Ramblin' Man

Album: Brothers And Sisters (1973)
Charted: 2
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  • Lyrics
  • Allmans guitarist Dickey Betts wrote this song, taking the title from the 1951 Hank Williams song "Ramblin' Man." Betts also sang lead on the track, which he described as mostly autobiographical, telling the story of a guy whose travels take him to many places, and who takes life as it comes.

    "When I was a kid, my dad was in construction and used to move the family band and forth between central Florida's east and west coasts," he said in the book Anatomy of a Song. "I'd go to one school for a year and then the other the next. I had two sets of friends and spent a lot of time in the back seat of a Greyhound bus. Ramblin' was in my blood."
  • This was the first Allman Brothers Band single recorded without their leader, Duane Allman, who was killed in a 1971 motorcycle accident. Duane's work is on their 1972 album Eat a Peach, but for their next album, Brothers and Sisters, they had to fill the creative and sonic void left by his passing. Dickey Betts stepped up in a big way with "Ramblin' Man," which became the group's biggest hit and proved they could survive the loss.
  • A key line in this song emerged in 1969 when Dickey Betts was playing in various bands in Florida. He would often stay with a friend, Kenny Harwick, who had a habit of asking questions and then answering them. One day, he asked Betts how he was doing and then answered for him: "I bet you're just trying to make a living and doing the best you can."

    Betts held onto that line until 1972, when he wrote the rest of the lyric at the house the band shared in Macon, Georgia.
  • The five-second intro on this track is very effective, making the song instantly identifiable and launching it right into the chorus. Betts called it "a fiddle-like opener built on a pentatonic scale" (his dad played the fiddle). That section is his guitar and Chuck Leavell's piano.
  • After a chorus/verse/chorus/guitar solo/verse/chorus, the song resolves for another two minutes in an intricate section inspired by the end of "Layla," a track Duane Allman played on. This was Dickey Betts' idea. To accomplish it, he first tried overdubbing lots of guitar parts, but then recruited his friend Les Dudek, who was in the studio, to play lead with him, as Duane would have. They played together, creating a bed by repeating the guitar line over and over, then doing it again in a lower register, which they then overdubbed onto the track. Betts then overdubbed a lead part on slide guitar, coming in and out of the track as he listened to the bed.

    This section served as a tribute to Duane Allman, as it built on the twin-guitar harmony sound he forged with the band. It also gave the band lots of room to show their chops when they played it live.
  • The original working title of the song was "Ramblin' Country Man." A heretofore unknown third verse was sung by Dickey Betts on his Instant Live CD released in 2004. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Dave - Madison, WI
  • The band played this on the premiere of an ABC show called In Concert. It was their first national TV appearance, and also Berry Oakley's last performance, as the bass player died in a motorcycle accident a week later. The show aired after his death and was dedicated to him.
  • This was the last song Berry Oakley recorded. He died in a motorcycle accident on November 11, 1972.
  • This was kept out of the #1 spot by Cher's "Half Breed." Gregg Allman married Cher in 1975.
  • This song was referenced in the Nickelodeon Cartoon Hey Arnold! briefly and not by title, but by lyric. In the episode "The Journal," when discussion of the title Character's birth springs up, his grandmother responds, "I Thought he was born in the back seat of a Greyhound bus going down highway 41." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Logan - Troy, MT
  • A short part of this song appears in the 1973 movie The Exorcist. It's used in a bar scene when the priest is in the bar. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Burak - Mersin, Turkey
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Comments: 25

  • Kevin from White Spur, TexasHighway 41 runs across Vineville Avenue- less than a block from "The Big House"
    that the Allman Brothers called home in the early 70's. Those walls inspired some very fine music. The Betts' classic, "Blue Sky" was concieved there.
  • Kawa from Tokyo, JapanHi Music lovers,

    I think that the songwriter of 'Ramblin' Man', thought the song was a good song and he wanted to write a song like that and wrote 'Ramblin' Man' in 1973. Because the lines or expressions on both songs were almost the same. On 'Ramblin' Man' has lines like 'I was born', 'trying to make a living and doing the best I can', 'My father', 'he wound up on the wrong end of a gun', 'I was born in a back seat of a greyhound bus.
    On 'Gypsies, Tramps And Thieves', you can find very similar lines, too ! It goes like this 'I was born in the wagon of', 'Papa would do whatever he could', 'for the money', or 'Papa would've shot him'. I think that the songwriter wrote the song this way, The rest is history.
  • Kawa from Tokyo, JapanHi Music lovers,

