Wednesday, December 10, 2014

DB's Song of the Day (day 344): "AIN'T WASTIN' TIME NO MORE" (1972) The Allman Brothers Band

Back on the 8th was the birthday of Gregg Allman. I’ve already posted a song in honor of his late brother Duane, and today’s song, which appears on the Allman Brothers Band’s Eat a Peach, was recording after Duane’s death. In fact, in the wake of that loss, it feels like a very urgent message to get on with things and not let life go to waste. “With the help of God and true friends, I’ve come to realize / I still have two strong legs, and even wings to fly.”  That which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, idn’t it? And of course there were a number of famous deaths around that time to give the song more force: Hendrix, Joplin, Morrison  . . .

The song has always been one of my favorites by the ABB, in part due to Gregg’s piano and Dicky Betts’ slide guitar, but mainly because it’s got the best lyrics of any tune Gregg wrote and it has a great, bluesy, charged up vocal as well.

I first became enamored of the song around 1977 when I heard quite a bit of the Allmans, and then in 1979 I put it on a tape because I wanted the reminder of all that urgency: “Time goes by like pourin’ rain, and much faster things.” A death close to me had opened up a feeling of time being short and life utterly precarious that this song evokes quite notably. “You don’t need no gypsy to tell you why / Ya can’t let one precious day to slip by.”

And, yeah, it was easy for me to get behind such urgency in my twenties. I wanted to get on with it. Didn’t even want to waste my time going to college, sitting in classes. It was all about trying to get on a fast train that would speed along to something more worthwhile, whatever that might be. “Look outside yourself, and if you don’t see what you want / Maybe sometimes then ya don’t / But leave your mind alone—and just get high.” As Rimbaud might say, “Ha, I’ve taken too much of that!” So that’s where a lot of time got wasted: getting wasted. And then not.

Well, by and by, way after many years have gone
And all the war freaks die off, leaving us alone
We’ll raise our children in peace the way we can
It’s up to you and me, brother, to try and try again

Many years have gone, alright, since I was into this song (though I admit I’ve started listening to the Allmans a bit recently with the Mobile Fidelity release of their first album), and, though the war freaks haven’t noticeably declined, I can say that I put in my time to “raise children the way we can”—not that that’s wasting time, but it sure does take up time—but maybe it’s time to “try again” with some other means of “wasting time,” since, unlike Gregg, I don’t know what activity isn’t a waste of time.

Or maybe it’s better to see it as “killing time.” “Waste” sounds like it had some potential to be something but you squandered it. And, sure, I do feel that way about the times I’ve lived through, often enough. It’s just that I don’t know, even if I had gold records or writing awards, if I’d feel that I’d done anything more than “kill time”—which means filling the hours with activities that wear them down.

Which brings us back to the verse spoken to Miss Sally who seems to be standing around crying about nothing to do. “Go step yourself outside, look up at the stars above / Go on downtown, baby, and find somebody to love / Meanwhile I ain’t wastin’ time no more.” The point seems to be that she can go contemplate nature—those ever-inspiring stars—or go find a lover, or maybe just someone to love (could even be a pet, I guess) but meanwhile . . .  That little word said a lot to me, back then. Like, once we’ve had enough with contemplating what is and after we’ve experienced the great odyssey to, with, and for someone else, or wasting time trying to get with someone else, we might come back to something else to turn our time to. I mean, some people really are a waste of time. Get on with what you gotta do. Don't mean to be brusque, but I almost chose for today Gregg's “It's Not My Cross to Bear” from the first ABB album because that's a line I say sometimes, and, to alter my man Scrooge, it's enough for a man to know his own particular cross to bear without worrying about someone else's.

So hear us now, we ain’t wastin’ time no more / ’Cause time rolls by like hurricanes / Runnin’ after subway trains / And don’t forget the pourin’ rain—and the way he pours it on for “pour-re-rorin” let’s us know it’s really pouring (like it did yesterday), enough to fill up that dish outside the window, if you know what I mean . . .


Timothy Gilfillan said...

The cover of Eat a Peach gets my vote for the best album cover from those crazy hazy 70's. A beauty. And yeah, don't worry about wearing those hours down with your activities. They'll have none of it. Meanwhile, here's to something else.....

Donald Brown said...

Really? Well there it is. Duane said he always eats a peach for peace, and I guess the cover makes that one helluva peach. And your comment reminds me of Vladimir and Estragon in Godot: "It passes the time." "It would've passed anyway." Sure 'nuff.