Jessica (The Allman Brothers Band song)

Jessica (The Allman Brothers Band song)

:"For other songs named "Jessica", see Jessica (song)."Song_infobox
Name = Jessica

SorA = album
Artist = The Allman Brothers Band
Album = Brothers and Sisters
Released = September 1973
track_no = 6
Recorded = 1972
Genre = Rock
Length = 7:30
Writer = Dickey Betts
Composer =
Label = Capricorn Records
Producer = Johnny Sandlin, The Allman Brothers
Chart position =
prev = Southbound
prev_no = 5
next = Pony Boy
next_no = 7
"Jessica" is a rock instrumental written by Dickey Betts, guitarist of The Allman Brothers Band.

Jessica was first released on the band's 1973 album "Brothers and Sisters", and has subsequently been used in many musical contexts. In January 2006, a "Wall Street Journal" article referred to the piece as "a true national heirloom."

The piece, along with "Ramblin' Man", is one of the two most famous tracks from the album, an album which marked the beginning of a new era for the Allman Brothers Band following the deaths of Duane Allman and Berry Oakley. It is arguably one of the most popular entirely-instrumental pieces in the history of rock music. Named after Jessica Betts, the daughter of Dickey Betts and bride-to-be Sandy Bluesky, "Jessica" is a buoyant tune, with a joyous main guitar riff, and, clocking in at over seven minutes, pleasantly rambling, featuring multiple solos from both guitar and piano. Because of this nature, it has garnered something of a reputation as being a "driving song" (in the mold of "Born to be Wild") Fact|date=February 2007 and has been the theme tune to popular British motoring programme "Top Gear" since its inception in 1978.


The piece is very structured, starting out with an opening motif on acoustic guitar (played by guest guitarist Les Dudek) that gradually builds into the signature main theme played by Dickey Betts on two Fact|date=May 2008 electric guitars, Gregg Allman on Hammond Organ, and Chuck Leavell on Fender Rhodes Electric Piano. The theme follows in a somewhat "verse/chorus" style, but quickly changes directions after the second "verse", breaking back down into the opening motif. The reprise of the opening motif builds at a slower pace, introducing different percussion instruments (congas, tambourine, maracas) and the dueling Grand Piano and Bass Guitar melody-line one by one until the drumset enters to introduce the Grand piano solo section. Soon the piece changes key from A Major to D Major for Betts's guitar solo. An establishing melody line at the end of the solo and another set of key changes brings the piece back to the original main theme, breaking down this time at the "chorus" section to end the piece.

The original version on "Brothers and Sisters" clocks in at 7:30, although there is a shortened single edit, which cuts out some of the main theme at the end of the piece, trimming it to 7:00 exactly. This version is the one heard on most classic rock radio stations, and any kind of various artist compilation on which "Jessica" has been featured. However, most Allman Brothers compilations use the full 7:30 version.

Dickey Betts wrote this instrumental piece as a tribute to Django Reinhardt, as it only uses two fingers in the guitar part. Reinhardt was a famous jazz guitarist who could only use two fingers in his playing as a result of a childhood injury.


This was the first Allman Brothers song recorded with new bassist Lamar Williams after the fatal motorcycle accident of Berry Oakley.

Although not successful as a single, topping out at #65 on the Billboard 100 charts, the song achieved considerable airplay on progressive rock and album oriented rock radio and helped make "Brothers and Sisters" a commercial success. Its critical success reached a culmination when a live version of "Jessica" won a Grammy Award in 1996, twenty-three years following its release, for Best Rock Instrumental Performance.

As previously mentioned, "Jessica" is often thought of as a driving song,Fact|date=February 2007 and it is for this reason that it had been used as the theme-tune to the British motoring television show "Top Gear" since 1977. As from 2002 the theme tune is a significantly reworked electronic version of the song. The record was also experimented with by Top Gear presenter James May by using a variety of car engine sounds moulded together in an attempt to reproduce the song's catchy tune.

Appearance in Pop Culture and Cover Albums

*The song was featured in the movie "Field of Dreams" and at the end of the movie Lassie (1994). It is also used as the opening theme song for the "Dr. Dean Edell" radio show.

*The alternative-rock group They Might Be Giants did a cover version of the song, which was released on their "Why Does The Sun Shine? (The Sun Is a Mass of Incandescent Gas)" EP.

*It was also featured in a series of commercials in 2004 for the supermarket chain Publix, usually featuring scenes of happy family picnics, but later on decided to pick a new song because it was old and it was too long for the commercial. Additionally, it has also been used in the "Local on the 8s" portion of The Weather Channel.

*More recently, the song was featured in the video game "Guitar Hero II", in the "Relentless Riffs" section of the PlayStation 2 version and in the "Return of the Shred" section of the Xbox 360 version. This version skips the piano solos and goes straight into the pickup before the first guitar solo.

*In television series, the song has been featured in "The Simpsons" episode Little Big Girl and the episode "Randy in Charge" of My Name is Earl. In addition, during the "Mystery Science Theater 3000" episode "The Thing That Couldn't Die", Tom Servo would mimic the first few bars whenever someone referred to a character named Jessica by name.

*Country band Shenandoah does a cover of Jessica at the end of their number one hit "I Got You".

*The song plays following every victory by the Toronto Maple Leafs.

*Chuck Leavell did an entirely piano cover version of the song on the "Southscape" album.

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