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When The Allman Brothers Band was first formed in Jacksonville, Florida, with brothers Duane and Gregg Allman at the helm, it didn’t take long for the world to discover that a new southern rock sound was taking over the music scene. Their signature live performances and guitar solos have made them as influential as similar bands such as Lynyrd Skynyrd and Led Zeppelin and worthy of many honors, including an into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995.
Releasing a slew of albums from Win, Lose or Draw (1975) to Seven Turns (1990) to Hittin’ the Note (2003) and so many in between throughout their multi-decade career, it’s no wonder that they have been the originators of so many classic hit songs over the years. How could anyone possibly narrow it down? Well, we did.
Here’s our list of the 17 best Allman Brothers Band songs.
“Revival (Love Is Everywhere)” may not have been a major hit on the charts, but it has been a hit in our hearts ever since it was released in 1970 and is one of our top Allman Brothers Band songs.
The first songwriting credit for guitarist Dickey Betts, the lyrics for the song were actually a last-minute add-on, as it was initially meant to be an instrumental piece.
Betts later said of his process, “You have to have an altogether different approach; an instrumental has to be real catchy, and when you succeed, it’s very satisfying because you have transcended words and communicated with emotion.”
16. “Statesboro Blues”
“Statesboro Blues” may not have been an original song by The Allman Brothers Band, but theirs’ is the version received the number nine spot on Rolling Stone’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time.”
Debuting their version for their 1971 album recorded live at the Fillmore, Rolling Stone described Duane Allman’s slide guitar contribution as having “the moaning and squealing opening licks [that] have given fans chills at a live show.”
The original is a blues classic by one of the greats, Blind Willie McTell.
15. “No One to Run With”
The Allman Brothers Band brought “No One to Run With” to life, recording it more than 10 years after Dickey Betts tried launching the song with his former musical group, Betts, Hall, Leavell, and Trucks, in 1983.
The beloved band brought the song to the seventh spot on the mainstream rock chart. They even led it into the movies, as it was featured on the soundtrack for The Cowboy Way in 1994 and even more recently was heard on an episode of the animated series King of the Hill.
It’s clear that it will always be one of The Allman Brothers Band’s most popular songs.
“Soulshine” is one of the few titles on our list of the best Allman Brothers Band songs that was not penned by one of its members nor initially recorded by the band.
Although written by Warren Haynes and initially recorded by Larry McCray, the Allman Brothers were the ones who made the song what it is today making it a top Allman Brothers Band song in our books. Recorded for their Where It All Begins album, it has become known as one of their best-known songs despite never being released as a single.
While the song has been covered by others over the years, including Beth Hart and David Allan Coe, this 1994 version will always be the best.
13. “Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More”
“Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More” is one of the most heartbreaking of all the Allman Brothers Band songs, but it’s also one of the most special as we hear the band pay its tributes to a member lost – Duane Allman.
Gregg Allman said of writing the song that it “was the only thing I knew how to do right then” in the wake of his brother’s death.
Related: 18 Best Sibling Bands
12. “Mountain Jam”
Sometimes all you need is an instrument or two to tell a story, no lyrics required. Such was the case for “Mountain Jam,” recorded for the band’s Eat a Peach album.
An improvisation based on “There is a Mountain” by Donovan, it was originally developed during a jam session of the Donovan song between Duane Allman, Peter Green of Fleetwood Mac, and Jerry Garcia of the original jam band Grateful Dead.
What we love most about this piece, however, is that we get a true highlight of every single one of the talented members of The Allman Brothers Band as they each have a featured solo on the more than 33-minute track.
Related: The Grateful Dead’s Net Worth
Sometimes known as “Sweet Melissa,” this song took a long time to see the light of day, but it was sure worth the wait. Gregg Allman penned the song years before its release and even before The Allman Brothers Band was formed.
Reportedly, the idea for the song’s name came while Allman was buying milk at a grocery store. Having almost decided to call the song “Delilah,” he heard a woman say, ‘No, wait, Melissa. Come back. Don’t run away, Melissa.”
“I could’ve gone over there and kissed that woman,” Allman said of the moment.
10. “It’s Not My Cross to Bear”
The Allman Brothers Band may have been primarily rock, but they knew how to bring the blues into their sound occasionally, too, just like they did with “It’s Not My Cross to Bear.”
Released as part of their debut album, Gregg Allman wrote it about one of his former lovers, and was one of the first songs he ever introduced the group to. He later revived the song for his 1986 solo record, I’m No Angel.
“Jessica,” recorded for The Allman Brothers Band’s Brothers and Sisters album, was yet another song that proved the power of instruments on its own.
Written by Dickey Betts and named after his, at the time, infant daughter, it’s clear the instrumental track was meant to capture his daughter’s sweet melody. Picturing her bouncing along to the song’s rhythm just makes us smile, no matter if it didn’t see significant chart success.
