Posted by Oteil Burbridge on March 31, 2014 To my friend, Galadrielle Allman
It’s 1am Monday, March 31st and I have just finished reading Galadrielle’s book: Please Be With Me: A Song For My Father, Duane Allman. I was six years old when this band started so naturally, I feel more apart of Galadrielle’s generation of this Allman Brothers family. She feels more like my sister whereas the original partners’ wives feel more like my aunts. Of course the spotlight is always on us musicians in this world and, try as we might, we still end up believing a lot of the bullshit that is so meticulously fabricated to make us into demigods. As a result, we miss a lot of the gifts and talents of others that are right under our nose. Maybe if our noses weren’t quite so high in the air…
All these years I’ve known Galadrielle and I had no idea of her incredible talent. While I have read some of the other books about the ABB, none of them have affected me so profoundly. This book is aptly called, “A Song….”. It is a true blues song to it’s core. It has that power. No Greek, Hebrew, or Shakespearean tale has more truth, brutal honesty, and vulnerable humanity. Every human hope, hurt, triumph, catastrophe, love and loss that life could deal you is found in these pages. And it’s told in an utterly naked, personal style.
Galadrielle has done a dangerous thing too: to tell the naked truth. It affects so many lives. Lives of those still living. I am heartened at hearing the stories of the women who are rarely given a second thought though they made the homes, bore the children, and gave the men in this story a tether to so much of the goodness they sought and drank from. But we have to remember that these gods that we have put so high up on pedestals and spent decades adorning were really just kids. Most men just mature slower than women. Make them rockstars and it will take even longer… if it ever happens at all. Facing these truths alone must have cost her a lot emotionally, spiritually, mentally, even physically. To then summon the courage to tell those truths to the world, knowing that it had to be done artfully, skillfully and with love, is the height of bravery for someone in Galadrielle’s unique position. Few men have been so revered, and for such good reasons. But these men were just men too. Young men. There’s no getting around it.
For me, it is an emotional and spiritual catharsis to absorb this tale. I never owned an Allman Brothers record when I joined this band. I have been one of the biggest outsiders AND insiders that this band has ever seen. (Only Marc Quinones can claim any more extreme position… he had never even heard of the ABB when he got the call!) Seventeen years in the band and I still feel somewhat of a disconnect merely from the age difference. It’s only natural I guess. It’s things like Galadrielle’s book that help me see my place in the big picture of the ABB. And most importantly, it helps me understand these men whom I’ve shared the stage with for almost 2 decades of my adult life.
Here’s to all the women in their lives, from mothers and aunts, to sisters, cousins, wives and daughters, that helped all of us fans hear the music that we have loved so dearly. If you read this story, you will surely realize that the platforms on those pedestals need to be widened to include them. I guarantee you that the music would not have been the same otherwise. The dream was created in the hearts and minds of ALL of those in the family. There is no family without wives and daughters. We would do well to remember it.
The misfortune in Galadrielle’s life was her cross to bear from almost the beginning. She has borne it with grace, truth, and beauty. Thankfully, joy truly is the harvest of struggle. Thank you Galadrielle for giving my struggle more meaning and more clarity. As the band comes to an end for me personally, your gift of this book, and the timing of it’s arrival is what I consider nothing short of mystical. In my opinion, you have written a timeless blues song. I’m sure Duane is so proud of the woman that his little girl has become. I know that all of us down here on earth surely are.