Friday, August 31, 2012

Not My Cross To Bear -- The Allman Brothers

I have another one of those signature moments that defined a song’s place in my life to share with you.  Only this time it was not a chipper light-hearted moment.  You might even say that it gave me the blues.

All through junior high and high school I was friends with this guy.  We had been there for each other through bad times and good.  He had seen me at my worst and at my best.  He had always been a bit mischievous but once we graduated from high school he fell into a slow decline.  We still hung out and partied together but while I had started a life of working hard and playing hard, he blew off the hard work part and went head first into the play part.  He blew off his college classes and ended up having a report card that looked like Bluto Blutarski’s--zero point zero zero.  He eventually dropped out and started drifting from meager job to meager job.  

A lot of times when you're young, you fail to grasp the severity of this kind of stuff and that was what happened to me.  He was still the same old buddy to me.  I didn't judge him and I figured he would eventually find his way.  But it didn’t happen.  

I started to get a clue finally when he would start bragging about how he was scamming his employers.  He would work to gain their trust and when they gave him their trust, he would betray them by stealing merchandise and sometimes lifting money from the till.  It was around this time that I started to hang out with him less often.  

One day my roommate and I were sitting on our porch on a nice summer night drinking beer.  After not seeing my high school friend for some time, he suddenly appeared out of the blue.  We chatted for a bit and drank a couple more beers.    It was then that he revealed that he stopped by to ask us a favor.  He needed us to drive an hour or two north of Minneapolis to some cabin in the woods he was living in.  He needed us to help him move all his stuff out because the next day the sheriff was coming to evict him.  The water and power had already been turned off.

So there we were in the middle of the woods in rural Minnesota at one o’clock in the morning moving crap from his place to the house next door.  The guy next door wasn’t home, but our friend was telling us how cool this dude was because he sold opium.  Our friend offered to pay us in opium once we finished moving his stuff.  I politely said, “Maybe some other time.”

We were almost done at about three in the morning when this friend came up to me to thank me and he said, “This is what friend’s are for, right dude?  You can always count on them.”  I nodded half agreeing and then said, “Yeah, but you can’t be blindly loyal either.”  He didn’t respond to that.  I don’t think he got what I was saying.  

It was a long blue ride back to the city with my roommate.  We had known this guy for a long time, but we both knew that our friendship with him had come to an end.

We popped in this Allman Brothers tape for the long silent drive home and I will never forget the poignancy and timing of this song, “Not My Cross To Bear.”  Until this night it had just been another song in my collection.

Sorry I was such a bummer this time, but I highly recommend this song and the whole album. A pretty good deal for both.

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