When Gregg Allman went into the studio to record his final album Southern Blood it was clear to all those around him that he was saying goodbye. The record, released posthumously last September, contains a number of tracks that tell the story of a man looking back on his life. In 2017, we wrote about his version of the Grateful Dead’s “Black Muddy River” and how it provided a feeling of joyful release. By contrast, the album’s closing tune, a cover of Jackson Browne’s “Song for Adam,” relates a much bleaker story.
Allman’s label, Rounder Records, recently released a video for the track, which depicts an old man longing for his younger days, reminiscing about riding his motorcycle alongside his friend. These images are filled with symbolism for fans of the Allman Brothers Band, as both guitarist Duane Allman and bassist Berry Oakley died in separate motorcycle crashes in the early 1970s.
Browne wrote the song as a tribute to his own departed friend, Adam Saylor, who died in 1968, and included it on his self-titled 1972 album. The lyrics are filled with images of death and remembrance of things past. “Song for Adam” has only been covered a handful of times over the years, most notably by Kiki Dee on her 1973 album Loving & Free, which was co-produced by Elton John.
According to producer Don Was, when Allman recorded the song, he was not able to sing the final portion of the lyrics. Was said that Allman became too emotional since the words reminded him of Duane. With Browne singing backup, Allman kept the feel of the tune largely the same as the original. However, Allman replaced the viola track with an ethereal pedal style guitar, almost as if to emulate Johnny Cash’s late career recordings with Rick Rubin. A haunting cover, by a troubled soul.
Click here to listen to more of Gregg Allman’s covers.