The music in a book about Duane Allman
People who know me even a little know I love music from almost all genres. I sing out loud no matter where I am, and sometimes break into dance in store aisles, at friends’ homes and definitely in my living room and kitchen. I also love books, submerging myself into the stories of fiction and nonfiction.
Music has always been in the forefront and background of my life. My parents played all genres of music almost daily. We danced in the living room, listened while my parents cooked, sang in the car together, turned it up during backyard barbecues. From The Allman Brothers Band, Neil Diamond, Bob Seger, Diana Ross, Kenny Rogers, Gordon Lightfoot, anything Motown, Willie Nelson, BB King, Alabama, Bob Marley, The Carpenters and so many more, music has always fed my soul. How can it not? There is a song for every soundtrack of life. Happiness, heartbreak, romance, anger, impatience, celebration and more. You’ll find a song for the mood and moment!
The Allman Brothers Band has long been a favorite band to listen to. Since childhood, their music has filled my life. A good friend and I often talk about music, including our shared appreciation of The Allman Brothers Band. During a recent conversation about the band and, and most notably, Duane Allman, he recommended a book, Please Be With Me, a Song for My Father, Duane Allman, written by Galadrielle Allman, Duane’s daughter. I’m appreciative that he led me to this book because I really enjoyed reading it.
This book provides great insight into a talented man, and the many people who surrounded him, including the other band members, to create amazing music that lives on today. It invites you to meet and learn about a man driven to play soulful, beautiful music. It welcomes you to so many talented musicians that we know and enjoy, such as Gregg Allman, , Jaimoe, Eric Clapton, Aretha Franklin, BB King and many others. It pulls you into the journeys taken by a group of brothers and family who exhausted themselves striving to be successful at what they loved doing. It makes you wish you were at the shows, festivals and studio sessions to witness greatness being played. And it shares the grief of a daughter, family and friends who lost Duane much to young, leaving you to wonder what magic he would have played if only he lived longer.
I’m amazed at how the guys played together, so often improvising to provide us with beautiful music. How amazing would it be to sit in on those jam sessions? I now listen to each song a little differently, closing my eyes to hear the notes of various instruments, almost feeling the emotion put into each instrument. My favorite song, Little Martha, brings a smile every time. There is something about that song that fills me with quiet joy, peace and inspiration. And, yes, I admit I just stopped writing to listen to the song again (I’m okay with being a dork!).
The book takes you through many pieces of Duane’s life, including family, school, drugs and alcohol. On this note, it still often fascinates me how common so many types of hard drugs were (and are) used in the music industry. When you look at the number of talented people, both famous and not, we lose to drugs and alcohol every day, it makes you wonder the purpose. Alas, that is not a topic I can solve today.
Duane worked hard to create his music, bringing people together and watching out for his band members. Galadrielle brought Duane to life in this book, which I wonder, and hope, gave her peace and insight into a father she didn’t get to have for long.
The band, particularly Duane, seemed to accomplish so much at young ages. Their popularity was already growing steadily when in his early 20s. Impressive what they achieved – a true example of what happens when you put your mind and determination into something. It of course helps when you’re so passionate about something, as Duane (and the entire band) so obviously was with music.
Of course, Duane’s sudden death overshadows much of the story. Even as I read about Gregg and their childhood, their struggles and successes, I knew the part was coming that shared his death, and the subsequent reactions following the news. I also didn’t realize that Berry Oakley died so soon after Duane. What a double loss for those who loved them both. There are no answers to ‘what if’ in life, but we all still at some point ask the question. I know thousands of people wonder what talent Duane would have shared with the world had he lived.
I also related to Galadrielle as a daughter who lost her father. I am grateful for the almost 30 years of moments and memories with my dad. I cherish those as I walk through every day without him. Like her, I so enjoy hearing new stories about my dad from his childhood or as I was growing up. I smile when I meet people who knew him. She wrote that people who are left remember the moment right before the person is gone. My mind certainly flooded with memories as her sentence rang true. I recall watching him take his last breath, then walking from the room to shut off the oxygen machine. My lungs suddenly felt like they were stopping too, so I hurried outside to suck in fresh air, sat in a chair and put my head between my legs, wondering if my heart and lungs would stop as his did, grappling with how I sat, living and breathing as a cancer survivor, while a different version of the disease just made sure my dad would never again do the same. That moment changed my outlook on life and my goals for my future.
Shortly before my dad died, he told me to not look at what if, but instead live each day with appreciation and gratitude, without hesitation. Live in the moment and don’t let good people out of your life if you can help it. Reading about Duane’s drive and motivation reminded me of my dad’s advice. I appreciate the emotions Galadrielle must have experienced as she wrote this poignant story of a father she barely knew. It’s a beautiful story to the man, music and memories. If you’re a music lover, history lover, or simply a book lover, I recommend this book for you.