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Ramblin' Man (The Allman Brothers Band song)

"Ramblin' Man" is a song by American rock band The Allman Brothers Band, released in August 1973 as the lead single from the group's fourth studio album, Brothers and Sisters (1973). Written and sung by guitarist Dickey Betts, the song was inspired by a 1951 song of the same name by Hank Williams. It is considerably more inspired by country music than other Allman Brothers Band compositions, which made the group reluctant to record it. Guitarist Les Dudek provides guitar harmonies, and it was one of bassist Berry Oakley's last contributions to the band.

"Ramblin' Man"
Single by The Allman Brothers Band
from the album Brothers and Sisters
B-side"Pony Boy"
ReleasedAugust 1973
Format7" single
RecordedOctober 1972
Songwriter(s)Dickey Betts
Producer(s)Johnny Sandlin, The Allman Brothers
The Allman Brothers Band singles chronology
"One Way Out"
"Ramblin' Man"

The song became the Allman Brothers Band's first and only top 10 single, peaking at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and number twelve on the Easy Listening chart.[3]



"Ramblin' Man" was first created during songwriting sessions for Eat a Peach. An embryonic version, referring to a "ramblin' country man," can be heard on the bootleg The Gatlinburg Tapes, featuring the band jamming on an off-day in April 1971 in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.[4] Betts continued to work on the song for a year, but the lyrics came together in as little as twenty minutes. "I wrote "Ramblin' Man" in Berry Oakley's kitchen [at the Big House] at about four in the morning. Everyone had gone to bed but I was sitting up," said Betts in 2014.[5] Trucks noted that the band acknowledged it was a good song but were reluctant to record it, as it sounded too country for them.[6] New member and keyboardist Chuck Leavell enjoyed the song, noting, "It's definitely in the direction of country but that didn't bother me in the least […] I think our attitude was, 'Let's take this thing and make it as great as we can.'"[5] The song was inspired by a 1951 song of the same name by Hank Williams.[7]

It was one of the first songs, alongside "Wasted Words", recorded for Brothers and Sisters (1973).[4] They went to the studio to record a demo of the song to send to a friend, which is where the long guitar jam near the finale of the song was created.[6] Having not considered it an Allman Brothers song before, they felt the solos fit the band well and decided to put it on the album.[6] Guitarist Les Dudek, who was contributing to Brothers and Sisters, was sitting in the control room when the song was being recorded. He and Betts had worked out the harmony parts together.[5] Betts continued to approach him for his thoughts on the recordings; eventually, he asked him to come record the song with him. "We played it all live. I was standing where Duane would have stood with Berry just staring a hole through me and that was very intense and very heavy," said Dudek.[5] When the song was completed, the management team and road crew gathered to listen to the song. According to Dudek, the room was silent upon its ending and roadie Red Dog remarked, "That's the best I heard since Duane."[5]

Johnny Sandlin, producer of Brothers and Sisters, remarked that he thought it was "crazy" to be released as a single, because "nothing else sounds remotely similar, with the possible exception of "Blue Sky," which had a similar, upbeat major-key bounce."[6]


The song is set in the time signature of common time, with a tempo of 182 beats per minute. It is set in the key of A-flat major. Betts's vocals range from the low-note of Ab3 to the high-note of Gb4.


Capricorn executives were split between issuing "Wasted Words" or "Ramblin' Man" as the lead single. National promotion director Dick Wooley sent advance tapes of "Ramblin' Man" to WQXI-AM in Atlanta and WRKO-AM in Boston radio stations and "listener phone-in reaction was near-phenomenal."[8] "Ramblin' Man" broke hard rock barriers and became a hit on AM stations nationwide, and it rose to number two on the Billboard Hot 100. It was prevented from topping the chart due to the success of Cher's "Half-Breed."[9][8]

AllMusic writes that "the chorus is perhaps the catchiest and prettiest hook in all of Southern rock".[10] Robert Christgau called the tune "miraculous".[11]

In popular cultureEdit

"Ramblin' Man" can be heard in the 1973 film The Exorcist, playing on a jukebox in a bar where two priests are conversing over beers at a table.

In the 1989 movie When Harry Met Sally..., it can be heard playing in the background in a diner scene.

It can also be heard in Season 1, Episode 1 of the TV series Supernatural. In an error, it can also be heard in Supernatural Season 4, Episode 3 entitled "In the Beginning". Dean gets transported back in time and wakes up on a park bench. He stumbles into a diner where "Ramblin' Man" is playing on the jukebox and you can see the date on the newspaper that reads April 30, 1973, three whole months before the song was released.

Scott Porter (George) covers the song in Hart of Dixie Season 02 Episode 02.

The song is playable in the music video games Guitar Hero World Tour and Rock Band 2.[12][13]

In 2019, Luke Combs covered the song backstage on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

Chart performanceEdit

Chart (1973-74) Peak
Australia (Go-Set) [14] 40
Canadian RPM Adult Contemporary 15
Canadian RPM Top Singles 7
US Billboard Hot 100 2
US Billboard Easy Listening[15] 12
US Cashbox Top 100 1



  1. ^ "The 25 best country rock songs of all time". Classic Rock Magazine. August 5, 2016. Retrieved April 27, 2019.
  2. ^ Laney, Karen 'Gilly' (November 3, 2011). "Top 10 Southern Rock Songs". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved April 27, 2019.
  3. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961-2001. Record Research. p. 18.
  4. ^ a b Paul 2014, p. 181.
  5. ^ a b c d e Paul 2014, p. 184.
  6. ^ a b c d Paul 2014, p. 183.
  7. ^ Myers, Marc. "Anatomy of a Song: 'Ramblin' Man'". Archived from the original on May 27, 2014. Retrieved July 7, 2014.
  8. ^ a b Freedland, Nat (September 15, 1973). "Allman's 5th Instant Click Based on Built-In Demand". Billboard. 85 (37): 1, 48. ISSN 0006-2510.
  9. ^ Paul 2014, p. 225.
  10. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Ramblin' Man Review". AllMusic Guide. Retrieved May 11, 2007.
  11. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Consumer Guide: The Allman Brothers Band". Retrieved February 15, 2013.
  12. ^ Athab, Majed (September 12, 2008). "Guitar Hero: World Tour's 86-track song list fully revealed". engadget. Oath Inc. Retrieved September 29, 2017.
  13. ^ Snow, Jean (July 14, 2008). "The Complete Rock Band 2 Track List". Wired.
  14. ^ "Go-Set Australian charts – 8 December 1973". December 8, 1973. Retrieved August 13, 2014.
  15. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1993). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–1993. Record Research. p. 14.


  • Paul, Alan (2014). One Way Out: The Inside History of the Allman Brothers Band. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-1250040497.
  • Freeman, Scott (1996). Midnight Riders: The Story of the Allman Brothers Band. Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 978-0316294522.
  • Poe, Randy (2008). Skydog: The Duane Allman Story. Backbeat Books. ISBN 978-0879309398.
  • Allman, Gregg; Light, Alan (2012). My Cross to Bear. William Morrow. ISBN 978-0062112033.

External linksEdit