“Cast Off All My Fears”: Duane and Gregg – and Jackson Browne

Of all the goofy stunts in popular music, the decision to issue the debut album by         Hour Glass with the cover photo upside down certainly has to rank among the nuttiest.

Hour Glass album cover

Gregg Allman, curiously, doesn’t mention it in his 2012 autobiography, My Cross to Bear, but he does talk a little bit about the song selection process for his and Duane’s first major label album that was released in 1967 on Liberty Records:

“When it came time to record that first Hour Glass record, (producer) Dallas Smith came to us with a washtub full of not cassettes but acetates.  One of them was signed by Carole King, and I’ve still got it.  It’s called “No Easy Way Down,” and we recorded that, along with another one of her songs, “So Much Love.”  They handed us that basket of songs and said, ‘Okay, now pick out your album.’  I couldn’t believe it, and neither could Sandlin (future Muscles Shoals house drummer, Johnny Sandlin).”

Even though Gregg ended up being the only band member who was allowed to contribute an original song on the debut Hour Glass album, as it turned out, not every single song was given to them sight unseen.  The fourth track on side one – “Cast Off All My Fears” – was written by then-unknown songwriter, Jackson Browne, a good friend of the band:

As Gregg recalls:

“I met Jackson through Jimmie Fadden who was the harp player for the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.  Jackson had actually been a member of the Dirt Band in their early days.  He would crash at my place from time to time, because he was too proud to go back to his parents’ house in Long Beach.  Jackson knew he wasn’t going to do anything else but write songs and play music.  He’s a hell of a nice guy, incredibly funny, incredibly sarcastic, and him and my brother really hit it off — he was absolutely flabbergasted by Duane’s playing.  Jackson was our kind of folk, a person that I just liked being around.

“I watched Jackson write a lot of stuff, and I mean slave over it.  He was so deeply into it that he didn’t know I was in the room.  Every now and then, he would crawl off with that guitar and you would hear some beautiful melodies coming from the bedroom.  He would come over quite often, and he’d tell you that he was starting to get a little too bluegrassy, a little too country, and we brought him out of that.  We took him on some gigs with us from time to time, but of course, none of us were known at this point.  Jackson Browne was just this guy named Jackson Browne — he was just another musician.”