This week, Gregg Allman, the leader and one-of-a-kind voice of the Allman Brothers band passed away at the age of 69 due to complications from liver cancer.
Lately, it's getting harder for me to acknowledge all of the important artists in my life dying. That's mostly because of the profound sense of loss, but partly because it is a reminder for me that I am getting up there too. Gregg's loss for me was yet another heavy one. I was a fan very early on of the Allman Brother's Band. The slide guitar work of Duane Allman was thrilling. The jams between he and Dicky, Jaimoe and Butch were hypnotic. They would carry your mind to far off places and then suddenly bring you back. I would listen to "Whipping Post" or anything else on "Live at the Fillmore" and be transported. But the first thing that pulled me in was that voice. It was soulful. It was blues-drenched and oh so emotional. And then, those songs! Gregg wrote many of the Allman Brothers Band's most loved songs.
Later, as an adult I got to meet and interview the band many times. I found Gregg to be the epitome of the Southern Gentleman. He was kind to me and laughed along with my jokes. Oh, I know, he had baggage from years of excess and abuse, but knowing his history, I gave him a total pass. Some of us deal with grief by crying, therapy and time passing, and some go to self-destructive behavior of drugs and alcohol. I knew from talking with him how much he looked up to and adored his brother Duane. I know how much he loved Mama Allman and appreciated the many sacrifices she made bringing him and Duane up. On this week's podcast, I'll share a few cuts from those interviews and share some of his music, but another bright light of music has left the earth. Rest in peace, Gregg.
I produced two national radio shows that aired this weekend across the country.
The first one I spent the last few weeks working on because I felt the weight of history on me: The 50th anniversary of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band."
If you were between the ages of 10 - 30 in 1967, when that album was unleashed upon an unsuspecting world, you felt it. For the first few weeks it was out, I listened to it constantly. So did everyone in my relative age group. You heard it coming out of stores or cars going by. You'd sit and listen to it with silent reverie with your friends and talk about it. It was mind-altering and at the same time, reaffirming. It's like when I go on protest marches these days...it let me know at the time that I was not alone. That there were other freaks who cared more about peace and love and who questioned the status quo or the so-called "normal." It led me to independent thinking ultimately, where no one could tell me anything without me questioning it, and that has served me so well throughout my life, especially now.
The new stereo mixes by Giles Martin under the supervision of Paul & Ringo and the estates of George and John are revelatory. At the time, stereo mixes were an afterthought. The Beatles and George Martin spent weeks in the studio mixing "Sgt. Pepper's" for the mono mix, but the Beatles weren't even present for the one day stereo mix.
These new releases fix all that. As Paul told me, he heard things in the mix that he had forgotten he had done. Any of the 5 new releases are worth the money if you have it for what you will hear.
I also interviewed Roger Waters a few weeks ago for his album, "Is This the Life We Really Want," a sobering and provocative work. Roger has been attacked for his attempt to get major artists not to play Israel. I understand how this is a hot button for Jewish people, but he is not an anti-Semite. At some point, do we just accept that a state of war is the new "normal," or do we try to find SOMETHING that will start this centuries-old conflict on the road to peace? As I pointed out when I was talking about Sgt. Pepper's, I started questioning the status quo when I was 12 and I haven't stopped. There must be a way forward, or we will blow ourselves up soon.
Which leads me to the last point. "Mein Covfefe" comes back from Europe where he tried to bully all of our allies into swallowing bitter pills and that he was the new sheriff in town. They begged him to stay in the Paris Agreement that almost 200 countries have committed to and took many years to negotiate. He comes back, and listens to Satan-tongued Steve Bannon, who believes we are in one of those "periodic" dark cycles where we are doomed, and his EPA pick whose primary mission is to destroy the EPA to pull out of the agreement. He says his reasons are because other countries are telling us what to do and that it is "terrible" for business.
TWO THINGS. LIE. AND LIE.
What countries around the world have pledged is voluntary based on what they believe they can accomplish.
A majority of Fortune 500 companies have said they intend to maintain the standards that the United States has pledged to uphold anyway. So have governors and mayors around the country.
The liar-in-chief is pandering to the base that eeked him out a narrow victory, but what he's really doing is making more money for his greedy self. If you ask yourself, "How can the Trump organization profit?" you will get the answers to most questions as to why this president does something. From tax cuts for the supremely wealthy in our country, to de-regulation of protections for national parks and waters, it is all enabling his company to make more money by building on formerly beautiful national treasures and dumping any waste from chemicals from building and fertilizing into formerly clean water.
It's enough to make your head spin.