Tag Archive | Allman Brothers

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.

Bittersweet me(mories)

It’s taken me a few days to work up to writing about the breakup of REM. Wednesday morning, as I was doing an early morning weights workout, the scroll across the bottom of the screen silently announced the news.

“Oh, NO!”

I startled John, who was engrossed in the news on his computer in the dining room. REM was one of my bucket-list bands. I don’t mean to see before I die – I have a few bands left that, after seeing them, I could conceivably never go to another concert.  (Conceivable? Probably not. But maybe.) Concerts bucket list.

Now I can never see them live. But I’m actually OK with it. It’s not that I’m losing my REM religion – but sometime’s it’s wiser to heed Buddy Holly’s advice than to turn into still-touring relics. Rolling Stones, I love you, but a 50-year tour? That’s getting kind of creepy.

I’ll always have the finest worksong to play for the finest of hours. And REM kept me from chewing my leg off when I needed out of a miserable marriage. And helped me have the courage to go for it.

So I’ll settle for my REM collection and knowing that “Automatic for the People” will always be on my 10-desert-island-albums list. 

I’ll always miss you and be grateful for your assistance through some rough spots in life.   RIP, REM.




Speaking of Top 10s (the desert-island list), how do you choose from a lifetime (a looonnnggg lifetime) of music?

“The Allman Brothers Live at the Fillmore East” is a no-brainer. Has been since I was 16. 

So is Derek and the Dominos’ “Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs.” Goes without saying. 

Automatic for the People.” “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” “Z.Z. Top’s First Album” (they used to kick ass, trust me).

Crap, halfway there with old stuff. And haven’t even addressed Led Zeppelin. OK, “Houses of the Holy.” What the hell. They’re all good. And there’s that confounded bridge that always makes Liz and me smile.

But any Top 10 list of mine would be heavy on Tom Petty – he is my husband in a parallel universe. (It’s OK, it’s OK. John digs him too.) And my baby boy, Ben, used to beg me to play TP. So he’s got to be there. He could be all 10, actually.

But I guess I could settle for “The Waiting,” if I had to, and “The Traveling Wilburys, Vol.1,” but it would almost kill me to choose. 

Please notice I’m being authentic and true and not copping out with greatest hits or boxed sets. You try it – waaayyyy harder.

Then I’d have to add Mumford & Sons “Sigh No More and The Avett Brothers, probably “Live, Vol. 3.

Shit, that’s it! Can I live with it forever? Maybe. Ask me tomorrow. But probably not – there’s no DMB, and when you’ve gotta hear Dave, you’ve gotta hear Dave. Or Willie. Or Leon Russell. Oh, my.

This won’t do! Ten is not enough. No desert islands for me unless I can bring my iPod Touch with unlimited battery power.

Maybe next time I’ll do an all-girls version. Or an all-Beatles. Or an all-post ’90s. Or an all-boxed-sets. You try it. It’s hard.

What IS your Top 10? I dare you.

Whipping post

“You want this. You chose this. You waited for this for years. You’re insane for starting with 12 hours. I’ve been tied (doo, doo, doo, doo, doo), yes, I’ve been tied (doo, doo, doo, doo, doo)) to the whipping post.”

These thoughts compete constantly in my head the past few days as the reality of 12 hours of grad school has set in. Don’t get me wrong. I love it.

It’s TONS of work, but I love it. I don’t have much time to read Newsweek, Mother Jones, O and Rolling Stone, all of which are piling up, (though I still take time to read the daily news), but I love it.

Movie-going has taken a hit (though I will see Contagion this week, come hell or high water), and my pile of pleasure reading will just have to sit for a while. But, seriously, I do love it.

I just was a bit underprepared.

My daughter told me I’d be fine with 12 hours, but that my biggest problem was that I’m a “social person” with lots of commitments. She’s right.

My mother tells me I’ll be fine. “You love to learn and you can do it,” she says. “Just remember to eat and get some sleep.” She’s right. (And aren’t I lucky at 56-in-a-few-days to have a mother around to reassure me of that?)

My Diversity and Oppression professor (LOVE that class) tells us that in grad school we should expect to spend two to three hours outside of class for every hour in class. So, three in-class hours times four classes equals up to  36 hours + the 12ish in class.

Nine hours is full-time. Now I understand why.

Textbook/notebooks are taking over the kitchen.

Oh, and there’s this thing called Blackboard that takes a lot of time, though it is pretty fun. You get to chat up a storm on issues that matter, but you also have to check it constantly for extra assignments.

