Song 11: The Allman Brothers Band, “Blue Sky” (1972)Posted: January 11, 2013
It’s hard to claim that a world-famous musician can be underrated, but here it goes: Duane Allman was a brilliant guitarist who doesn’t get enough credit. He wasn’t the fastest guitarist in the world, but he didn’t need to be. His solos were songs in themselves, with melodies you could hum after hearing them a few times. “Blue Sky” is my favorite Allman Brothers Band song, off the excellent record Eat A Peach. The album was named after Allman, who died in a motorcycle accident shortly before the record’s release, and who, when asked by a journalist how he was helping the revolution, replied that every time he was in Georgia, he ate a peach for peace.
Allman didn’t mean “peace” in the political, anti-war sense (when the same journalist mentioned revolution, Allman replied, “There’s only evolution”). This song is especially about emotional peace, about finding solace in moments and people. The lengthy solo near the one-minute mark of “Blue Sky” (which gradually integrates Dickey Betts’s equally fluid playing) seems to follow the path of the song’s protagonist, ambling along, meandering thoughts grounded by surroundings. I think it’s a gorgeous piece of work. I didn’t really notice until today that the solo is so damn long: it lasts three minutes over the course of a five-minute song. Yet it breezes by.
The Allman Brothers Band, even when at their fiercest and darkest, always sound so pretty, so weightless. Unlike many bands at the time, they weren’t out to prove they could rock; they seemed like they only wanted to prove to themselves that they could play. The rock was incidental.