Stand back

Sometimes you just have to stand back and look at where you’ve come from to figure out how you got to where you are – and maybe to figure out where you go next. That started running through my head as I read Gregg Allman’s recently released autobiography, My Cross to Bear.  

Liz got it for me for Mother’s Day, and it was totally addicting, if a bit disconcerting to learn that someone who’s played such a huge part of your life is, well, as my friend and fellow Allman Brothers-lover Julia puts it, “a bit dim.”

Maybe he’s substance-addled, though he’s been straight for years now. I really think it’s just that despite fame and fortune (and plenty of misfortune), he’s just a good ole redneck Southern boy.

Whatever – the Brothers are the soundtrack of my youth, at least Live at the Fillmore East and Eat a Peach  and Gregg’s first solo album, Laid Back.  I never had much use for Dickie Betts, who became way too influential after Duane Allman died, though he did write my beloved In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” — which is my daughter-in-law Elizabeth’s ringtone on my phone.

(Allman cuts Betts no slack in the book, but he does explain why such a misfit – in my humble opinion – was an integral part of the band. According to GA, the only way to get Berry Oakley on bass, which to Duane was imperative, was to take Dickie Betts, too, since it meant breaking up their band.)

Liz’s ringtone is Layla, which is what as a teen I planned to name my daughter. Her dad soundly vetoed that, but every time I hear Duane Allman’s amazing opening from my phone, I know it’s my daughter calling. (Yes, Eric Clapton wrote Layla and it’s his song, but Duane Allman made it what it is – unforgettable.)

I’ve gotten some strange looks in stores when I forget to silence my phone, but I’ve also gotten some positive comments and knowing nods.

Julia’s ringtone is the opening bars of Whipping Post, another of my AB faves. I love. love, love my iPhone, but I won’t bore you with my ringtone set list. (Tom Petty’s Breakdown is my default ring. Sorry, I’ll stop there.)

Back to the subject here, which is what you get when you cross an elephant and a rhino: Hell-if-I-know. It’s multifaceted, I guess. A. Life’s influences (mostly music and books in my case). B. Twists and turns, coincidences and synchronicity – here I am in a crazy restoration project house a few blocks over from where my parents lived when I was born, making organic yogurt in my Great-Aunt Opal’s antique heavy pressure cooker pot. I’m a totally southern girl married to a well-traveled man from Washington state, who’s family, as it turns out, was actually from Minden, La., where the Hardy House still stands.

C. Figuring out what you want to be when you grown up. Grandchild 4 is on the way and I’m still not sure. I have so many interests and so little time.

We’ve been marathon-watching seasons of Madmen like, you guessed it; we’re finally caught up for this week’s episode. The point isn’t that we’re lunatics, though some would heartily agree with that assessment. The point is that watching the show makes me think maybe I was right when as a little girl watching Bewitched, I thought Darrin Stevens and Larry Tate had the coolest jobs in the world and that I’d like to go into advertising when I grew up.

I think I’d have loved it and might been good at it.

Ah, well.

My desire to be a back-up singer for Leon Russell or a female Pip was cut short by my absolute lack of vocal talent. But music is in my blood, heart and soul. I’m named after a song. I was nicknamed after a song. My dad was a damned good professional musician for a while, and I wasn’t bad on the piano as a kid. Few things make me happier than good music.

Might have missed a boat there. But I did marry a guy who used to live on a boat and traveling through life with him is a pretty fun ride.

I do know that at this point if someone came to me and said “Laura, my dear, I want to fund you while you pursue your dream career,” why, I’d just up and become a documentarian. A documentarian grandma who travels the world while listening to great music and creating fabulous advertisements for her movies.

And is a regular guest on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

Hey, a granny can dream.


This is not at all where this blog post was supposed to go, but this is where it went. And there’s only one way out at this point, because evidently it could go on and on. I’ll just stop.

The end.

2 thoughts on “Stand back

  1. Good writing; good reading. Our music tastes differ, but you do a good job of selling your “likes.”. My favs are The Everly Brothers. Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, John Denver, and The Eagles. Music was a big part of my family. My dad played the guitar, and Bill Monroe was his fav. I have an aunt who sang with her husband’s country/western band in eastern Arkansas, and my 4 brothers all play the guitar. Two of them play banjo, and one builds guitars. The neatest thing about music to me is its ability to take you back in time. I can hear a tune from any part of my life and go back to that moment for a short while.

    • Thanks. And I so know what you mean a friend and I were just talking last night about how smells and sounds/music can take you back in time faster and stronger than anything. I can hear certain songs that immediately bring tears to my eyes or joy to my heart. Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold” makes me 16 again on the first note. And if I hear someone say “OK” in a certain tone of voice, my mind mentally finishes: “the Allman Brothers band!” (That’s how they’re introduced on the Fillmore album “OK, the Allman Brothers band …”

      Speaking of the Everly Bros., Mother used to wake me up in the mornings by singing “Wake Up, LIttle Susie.” CSN&Y were my Tom Bennewise years. And I love the earliest Eagles.

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