This is a beautiful song by the Allman Brothers. Written by Gregg Allman, it was the first song he had prepared when he joined his brother’s band. At the time, he was out in California trying to make it as a solo artist, after literally shooting himself in the foot to avoid the draft. When Gregg joined the band, everything clicked. They spent night after night refining their sound, usually with the help of mushrooms. They adopted the mushroom into their logo and all had corresponding tattoos. Of course, that was the late 60s, during the free love movement and war protests, when psychedelics were at their height. Music at that time was dominated by bands like The Beatles, The Byrds, The Rolling Stones . While there was a blues influence to some bands of the day, the Allman brothers took this genre and put it at the forefront of there music. Along with Gregg’s soulful vocals, his brother Duane was a master of the slide guitar. Duane had made a name for himself by playing with Wilson Pickett and Otis Redding, but they needed to create their own sound. The two complimented each other very well along with Dickey Betts on guitar; then the rhythm section of dual drums and bass provided the thriving backbone. They were just making a real name for themselves, after the Fillmore East recordings became a thing of legend. Tragically, Duane died of a motorcycle crash shortly afterwards, and their bassist died the same way a year later. Through all this, The Allman Brothers powered on and made music as a band until Gregg’s death last year. As a band they made an undeniable mark on music and influenced countless people, including me.
At the time I discovered them, I was coming out of a heavy metal phase and looking to find myself a little better. While I embraced the emotion of heavy metal, I didn’t always feel like I connected as well as I should. My father and I had been talking about music and some of his influences growing up. He had mentioned them, although they weren’t one of his favorites. I think I was excited that they had two drummers and wanted to see what that sounded like. So we went out to the store, and I picked up a few CDs. I got Live at the Fillmore East and was immediately enthralled. Gregg’s voice boomed through the speakers, full of hurt and despair, with the guitars accenting different phrases along the way. They built their songs to crescendos, the emotions just pouring out so much it was impossible not to feel. Dreams is a slow emotional journey, a simple chord structure played on Gregg’s organ with blistering slide guitars on top. The lyrics talk about getting away to solve your problems with a little solitude, fearful that your problems may overcome you and prevent you from reaching new heights in life. As the chorus goes:
‘Cause I’ve a hunger for the dreams I’ll never see, yeah, baby.
Ah, help me baby, or, or this will surely be the end of me, yeah.
I really connected with this; how all of your pain and anguish can be expressed into music but without rage. At the time, I was having trouble coming to terms with CF. I wasn’t sure who to talk to about anything, since almost no one I knew had any inkling of what I dealt with. Being a teenager was hard enough, without the added strain of a chronic illness. I was angry and confused, insecure about all the daily intricacies that come with the territory. It caused me to be more of an introvert, which I still am today. I have a hard time expressing my emotions, doubts, or fears. Sometimes I need solitude in order to come to terms with these feelings and cope. It’s as true today as it was back then.
It’s easy to let CF overpower you; it can be overwhelming. Figuring out how to deal with this illness while trying to figure out who you are as a person is a real challenge. Everyone needs a creative outlet of some kind, whether it’s art, theater, music, or something else. Music was always that for me, and the blues created a whole new path to coping with my illness. To this day, I will blast the blues in my car when I’m having a bad day. I will sing along to my favorites, like Buddy Guy, Freddie King, Eric Clapton, and Stevie Ray Vaughn. I connect with them on a visceral level, even though our experiences are totally different. The emotions feel the same, and relate to my life and struggles. This musical companion of sorts is with me whenever I need, like a comfortable blanket. And I have the Allman Brothers and my father to thank for that.