“Jessica” will always be one of the best Allman Brothers Band songs.
8. “Little Martha”
If there’s one thing we love most about “Little Martha,” it’s the way it reminds us of the band’s group leader and co-namesake Duane Allman.
Allman reportedly got the idea for the song in a dream where he was shown the song’s melody by guitar legend Jimi Hendrix on a sink faucet in a Holiday Inn.
Keeping it in mind, he later recorded the song for the Eat a Peach album, with only Dickey Betts joining him on the final version of the song after bassist Berry Oakley’s part was cut.
Leo Kottke, who was the first to cover “Little Martha,” called it “the most perfect guitar song ever written.”
The only song that Allman ever wrote entirely on his own, it was also one of his last recordings. He died only a few weeks later in a motorcycle crash on Oct. 29, 1972.
Related: How Did Jimi Hendrix Die?
7. “Black Hearted Woman”
“Black Hearted Woman” may not have been a single off The Allman Brothers Band’s debut album, but it’s definitely one that we still put on repeat from time to time.
Written by Gregg Allman, the song’s catchy opening immediately makes us want to start bobbing our heads, and we can’t get enough of the seemingly angry lyrics as the narrator calls out his heartless ex.
Talk about an Allman Brothers Band most popular song for the ages.
6. “Midnight Rider”
“Midnight Rider” was one of The Allman Brothers Band’s singles released in the early days of their career, but it became more of a hit when Gregg Allman released his solo version of the song in 1973. That version led to it finally hitting the charts.
Further life has been given to the song over the years by such artists as country living legend Willie Nelson (who recorded it twice, once with Toby Keith) and Jamaican singer Paul Davidson. In doing so, it’s only made us remember to revisit the original version by our favorite band of the 70s because those other versions wouldn’t exist without theirs.
Related: Willie Nelson’s Net Worth
5. “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed”
“In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” first debuted in 1970 as part of The Allman Brothers Band’s Idlewild South studio album.
Bringing in the band’s classic instrumental rock while bringing in an influence of jazz, the Rolling Stone Album Guide called it “the blueprint of a concert warhorse, capturing the Allmans at their most adventurous.”
Perhaps that’s why live performances of the song could last upwards of 30 minutes or more, and led to the At Fillmore East performance of the song being known as one of the most transcendent of all time.
The title track of their four-disc compilation album released in 1989 and later rereleased for their 1991 A Decade of Hits 1969-1979 album, “Dreams,” is obviously one of those Allman Brothers Band songs that we can listen to over and over again.
With the extended instrumental solos highlighted by the honest lyrics, it’s become a classic we’ll always love.
3. “Blue Sky”
“Blue Sky” may have been written about Dickey Betts’ then girlfriend and later wife, Sandy “Bluesky” Wabegijg, but the song was specifically made for anyone and everyone who needed to hear it.
“Once I got into the song, I realized how nice it would be to keep the vernaculars, he and she, out and make it like you’re thinking of the spirit like I was giving thanks for a beautiful day,” Betts said of the song. “I think that made it broader and more relatable to anyone and everyone.”
We couldn’t agree more. Add that to the fact that it was Betts’ debut vocal with the band, after encouragement from Gregg Allman, and we had no choice but to include it on our best Allman Brothers Band songs list.
2. “Whipping Post”
If you were fortunate enough to hear The Allman Brothers Band songs live, odds are “Whipping Post,” originally recorded for their 1969 self-titled debut album, was a standout of the night. While the studio version lasts five minutes, that’s nothing compared to the longer, highly intense performances of the song on the road.
At Fillmore East, the band’s 1971 double live album, features a 22-minute, 40-second version of the song that further solidifies its spot as one of the best Allman Brothers Band songs.
Even singer Bo Bice, eventually runner-up to Carrie Underwood on the fourth season of American Idol, noted it as one of his favorites during his audition for the popular singing reality competition. He even sang it a few times throughout the season.
Related: Carrie Underwood’s Net Worth
1. “Ramblin Man”
“Ramblin Man” couldn’t simply be included on our list of the best Allman Brothers Band songs; it had to take the top spot.
Ironically deemed the song most out of the realm of the kind of music the popular rock band was used to recording, it proved their ability to sing anything convincingly. With more of a country music sound, the song, recorded for their Brothers and Sisters album, became their only top 10 single and peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100.
Considering guitarist and writer Dickey Betts found the inspiration for the song from Hank William’s song of the same name, recorded 20 years earlier, we can see why it became one of their biggest hits.
We love it when an artist, no matter who they are, takes a risk in their music because, just like this song, it proved to pay off.
What are your top Allman Brothers Band songs?
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