I don’t think Gregg Allman intended to record his farewell the day he stepped into the historic Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, to record “My Only True Friend.”
But in a bittersweet way, he inadvertently did.
The haunting track is a weary, soulful ode to life on the road and the toll it takes on love. This is a life Allman defined and an undercurrent of so much of his brilliant work throughout his career. It’s blues-rock love song for the ages and a story that can come only from the storyteller who lived it.
It’s quintessentially Allman in every way imaginable. The worn-in effortless soul, the driving blues guitar at the outtro and the perfectly placed horns that pepper the arrangement all hearken back to his 1973 solo debut Laid Back.
And there’s his voice, still so full of life and magic — that distinctive, weathered rasp is completely uncompromised by time.
Which is why it’s heartbreaking to hear these words now, three months after his death. Lyrics like, “I can’t bear to think that this might be the end” and “I hope you’re haunted by the music of my soul when I’m gone” already carried such a sense of foreshadowing within the context of the story. In in the present tense, it seems to ring true for his own life.
And in that way, those words are oddly comforting to those of us left behind still grieving the loss of one of the greatest singers, songwriters and musicians who ever lived. We will always be haunted by the music of Allman’s soul in a wonderful way that will keep his legacy alive for generations to come.
Produced by the Don Was and recorded with Allman’s touring band, “My Only True Friend” is featured Allman’s final album, Southern Blood, set for release Sept. 8.