Thursday, June 1, 2017

5ive From: '84 Topps Traded / Allman Brothers

I used to feature far more music in my posts, but it hasn't played as prominent a role on the blog in the last two or three years.  It (music) has always been a big part of my life, along with sports and collecting cards, so it just seemed natural to feature lyrics, videos and/or references in my posts. One way I'd like to get back into the habit of featuring artists and their music is through a new series called Five From, where- you guessed it- I'll look at five cards from a set or of a particular player along with 5 songs from an album or of an artist. 

Starting off this new series will be 5 songs from the Allman Brothers Band, whose co-founder and singer, Gregg Allman passed away recently from complications of liver cancer. The legendary Allman was 69.  

"You're my blue sky, you're my sunny day. Lord, you know it makes me high when you turn your love my way."  Blue Sky, from 1972's Eat a Peach

It's funny that my two favorite Allman Brothers songs were neither penned, nor sung, by an Allman. I'll get to my favorite ABB song shortly, but in the meantime, I'll start off with my second favorite song: Blue Sky. 

Written and sung by Dickey Betts, Blue Sky was about Bett's then-girlfriend (and future wife) Sandy "Bluesky" Wabegijig, and features a much more country-influenced sound than anything the band had previously done. The song also is one of the final recordings of Duane Allman, who died in a motorcycle accident in October of 1971, during tracking for the band's classic Eat A Peach album. Thankfully Skydog, as Duane was known as, was able to lay down his guitar tracks on the song, which featured solos by both guitarists as well as one of the most beautiful harmonized solos you'll ever hear.

Speaking of second favorites... I've mentioned on a previous post about my favorite Mariners player as a child being Julio Cruz; I don't recall if I've mentioned Ruppert Jones being my second favorite. Well, now you know. I had forgotten he was with Detroit. 

"You don't need no gyspy to tell you why; ya can't let one precious day to slip by. Well, look inside yourself, and if you don't see what you want, maybe sometimes then you don't. But leave your mind alone and just get high." Ain't Wastin' Time No More, from Eat a Peach

One of the greatest moments on Eat a Peach, in my opinion, is the band's performance on Ain't Wastin' Time No More. Lyrically, Gregg Allman comes to grip with his brother's death, finding the strength move forward and to not "let one precious day slip by." Musically, the songs starts out with a rolling piano riff before Dickey Betts comes in with a slide guitar that channels the band's fallen leader. Bett's performance on the song is pure brilliance- and is something that I would have found totally unexpected, should I have been older at the time and aware of the situation.

Willie Hernandez' 1984 campaign was the greatest moment of his career, becoming just the third pitcher to ever win the Cy Young Award, MVP and World Series all in the same season. Acquired from the Phillies towards the end of the 1984 spring training, Willie started out the season sharing duties at the back end of the pen with righty closer Aurelio Lopez (who dominated righties, but struggled against lefties). He would gain control of the closer's role early in June and would not look back. Over the course of the season, Hernandez pitched 140 innings over 80 games (68 of which he finished) while compiling a 9-3 record with 35 saves in 36 opportunities. While the save total may not sound that impressive, keep in mind these were different times: the lefty pitched more than one-inning in 66% of his save opportunities, as well as 2+ innings in 18 appearances. Firemen also pitched in many non-save situations back then, and Willie was no different. One such appearance netted him four innings. Proving his value, the Tiger's closer finished the game in the AL East clincher and then threw the final pitches of both the ALCS and the World Series. 

 "I think back to what my daddy said, He said, 'boy, in the darkness before the dawn: let your soul shine, it's better than sunshine, better than moonshine, damn sure better than rain." Soulshine, from Back Where it All Began

Change can be hard for some folks. Life throws a curveball- job loss, divorce, an unexpected death. It's not a question of will something happen, forcing us to accept change, but how are we going to deal with it and move on. Soulshine, my favorite Allman Brothers tune- and one of my all-time favorite songs, period, was the result of change. 

Following the death of guitarist and band leader Duane Allman, the Brothers continued with Dickey Betts as the lone guitarist until their breakup in 1976. The band would reunite in 1978 and bring aboard guitarist Dan Toler, who had played with the Dickey Betts band. A subsequent breakup and then second reunion brought DB band member, guitarist Warren Haynes, into the fold- and it was Haynes who penned my favorite tune, Soulshine. 

As far as Gossage, you might remember some of his controversial remarks in recent years about the evolution of the game. Gossage, of course, is an old-school player and has ranted about everything from players flipping their bats and celebrating, to the use of advanced metrics and everything else that is done in a way that differed from his generation. Brian Cashman helped set the record straight, however, by reminding Goose that players at one time did not wear helmets. Cashman and manager Joe Girardi apparently sat down with the hall of fame reliever multiple times to discuss his diatribes; after not getting through Cashman eventually said he wouldn't "waste [his] time" sitting down with Gossage.          

"Sometimes I feel, sometimes I feel, like I been tied to the whippin' post. Tied to the whippin' post, tied to the whippin' post. Good Lord, I feel like I'm dyin'."- Whipping Post (from 1969's The Allman Brothers Band album.)


I really don't know how to take a card of Tom Terrific and a song that many rock critics consider the Allman's greatest musical achievement (Whipping Post) and tie them together. Perhaps it's best to just acknowledge the genius of both. 

"Cause I have a hunger for dreams I'll never see"-  Dreams (from The Allman Brothers Band, 1969)

In Allman's autobiography, My Cross to Bear, the singer states, "If I fell over dead right now, I have led some kind of life." Having read the book, I can attest to what he says (should his accounts be truthful, which, they probably are); but still I wonder: is there something that he didn't live to see- a dream he hungered for, but never saw realized? Its been a few years since I read My Cross to Bear and I don't remember anything specificically being mentioned, but surely there was a longing for something he had not attained.  One thing Allman did live to see was his and the band's 1995 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. As deserving as Pete Rose might be- as a player- we all know that he won't live to see the day he's inducted.

RIP, to a legend, Gregg Allman. Your contributions to the world of music has made this world a better place. Thank you for using your God-given gifts to enrichin my love of music.

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