Blackboard, a huge part of college in the 21st century

College has changed.

But life goes on. Yesterday I took time to have a very fun lunch with a few members of my high school graduating class, and last night Cathy (little sis) and Paul and John and I kept the babygirls during the Razorback game. The girls were angels and we had a ball (I’ll spare you the extreme poopage story that had Cathy and me almost falling down laughing), but I couldn’t have made it without baby sister’s help.

I came home to a pair of bifocals broken into tiny pieces, courtesy of Zuzu, who was letting me know she hadn’t had enough quality time in the past few days. But Cathy and I took the doggygirls on a long walk this morning and they’re properly crashed on the floor now, so I don’t have to feel guilty about all the homework/studying required this afternoon.

Mom, I’m bored. You’re always on that computer.

I made it through my bachelor’s degree – while raising two toddlers – on coffee, chocolate chip cookies, apples and no sleep. This time I hope to do better nutritionally (though a large iced coffee in a Rubber Soul glass is at my elbow as I type, and wine and dirty vodka martinis, shaken, straight-up, are nice coping tools).

As for the sleep, that remains to be seen.

Mainly I hope to stay sane. (Music helps – and my son gave me  Drive-By Trucker’s Greatest Hits last night for my birthday!) Time will tell. And time waits for no one – which means now it’s time for homework.



I woke up thinking about “Dreams” this morning. Partly the amazing Allman Brothers song (which I have blaring from Beginnings right now), but mainly dreams, the kind that occur in my head nightly (and yours too, if you’re lucky). This morning I woke up just after dreaming I’d run into an old friend, Shara, from my years with the NLRSD. Haven’t talked to her in person in years, but her voice was exact in my dreams. It was like she was here.

Dreams can be cool like that.

But they can also be prophetic, soothing, problem-solving, or welcome visits from those departed. Dreams can come true, even waking dreams or daydreams, as did my waking dreams of the West Memphis 3 being freed, though not in the manner I’d have chosen.

Let me just say hallelujah again for that.

But where this is really going is to the nocturnal visits from the deceased which serve to comfort.

My childhood friend Lynette was killed by lightning the day after school let out at the end of the seventh grade. Hers was the first funeral I attended. Sometime in the first year after her death, she came to me in a dream. It was just Lynette, as beautiful as ever, sitting on a wooden stool in solid black surroundings. We talked, as in mainly I asked her questions about what it was like to be dead (she said it was fine, kind of nice).

She came at least once a year, frozen in time, until one year when she didn’t. That was the year my father died, when I was 26. I think she’d been preparing me for that loss. I miss her visits still.

Mother wrote “dreamboat” under Daddy’s picture in her high school yearbook (before they dated). I have that chair (it belonged to my grandparents) and had the marvelous bright green baby-wale corduroy shirt until one of my kids took it to wear as a teen.

Daddy came to me in a very specific dream to tell me it was time to go on with my life. (I can hardly believe I’m sharing this, but maybe it’ll help somebody else.) In my dream, I was caught in a very crowded, crazy parade, packed with people of all sorts, along with circus animals, clowns – you name it and it was probably there. We were marching through Sherwood, where I spent lots of time roaming as an Indian Hills kid. I wasn’t sure what was going on or why I was in this mad group, but I just knew I had to keep marching.

Suddenly we turned a corner, and there on the sideline was my father, in, oddly, a brown suit (he was more a black, charcoal or navy suit guy). I screamed, “Daddy!!” and ran over to him and threw my arms around his neck. We talked and talked and were thrilled to see each other, but after a bit, he began pushing me back toward the parade and said I needed to go on, that I was getting left behind.

“But I want to stay here with you,” I complained. He insisted that I had to go and gave me another nudge. I rejoined the parade but looked back at him where he continued to wave goodbye until we turned another corner and he was out of sight.

If I have to explain what that means, you need to do some research on dream theory. Oh, Daddy. You always looked out for us, didn’t you?

I’ve always had dreams that come true, and after years of horrific nightmares as a child, I learned to do a bit of lucid dreaming, as in being able to change the course of a dream that was going too badly or saying loudly (in my sleep, of course) some version of “you know this is a dream; wake up, wake up now!!”

I really, really dug the movies Inception and Waking Life. If you haven’t seen them, you should.

And now the Allman Brothers have gotten to “Whipping Post,” which lets me know I’m running out of time. School beckons. Gotta fly.