on bein’ born on the wrong end of a slide guitar (until now)

I was born and raised in southern Mississippi by two people who got religion hard when I turned four. Music was huge in our lives, which made the Church of God and life bearable, but only gospel music was allowed (and only a cappella in church/no instruments) unless my daddy had backslid (which I used to pray he would, disconcerting the very hell out of god, I was pretty sure most Sundays, but it actually worked once in a while so was worth it), and then we’d get to listen to the Grand Ol’ Opry on the porch after dark. I didn’t know rock and roll existed until late in high school, and that is just as well.

Then in my teens, we got a new school bus driver whose name here I won’t spell out since he’s probably still alive and wouldn’t want the credit, but he drove a Corvette (and eventually two, one gold and one silver, as I recall) and played guitar in a local band, and when he stopped for us at 6 a.m. every morning, we’d climb up on those stairs to Dickey Betts belting out what I decided was a fine anthem (“Lord, I was born a ramblin’ man”). It was easy on my ears and soothed my troubled soul all the way to school and back.

I never heard the opening to this Fillmore East concert or Duane Allman caress that guitar with that slide until fifteen minutes ago. My husband, born and raised by Baptists, who everybody knows get a better deal of living out of every last day (and night), is introducing me to all the music he knew then and I didn’t. He just played this concert for me. I never heard it as a teen. That’s just as well, too, because I can tell you this much today. If I’d’ve heard “Don’t Keep Me Wonderin'” in the 1970s? I would’ve just given up and gone on to sinnin’ right then and there and thus saved myself a decade of trouble and misspent prayers.

Leave a Comment