We’re back with another episode of the site wide favorite Truck Driver Songs. Here, we look back to the classic cuts of amazing musical artistry that sing the praises of the North American truck driver and all they do for their family and yours. This week, it’s one of the dual guitar battle hymns of the old South released in 1973.
The Allman Brothers Band are considered the main pioneers of the Southern Rock Movement, alongside such longstanding legends as Lynyrd Skynyrd, ZZ Top, Edgar Winter, and Blackfoot, among others. Their style includes basic blues chording, but they also have the talent and flair for key changes that recall jazz as well as country standards from the 50s and 60s.
Dickey Betts is the lead guitarist of the band, and is considered by many in the industry to be one of the finest rock guitarists alive. Alongside Duane Allman, he had early on in his career one of rock’s finest guitar partnerships as they introduced melodic twin guitar harmonies and counterpoints which “rewrote the rules for how two rock guitarists can work together, completely scrapping the traditional rhythm/lead roles to stand toe to toe.” However, like many stories of gifted artists, Duane’s story came to a shocking halt in 1971 after his motorcycle collided with a flatbed pickup truck in Macon, Georgia.
The band achieved its artistic and commercial breakthrough in 1971 with the release of At Fillmore East, featuring extended renderings of their songs “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” and “Whipping Post” and often considered one of the best live albums ever made. But their peak AOR success came with the album “Brothers and Sisters” that produced the hit we feature today.
The song “Ramblin’ Man” was based on a tune of the same name by Hank Williams and became one of the most recognizable southern rock anthems in history. However, Allman Brothers Band only began playing it live after the single made it into some movie soundtracks and earned public affection. Betts says that due to its strict time changes and deliberate phrasing, the song was difficult to improvise around, which is a main feature of their performances.
But, the band relented to fan requests and made “Ramblin’ Man” a centerpiece of their sets, as you can see here in this live version from the TV show Austin City Limits during the 1996 season. This lineup included another southern rock guitar virtuoso, Warren Haynes going toe to toe with Betts. Enjoy, truck drivers!
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