneckery, as it were, consists of two poles, the light and the dark, and the juxtaposition of these poles has very little to do with the quality of the music. It’s a contrast of worldviews. Skynard, for instance, may have taken exception to Southern Man, and maybe they were overly enthusiastic in flying the Confederate Stars ‘n Bars, but they weren’t racists.  There’s a genuine humanitarian and compassionate strain in what they have to say. And the Allman Brothers – especially Duane, Gregg, and Dickey Betts - were redneck hippies playing in a racially integrated band. What this means, among many things, is that they were hippies without having the pretension and self-importance that afflicted so many of their northern and western countercultural counterparts. And what could be better than that?  Duane Allman was especially appealing as an unassuming and gentlemanly hippie.  The other side of the rock redneck spectrum is reserved for the likes of ZZ Top and, most vile of all, the nooge.  I’ve never liked the nooge much anyway, so it ain’t no big thang, but ZZ Top have their share of blisteringly  rockin’ moments, which is too bad in a way because it’s hard for me to get past their love affair with George W. Bush...  …When I need a dose of benignly redneck-ish rock, I’m most likely to reach for the Allman Brothers.  Duane was a phenomenal guitarist, and Blue Sky – recorded before but released after Duane’s fatal motorcycle crash – is the Allmans at the height of their guitar-spangled excellence.  The song never fails to energize me, but it also has a somber dimension because it's a final bit of brilliance from a gentle and supremely talented soul who was taken from us at the tender age of 24.  We can’t know what Duane Allman would’ve done had he lived a full life, but the majestic sparkle of Blue Sky surely gives us some clues…

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