Music

The Allman Brothers Wanted to Give ‘Ramblin’ Man’ to Merle Haggard

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Before tragically passing away from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Allman Brothers Band co-founder Butch Trucks shared that they originally wanted to give their hit “Ramblin’ Man” to Merle Haggard.

In his last ever interview, Trucks told John J. Moser the real story behind the iconic tune.

After Duane Allman passed away, the band’s sound shifted notably. “We quit playing so much in that jazz genre that we were playing in and started heading more toward country stuff,” Trucks said. Allman’s death left Dickey Betts the sole guitarist in the band.

One of the first versions of the song originated in 1971 during practice sessions for the band’s third album, Eat a Peach. Betts felt some inspiration from Hank Williams’ 1951 song of the same name and introduced the concept of a “ramblin’ country man.”

But the sound didn’t originally clash with the band. “Even Dickey figured it was too much country for the Allman Brothers,” Trucks said. “We actually went to the studio to make a demo of that to send to Merle Haggard.”

At the time, Haggard was several years into his national success. The Allman Brothers, meanwhile, captured the critics, but not the charts. Giving the song to Haggard would’ve certainly ensured its success.

But during the recording session for the song, the musicianship of the players took over. “Then we got into the studio and got into that big long jam at the end with all those guitar parts and everything, and we forgot about how country the song was,” Trucks said. “And then wouldn’t you know it — it becomes our only hit single.”

The song remains the only Top 10 tune for the iconic band. But before his death, Trucks hinted that just maybe it played itself out in his eyes. “If I never hear that song again it’ll be too soon,” he laughs.

My, things certainly would’ve been different for the band if they handed “Ramblin’ Man” over to the Hag. Instead, the Allman Brothers Band went on to achieve rock superstardom.

Butch Trucks tragically took his own life only hours after the conclusion of that interview.

The Allman Brothers’ “Ramblin’ Man” Lyrics

Lord, I was born a ramblin’ man,
Tryin’ to make a livin’ and doin’ the best I can.
And when it’s time for leavin’,
I hope you’ll understand,
That I was born a ramblin’ man.

My father was a gambler down in Georgia,
And he wound up on the wrong end of a gun.
And I was born in the back seat of a Greyhound bus
Rollin’ down highway 41.

Lord, I was born a ramblin’ man,
Tryin’ to make a livin’ and doin’ the best I can.
And when it’s time for leavin’,
I hope you’ll understand,
That I was born a ramblin’ man.

I’m on my way to New Orleans this mornin’,
Leaving out of Nashville, Tennessee,
They’re always having a good time down on the bayou, Lord
Them Delta women think the world of me.

Lord, I was born a ramblin’ man,
Tryin’ to make a livin’ and doin’ the best I can.
And when it’s time for leavin’,
I hope you’ll understand,
That I was born a ramblin’ man.

See Also: Elvis Presley and Merle Haggard Songs to Enter Grammy Hall of Fame

Now Watch: Merle Haggard Hilariously Impersonates Country Legends

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The Allman Brothers Wanted to Give ‘Ramblin’ Man’ to Merle Haggard