Jessica – Dickey Betts’ Creative Masterpiece

Jessica - The Allman Brothers Band

Vaylor TrucksBrittany Oakley“Jessica,” Dickey Betts’ spectacularly vibrant instrumental written for The Allman Brothers’ 1973 album Brothers And Sisters, marked the band’s evolution from a strict regimen of blues interpretations to a more expansive sound that embraced country/western and traditional Americana. After the passing of Duane Allman and Berry Oakley, Dickey Betts took the helm and reshaped the band’s sound to reflect his own grand musical vision. Consequently, Brothers And Sisters is a Betts rainbow, more colorful and lighter in mood. It is reminiscent of a galloping horse, the whispering wind on an open desert plain or a stream splashing and bubbling over wet stones. Betts’ songs have, for the most part, always been inherently celebratory and are affirmations of being alive. There are no “Whipping Posts” under Dickey Betts’ “Blue Sky.”

“Jessica,” a musical carnival paying tribute to the daughter Betts had with Sandy Bluesky, is lush with flowery harmonizing guitar lines. Busy backing instruments chirp like excited crickets during a summer sunset around Betts’ melodious centerpiece guitar. “Jessica” is an instrumental tour de force marked distinctly by Chuck Leavell’s unforgettably dramatic piano parts and Dickey Betts climactic, explosive guitar solo that musically memorializes the miracle of his daughter’s birth. Betts was able to forge musical history by conveying joyous, celebratory emotions and evoking visual imagery without relying on the use of lyrics to express his inspiration. Contrary to the common assumption that Betts played the backing acoustic part, it was played by Les Dudek. This was the first song recorded with new bassist Lamar Williams after the death of Berry Oakley. “Jessica, like “In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed,” stands as powerful testament to Dickey Betts’ passionate conviction in the potential of the guitar’s masterful role in a rock song.