Growing Roots in Rocky Soil: An Environmental History of Southern Rock

Duane Allman, 1971, photographed by Ed Berman, courtesy of a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License.

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Growing Roots in Rocky Soil: An Environmental History of Southern Rock

by Bartow J. Elmore
Southern Cultures, Vol. 16, No. 3: Roots Music

"In 1967, the Allman brothers headed to California, hoping to make it big in a band called Hour Glass. The band quickly became popular on the Los Angeles music circuit, playing at popular clubs like the Whiskey a Go Go and drawing the attention of rising rock stars like Neil Young and Janis Joplin."

It was early summer, and we were in the Cohutta Wilderness of North Georgia—a couple of Atlanta high school kids off for a weekend backpacking trip. We drove into the woods ready to conquer the wild—off to get our hands dirty, to get our feet wet just a few counties over from where Burt Reynolds and director John Boorman filmed James Dickey’s Deliverance. We skidded along old fire roads as we entered the wilderness, piping the Allman Brothers through the rattling speakers of the 4×4. As we crested a small ridge, the song “Dreams” commenced, and Gregg Allman belted out the soulful line, “I went up on the mountain / To see what I could see / The whole world was falling right down in front of me.” Perfect. As a young adventurer in the South, somehow I felt that the music of the Allman Brothers provided an ideal soundtrack for our excursion into the woods. Why? This was the question that sparked this study.