Although this song is most famously known as the third track on The Allman Brothers’ 1972 Eat a Peach album, it was actually written in 1967 by Gregg Allman, and first recorded in 1968 by a band called The 31st of February. The 31st of February was a band made up of Gregg and Duane Allman, who had joined the remnants of a band called The Bitter Ind. (which stood for Independents). One of the members of The Bitter Ind. and The 31st of February was drummer Butch Trucks, who would go on to co-create The Allman Brothers Band with Duane and Gregg Allman in 1969.
The song heard below is the version recorded by The Allman Brothers in 1971 and released on their 1972 Eat a Peach album. It was one of the three tracks on the album that didn't involve Duane, due to his death, and was thus also one of the first songs the group recorded without him. Regarding the choice of the name in the song, Gregg Allman has said that when he initially wrote the song, he wasn’t sure which female name to use. The name “Melissa” sprang on him as he stood in line at a grocery store and heard a mother calling out to her daughter, Melissa, to come back to her after wandering off too far.
The Allman Brothers Band - Melissa (1971)
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Seem to come and go, yeah
The gypsy flies from coast to coast
Knowing many, loving none
Bearing sorrow, having fun
But back home he'll always run
To sweet Melissa
Each car looks the same, all the same
And no one knows the gypsy's name
No one hears his lonely sigh
There are no blankets where he lies
In all his deepest dreams, the gypsy flies
With sweet Melissa
Again the morning's come
Again he's on the run
Sunbeams shining through his hair
Appearing not to have a care
Well, pick up your gear and gypsy roll on
Will you ever let him go? Lord, Lord
Will you hide the dead man's ghost?
Or will he lie beneath the clay?
Or will his spirit roll away?
But I know that he won't stay
Yes, I know that he won't stay