Allman Brothers: Why so many instrumentals?

Not that they have a lot, but compared to other groups, they have quite a few.

Not that I am complaining. I think that In Memory of Elizabeth Reed, Jessica, *Little *Martha and others are some of their best work.

Is there something about the music in these songs that makes it difficult to put words to?

Has any one in the band ever been asked about this?

They don’t need words.

They were absolutely fantastic musicians, and I imagine many of the instrumentals came out of jam sessions - you know, where someone was messing around on something and others joined in and there you go. They were ‘brothers’, after all.

I also bet they also didn’t concern themselves with: "We’ve produced a song, now we NEED vocals!’.

Instrumentals from rock bands, it seems to me, used to be much more commonplace. I would wager there is a musical skill level involved you may not see as often today. Bands like Pink Floyd (ex: On the Run), Rush (YYZ), and even Funkadelic (Maggot Brain) regularly featured at least one, if not more, instrumentals on their album tracks.

While I don’t believe this is 100% true, I say it often anyway:

Songs without words can tell many different stroies each time you listen. Songs with words tells the same story over and over.

Most songs with words I rarely even bother to learn them and the voice just becomes another instrument. Often times when I do accidentally learn the words, it ruins the song. Very few lyrics add to the songs, for me.

And music videos were right on the path to ruining a song completely.

There’s a whole genre of rock that’s mostly instrumental, stupidly called post rock. While a lot of it is generic, the better bands have made plenty of great music.

Leaving aside rock music, there’s plenty of electronica that’s instrumental or mostly so. While a great deal of it is forgettable, there are a few scenes that are putting out some very cool music, much of it also instrumental.

I personally play in two bands, one of which is exclusively instrumental.

Maybe you’re not hearing the instrumental music that’s around, but it is around. If you seek it out, you might be surprised. It’s not classic rock, though, so there’s that.

I can always mention the Dixie Dregs.* Or people like Beethoven, Mozart, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Glenn Miller, John Fahey, etc. Even rock acts like the Who, the Beatles, Frank Zappa, Procol Harum, Traffic, and others did instrumentals from time to time.

There’s no reason why a song has to have lyrics, and many acts managed to write songs without them. Why add a lyric to a song when it works without one?

*I always thought that they’d be great teaming up with the Persuasions. :wink:

The late 60’s and early 70’s was when Rock was about challenging the rules of Pop - after Sgt. Pepper, everyone wanted to stretch out.

The Allmans were a Southern, jazz-ish version of Prog/Jam rock. As they created and explored the form, they did some instrumentals. And yay for that!

Is that what you are asking?

Any songs that have words that don’t need them?

One that comes to mind is Fleetwood Mac’s Never going home again.

I think that Lindsey Buckingham’s guitar work could stand alone, kinda like the Allman’s Little Martha or Led Zeppelin’s Black Mountain Side.

Maybe no one wanted to sing.

When your group is composed of sterling musicians and mediocre vocalists, instrumentals become a selling point.

That’s a very long list, in my opinion. I really like instrumental rock. Some of my favorite bands have offered special versions of albums with a bonus disc of instrumental versions of the songs that had lyrics in their original release:
Dream Theater, Black Clouds and Silver Linings
Nightwish, Imaginaerum
Blind Guardian, At the Edge of Time

It’s a different experience listening to the instrumental version, so it’s hard to decide whether one version is better or not… but of the three examples above, I feel pretty strongly that Dream Theater’s instrumental versions are far better than the vocal versions.


I wish someone would tell Phish that.

Not mentioned, but San Francisco groups at the time did lots of instrumentals and included them on albums. Santana was perhaps as noted for instrumentals as songs. Quicksilver did a bunch even before the fabulous Nicky Hopkins joined and added his piano-based brilliance. The whole Fillmore crowd dabbled in them. I suspect drugs may have been involved.

Beat me to it

Same here. That might be one of the reasons I love MPB, Brazilian popular music. I don’t understand a word of Portuguese, but it just doesn’t matter. It’s just beautiful music.

Guitarist Leo Kottke once said he felt he was forced to sing even though he described his voice as “geese farts on a muggy day.” People wanted the singer, not just the songwriter.

Bwahaahahah! I don’t know if that is/was? Phish’s problem. In fact, it probably wouldn’t alter my opinion of them – but they should try it.
I’m another person who usually “gets” the lyrics of a song on the 30th or so listen. I’ve been in bands where after playing a new song for a while, all of a sudden, “Woah! this song is about that?” sinks in while playing a show.

Now, I’m way more easy going on lyrical themes than most folks, but even I blush sometimes. Every lyric that isn’t insipid and bland is going to do that to someone, due to the fact that everyone brings their own baggage to the interpretation. The only band that didn’t do this to me was the instrumental surf rock band.

So yeah, if you can have a band where the musicianship is the draw, and you can make ends meet doing instrumentals; I’d have a hard time seeing why you wouldn’t do it.

Imagine Billy Don’t Be a Hero without lyrics. I wouldn’t say it would be great, but it would be an improvement.