Songs That Made Me Cry #1October 18, 2007 | 2 Comments
The Allman Brothers
My boyfriend and I were lying on the floor listening to music, smoking pot, waiting for the pizza delivery guy. I think I was about 18 years old. He wanted me to listen to “Blue Skies” by the Allman Brothers. Sure, I thought. Whatever. I like music. He cued it up and when it was over I said, “yeah, that’s pretty good.” I mean it was fine, good sounds, nothing wrong. Plus I was stoned and had a cute boyfriend, so what’s not to like. “No,” he said. “Listen again. Amazing guitar solo.” I didn’t really know what a guitar solo was, but assumed it meant some guitars would start to play louder than the other instruments at some point. So I listened. When it came to the part he wanted me to hear, he poked my shoulder and pointed to the stereo.
I can’t really describe what happened next. Suddenly it was like I had never hard music before. I heard that the song was made up of dancing, spinning parts. I listened for the drums to see if my ears could track their line and then I picked the bass out of the mix. There were two guitars playing and soon I could tell the difference between them—this one was a little sweet, that one a bit fuzzy. I found that I could zoom back and forth between listening to each instrument or the whole song, but I couldn’t do both at once. They call this dependent arising in Buddhism, meaning everything exists only in relation to something else—there is nothing on this earth with a separate identity.
The guitar solo came to the foreground and it was so unforced, it was like dangling your hand in the water while someone else rows, soft, smooth, effortless. Then the second guitar soloed, ending with a cascade of perfectly picked single notes in a repeating pattern and then—at 3:57 exactly—the first guitar came out of nowhere and mimicked the line exactly. With no effort whatsoever they found each other and played in tandem, one sweet and the other fuzzy, totally separate and completely joined. This is what had always been happening, I just never heard it before. I burst into tears.
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