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Once again, I don’t feel much like writing, but I am going to do it anyway. I wonder how many of these things will start this same way. Dear reader, thank you for your patience with me and my frequently poor attitude. I’m working on it.

Gregg Allman died today. He was 69 and had been undergoing treatment for liver cancer off and an for some years, according to his family. Reading about his death gave me a reason to listen to Eat A Peach (The Deluxe Album Version), arguably my favorite Allman Brothers album, although I can’t claim to know their other records all that well to compare.

(You are tired and you aren’t writing real sentences. Come on. Get it together.)

Listening to “Midnight Rider” immediately called up a tiny snapshot of memory, of being 16 or 17, driving the 1983 Oldsmobile Cutlass Sierra my grandmother had passed down to me and listening to that song on a mixed tape my friend Ginny had made for me. It was summer and I was on Northside Drive, passing West Paces Ferry on my way home to my parents’ condo at Cross Creek.

Well, I’ve got to run to keep from hiding
And I’m bound to keep on riding
And I’ve got one more silver dollar
But I’m not gonna let them catch me, no
Not gonna let ’em catch the midnight rider

And I don’t own the clothes I’m wearing
And the road goes on forever
And I’ve got one more silver dollar
But I’m not gonna let them catch me, no
Not gonna let ’em catch the midnight rider

The last few years of high school were pretty miserable for me. I was experiencing what would later be diagnosed as symptoms of Bipolar Disorder I, with psychotic episodes mixed in for an extra dose of bewilderment. My dad was also facing a complicated and ultimately heartbreaking situation at his job (Founding Headmaster of my small, private high school) which sent shock-waves rippling through our whole family.

Surviving the Summer in GA

This is a picture of a road where I live. “The road goes on forever”, get it?

I’d always been the type of kid who loved the idea of driving away from everything. Having my driver’s license and a gas-guzzling, felt-upholstered car of my own gave me my first real taste that of romanticized kind of freedom. Even if it was only getting home from a friend’s house, driving through Atlanta in the summer, when the city’s abundance of trees makes even the restaurants and office buildings seem wild and overgrown, made me feel both invisible and alive. Some nights, if the weather was especially fine and my brain was humming with that intense mixture of low-level mania and teenage angst, I would skip the turn towards home and just keep driving. I’d drive all the way down to Centennial Park, or sometimes over to Ponce or Virginia Highlands, then find Peachtree and take it all way back to Peachtree Battle or West Wesley, keeping my windows open to hear stolen seconds of booming base from the cars of bar-hopping grownups whose lives seemed impossibly glamorous and far away from my own.

And I’ve gone by the point of caring
Some old bed I’ll soon be sharing
And I’ve got one more silver dollar

But I’m not gonna let ’em catch me, no
Not gonna let them catch the midnight rider

It seems kind of overwrought now, which I guess is what being a teenager means, for the most part. Among the wealthy children of Atlanta’s business leaders, I knew way too many trust fund kids whose teenage rebellion consisted of wearing an “Eat A Peach” t-shirt under their school uniform polo and getting fake ID’s to buy beer at concerts. It just wasn’t my thing at that age and I stayed away from most southern rock because of it.

Despite all that, I do love the Allman Brothers. If you have any doubts, find a stretch of open road on a summer night anywhere in the south, turn up “Midnight Rider” and roll your windows down and push the gas pedal. It really is a great song.

ringer tshirt of Allman Brothers with Eat A Peach album art

Ok team. We did it. Another day down. High fives all around.