    I think that the idea of the lyrics of the song came from the song 'Gypsies, Tramps And Thieves' sung by Cher in 1971. This song was a big hit song, too. I think that the songwriter of 'Ramblin' Man'.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn October 5th 1973, the Allman Brothers Band performed "Ramblin' Man" on the ABC-TV program 'Don Kirchners Rock Concert'...
    At the time the song was at #7 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; the following week it would peak at #2 {for 1 week} and it stayed on the chart for 16 weeks...
    Was track two of side one the band's fourth studio album, 'Brothers and Sisters', and on September 2nd, 1973 the album reached #1 {for 5 weeks} on Billboard's Top 200 Albums chart...
    One other track from the album also made the Top 100 chart, 'Jessica', it peaked at #65...
    Between 1971 and 1981 the band had eleven Top 100 records; their next biggest hit was "Crazy Love", it reached #29 in 1979.
  • Greg from Harrington Park, NjDickey got the lyrics in the chorus from a conversation he had with his neighbor one day. The guy was outside working in his yard and Dickey yelled over to him, how are you? etc. ... and the guy replied back. Oh you know not too bad doin the best I can. ... Not sure of the exact quotes here but the story itself can be found in the book Midnight riders -- and no this is not a plug for that book, just a clarification for the story.
  • Laura from El Paso, TxI love and have listened to this song so much I can sing along word for word. Great song even if it is corny
  • Celine from Rockledge, FlI am one of the biggest brothers fan ever, but this is there worst crap song. Like it says it was made to see if they could do it without Duane. They took it to pop music and that's never been good for great music. Don't get me wrong it's good, just to commerical for the bro's. I see Mike Allman play on a regular basis at a local bar in Florida and he plays all his dad's songs but not this one for sure.
  • Art from Columbus, OhRamblin Gamblin Man is from 1968 and it is a great song!
  • Rick from Graysville, MoIf you like Les Dudek, pick up Ghost Town Parade, excellent album and very underrated
  • Francis L. Vena from New York City,, Nygreat organic country song- the ABB after Duane's
    death became a country-rock bank- prior to that
    they embodied a classic blues-jazz-improv live
    band- no band could match their virtousity
    with Dickey and Duane playing dual leads-flv
  • Andrew from Birmingham, United StatesFor some reason, this song sounds so country to me. This sounds like something that country groups have done before. I wouldn't be surprised if a country group or two has made a version of it. About what plays on classic rock stations, I like that "Old Time Rock-And-Roll" as well as that '70s style with the disco beat, but it's nice to also have a little country-sounding rock included.
  • Chris from Milford, Ctles dudek plays the harmony parts of the solos not the actual lead solos, those are all dickey. read this interview for more info on dudek: http://www.xmfan.com/les.php
  • Robert from Chicago, IlThere are two different versions of this song that exist. The original LP version is much slower than the common single mix which we all know and love. I did a A/B side by side comparison with the CD hits collection. There IS a difference...the CD version is sped up to give the harmonies a more "poppy" feel to it.
  • Guy from Woodinville, WaA great guitar song! The guitars melodies dancing ansd twirling together during the fade-out is right up there with Hotel Califoria.
  • Lazur from Chicago, IlLes Dudek did indeed take the first solo on "Ramblin' Man", but it;s not ghosted , but credited, even back then. It's a good solo, and different; I can't find anything from from Duane or Dickie quite like it, (and that includes when Betts tries and fails to play this solo live). If his birth info is correct, Les was -16- years old when he did this.
  • Jim from Laramie, Wythe most popular and known song performed by the allman brothers band, I really like the song alot, it's country inflicted, but i would never consider it southern rock. if you listen to some of dickey bett's live solos you can hear some of his dancy "country like" structures. but, i will always consider the brothers to be a blues rock jam band...
  • Ray from Stockton, NjThis song is definately not the best song of the 70s but it is probably my favorite Allman Brothers Band song, and i don't know if i'm right did Duane Allman die before this was made?
  • Jimmy from Troy, NyVery corny song. Guitar playing is great at the end, but the lyrics aren't. Not anywhere close to as good as most of their other songs from 1969-1975 when they were still great.
  • David from New York City, NyIf I am not mistaken Les Dudek ghosted the Duane Allmanism lead, not Dickey Betts
  • Victor from Vienna, Vathe #1 driving song EVER!!! priceless!
  • Tony from Perth, Australiamy old man lives along highway 41 in Ft Myers Florida, but I wasn't born in the backseat of a greyhound bus rolling along it!
  • Chuck from Paris, FranceI found this song in a random search. It's OK, for a '70s song, but not really on a level with "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man" by Bob Seger, which I don't find in this database. Can someone fill this gap pls? When was "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man" recorded and released, etc.?
    Thanks.
  • Burak from Mersin, TurkeyA part of this song appears on the scene when the priest is at a bar in the movie, 'The Exorcist'
  • Brice from Tallmadge, United StatesIt Was Also Used In The Great Tim Burton Film, BIG FISH
  • James from Bridgeport, CtI think this song was playing in the background in a restaurant near the begining of "When Harry met Sally." I'm not sure though
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