ANTHEM, Book 3 of the Sixties Trilogy, publishes on October 1. Each of the book’s 47 chapters begins with a song from the Sixties to set the tone, mood, and scene. Every day between now and October 1, come have a listen and read a snippet from each chapter. On October 1, these posts will be archived with a link at ANTHEM’s webpage for #teachingAnthem1969

This is Chapter 15 (day 33):

Performed by the Allman Brothers Band
Live at Piedmont Park, Atlanta, GA 1969
Recorded at Fillmore East, NY, NY 1971
Drummers: Butch Trucks and Jai Johany Johansen (Jaimoe)


When they’ve hinted at the melody just enough, the fans start screaming for it — screaming like they’re on fire. They clap in time, one-one-one-one, every single note, until Duane breaks into the full melody and the whole band follows. A cheer rises up like Moses has just parted the Red Sea. The organ wails and the Allman Brothers Band takes us to the Promised Land.

It’s Donovan’s song “There is a Mountain” — I recognize it. But it’s theirs, too, their own interpretation, a mountain jam. It’s tight. It’s in the pocket. They are locked into one another like they share one nervous system, communicating like they’re all part of the same body, like nothing I’ve ever imagined was possible.

“It’s all about listening,” Mr. McCauley always tells us in band. “You can’t jam if you can’t listen.”

We’ve left the Association far behind, eh? They were definitely not a jam band, and the ABB definitely was. And therein lies the difference between Molly and Norman. She likes order. He likes jam. 

But there IS order in the jam. I just had to learn to listen for it. My jazzcat husband has helped me learn to listen, and I wanted Molly to come to appreciate the jam, too — life is jam, after all, there is precious little predictable order, even though we may think there is or wish for it.

But right now, Molly isn’t having this jam, as you’ll see in Chapter 16, when we hear the Donovan original song.

I love “Mountain Jam,” all 33:41 minutes of it. It’s got a killer (double) drum solo (at 13:00), which was important to me for Norman, since Norman is a drummer. I’ve listened to “Mountain Jam” dozens of times since I started researching ANTHEM. It helps (me, anyway) to know the history of the band, the story of Duane and Greg and Berry and Butch and Jaimoe and Dickey.  

And it helps to go there. I went to Macon a couple of years ago, to research, and to pay my respects at the Rose Hill Cemetery. Greg had just died. They laid him next to Duane and Berry. People left tributes all along the path. There is such power in the music that has moved us, and in the memory of those who created it.

I have a 22-second clip of driving past “the Big House” in Macon two years ago, while researching ANTHEM and blasting the ABB’s “Ramblin’ Man,” but it won’t load today. Bummer. You can listen to “Ramblin’ Man,” though, and that’s even better.

Chapter 15.