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I was born at a relatively young age. Growing up consumed the better part of my childhood. As a young man I chased a lot of girls. But they kept getting away. Then I got older and even slower, so I got married. I've lived in New York City almost since before I moved here. I summer in Manhattan, which is like New York City, but with more humidity.

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On the Hardest-Working Man in Show Business: Warren Haynes
Saturday, July 31, 2004
This is a piece I posted to a listserv dedicated to the Allman Brothers Band. APW apologizes to our readers for the presentation of material that was not originally composed for this forum. But be advised, all 5 of you, that any time APW posts content that has been in any way re-cycled, it will be similarly disclosed.


So Alan R made a comment about all the bands sort of starting to sound the same because Warren was in them all-- Mule, Dead, ABB, PLQ. Actually I'd add a 5th act to that list: Warren Haynes Solo.

My first reaction was to disagree. But it kind of stuck with me, and I can see Alan's point. I mean, any of these acts is capable of busting out "Beautifully Broken," "Into the Mystic," "Soulshine." Yes, you could also point out that we have the Derek Trucks Band, Great Southern, the Peacemakers, etc. so there are plenty of other worthy bands-- but there is no getting around it, the Warren acts command a remarkable share of the head space of the music we collectively basically like.

I tend to take the reverse perspective to Alan, but that may be because I'm an almost Margot-level Warren fan. (One difference: I wouldn't do him.) I first understood the heroic quality of Warren at the indelible One 4 Woody show; the man was onstage for all but 2 songs, and it remains the most athletic performance I've ever seen a musician give. Then after the Summer of Jimmy Herring, when Warren tentatively rejoined the Brothers for the 2001 Beacon run, he so filled the hole that it seemed as if the stage was tilted toward him (necessary at the time, but a phase they had to navigate past before shooting for greatness.)

I'm finding the sheer mass of work that Warren does, and that is made available, to be similarly athletic, similarly heroic. (How many soundboard shows with Warren have been around over the last few years, including "official" releases, Instant Lives, MunchMusic, and the PLQ/Dead freebies? Dozens?) There is something almost Paul Bunyanesque to me about him; seeing a Warren show feels a little like seeing a Springsteen show at the Boss's peak, when he had ascended to almost mythic status. (Like, I'll be telling my grandchildren, "Yep, yep. Saw Warren Haynes, I did. Stood 8 foot 4 in his stocking feet, yessiree...")

Now, I don't want to get to the point where I DO call them Warren shows. Here's where I agree with Alan; I want Mule to be Mule, the ABB to be the ABB, the PLQ to be the PLQ, and the Dead to feature Bobby less. But I'm finding art in the sheer magnitude of fitting into all these bands, hearing what the Brothers do to "Rocking Horse," hearing Warren lead the PLQ through "Low Spark," his bringing songs like "Cortez" and "One" and "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" into the Dead's repertoire (here's hoping for "Wasted Time," in the second set "China Doll" slot.)

As for solo and the Mule, I think Warren's songwriting has unfolded profoundly over the past few years. He can write a really good, truly sad song, and that is not an easy thing to do. One takeaway from the recent solo shows was how solidly songs like "Beautifully Broken," "Banks of the Deep End," and Patchwork Quilt" hold up, even totally stripped of all but acoustic guitar and interpretive vocal. Even "Tastes Like Wine," far less obviously a singer/songwriter vehicle, lost little of its power in the solo setting (although he did use electricity and effects. But still.)

The prospect of the pending Mule studio release-- with Warren writing for this line-up, and featuring all songs thus far never played live-- is especially enticing. He's at a particularly fertile, breakthrough time in his song craft.

So yeah, when it comes to Warren I wear my heart on my sleeve. (Derek too, in a less emotive, jazzier sort of way.) But his ubiquity, I've decided, pleases me more than it troubles me.

Differing opinions are of course equally valid, because this one is entirely subjective. Although be advised that spelling and punctuation count.


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