The needle tapped into The Allman Brothers’ Eat A Peach, and the first thing I did was bow my head in commemoration of vinyl on a turntable. There’s something to be said for honoring our roots. Before moving ahead, maybe it’s best to quickly glance behind, and see the foundations already set. I smiled to myself, because it felt good to be part of something larger. Somewhere through the static, a gripping force swung into motion, running at a full sprint into my ears, into the core of me, and into the background of my being. The familiar sound of the driven piano bass line topped with the upbeat swag riff of an electric guitar. It’s the type of sound that guides a person’s hand instinctively to the volume. Classic rock has that power of being loud in spirit and style, so the volume crank is almost understood amongst its listeners. This is a power that has not diminished through time, but its chance to prove itself has become increasingly lost in the wake of new generations.
As I sat there, listening to Gregg Allman’s voice gliding over the track in its smooth old radio sound, I felt the drawled singing coming from deep inside him, where big sounds have more space to form. I could feel him mourning the death of his brother Duane. I could see him trying to deal with the pain in the only way he knew how. I saw him truly lost, and hopeful, and desperate for change in himself and others. He was full of bright plans and confident aspirations, to live for another that no longer had the opportunity. I sat there, taking it all in, feeling as if I were somewhere else besides the safety of the small storage closet. I was somewhere inside my mind, where I am not nearly as safe as inside the locked doors of a closet, turning over ideas like peach pancakes. I tried to think about songs, all the songs in the world. The thought spun around me, as if too large to completely fit inside the small area between my ears. I thought about one song, and how that one song was the result of a change taking on a new form of art. Then that song was let free, unhindered to change another person, which was all it needed to change that person’s brother, and to change the world.
Of course, I am not one to say that radio glitz has not changed the world. The pop infused music of today’s youth must be doing something right, to reach the success that it has. However, I believe that the catchy melody, the solid beat, and mid-song breakdown have all been done before.
What makes this style of rock so unique is that it can emotionally connect to anyone, no matter their background. This music is the sound of finding common ground. It does not discriminate by age or gender, and it does not target by race or lifestyle. The music is heard like a novel, telling the story of an America I was never around to see. It takes me to that time, closer than any textbook could. Every song has a message to contribute to this American novel. The story is told on the cover of Sticky Fingers, right in the working zipper. It’s in George Harrison’s breakthrough as a songwriter on Revolver. It’s in Gregg Allman, sliding from fret one to fret nine just because he can.
I, as a sixteen year old white suburban girl, can feel humbled by The Allman Brothers Band just as easily as your father could. And because the style was original, because the approach was raw, because America listened, laughing and crying along the way, I believe in the solid foundation that is classic rock.
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