Books of 2017, #10: One Way Out: The Inside History of the Allman Brothers Band, by Alan Paul

I was born in the South, and I have lived most of my life in the South, but I moved around as a kid, and lived other places besides, so I think it’s fair to say that I’m not really “of the South”.

I suspect one of the better arguments bolstering this assertion is that I never listened to the Allman Brothers Band until I was in college. And while they’re still not a band I listen to on a daily or even weekly basis, I own their core albums, and know most of the material pretty well…even if I first knew “Whipping Post” as a Frank Zappa performance.

Anyway, I feel kind of fortunate that all the “oral histories” I’ve read over the years have generally been pretty good—and this is no different; it’s well edited, so that there’s a sense of narrative, rather than things just rambling all over the landscape, it attempts, when possible, to get all sides of the story.

I think what I take away from this on is that the band may never have really recovered from Duane’s death. I mean, yes, they produced Brothers and Sisters, but against the backdrop of the rest of their career, that seems like a heart continuing to beat for a while after brain death.

Without someone to lead them who afforded everyone a chance to also be themselves, they never quite found the true vision of what they wanted again. They let themselves become distracted, and even when they brought in capable new people…it was never quite the same.

All that said, obviously I wasn’t ever in a position to see them with Duane; in fact I never saw them at all. In retrospect, though, I suspect I would have enjoyed seeing one of the shows they put on this century; it seemed like—even though it apparently required throwing one of the original members out of the band—that they found their way back to some of the sympatico that marked their early work.