Midnight Rider

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Midnight Rider is a song first recorded on the Allman Brothers Band’s second album Idlwild South, in 1970).

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Well, I’ve got to run to keep from hiding
And I’m bound to keep on riding
And I’ve got one more silver dollar
But I’m not gonna let ’em catch me, no
Not gonna let ’em catch the midnight rider

I don’t own the clothes I’m wearing
And the road goes on forever
And I’ve got one more silver dollar
But I’m not gonna let ’em catch me, no
Not gonna let ’em catch the midnight rider

I’ve gone by the point of caring
Some old bed I hope to be sharing
And I’ve dropped one more silver dollar
But I’m not gonna let them catch me, no
Not gonna let ’em catch the midnight rider

No, I’m not gonna let em catch me, no
Not gonna let them catch the midnight rider
No no no no

Episode Reference

“Midnight Rider” is about a man who rides a horse while running from the law in a journey that goes on forever.1 In episode 11 Captain Daily says to his co-pilot, that he thinks himself to be like “a cowboy”. He then adds, “The plane’s my horse, and the sky an open desert”(111.1).

Moments later, Flight 828 experiences turbulence and the plane is transported 5 1/2 years into the future. After the passengers land, Captain Daly is interrogated by NSA Director Robert Vance who tells him the government’s National Transportation Safety Board (NTBS) blames him for the incident saying he “made a series of unconventional maneuvers” (111.1).

Therefore, when viewers see Daly and Ben blazing down the road as “Midnight Rider” plays on the car’s radio, the song’s lyrics offer a fitting backdrop to Daly’s lines of dialogue in the scene which wreak of desperation and determination. He tells Ben how the government and media have put him through hell for something he had no control of, and how he has even lost his son and wife who won’t even to talk to him (111.15).

As the music in the background gets louder, we hear…

🎵 No, I’m not gonna let them catch me, 🎵
🎵 no not gonna let them catch… 🎵

Meaning and Significance

The lyrics underscore that Daly is a man on the run. Nothing proves this more than when two Air National Guard jets go after him near the end of the episode (111.19). Moreover, hearing these get-me-out-of-here lyrics just as a plane lands on a runway and seeing Daly’s car pass by, underscores Daly’s metaphor that his “horse” is a plane, and suggests that the only way out will indeed be “the sky.”

Just as “Midnight Rider” repeats a line about “holding on to a silver dollar” which is a sign of hope, in this episode Captain Daly’s “pilot’s wings” serve a similar purpose, albeit, exploring hope from a different angle (i.e. the framework of the series mythology).

Early in the episode, when Cal asks Daly if he has any wings to give him, he says, “Sorry, kiddo. Uh, they just got clipped.” (111.1) Then, near the end of the episode after Daly seems to have gone into the future (or past, or different dimension, etc), Ben finds a package at the door. Daly mailed Cal a set of wings with a note, “Better late than never.” (111.21)

What changed? When Daly broke through the time barrier, he found hope again. But what does that mean or what that looks like remains to be seen? Does Daly sacrifice himself? Is that how he earns his wings back? Does the plane crash or blow up in another time period with only Fiona surviving? Will she reemerge as a darker Fiona 2.0?

Even if Daly’s horse (plane) ride doesn’t last forever, as the iconic line of “Midnight Rider” suggests, now that his Pilot’s Wings have been passed on to Cal, and Daly has passed on his role of Captain to Ben, fans of the series hope that the series will continue, if not forever, for at least another 3-5 seasons.

  1. cf. Rick Moore’s article Gregg Allman, “Midnight Rider

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Midnight Rider (Wikipedia)
"Midnight Rider"
Midnight Rider.jpg
Single by The Allman Brothers Band
from the album Idlewild South
B-side"Whipping Post"
ReleasedMarch 26, 1971 (1971-03-26)
The Allman Brothers Band singles chronology
"Revival (Love Is Everywhere)"
"Midnight Rider"
"Ain't Wastin' Time No More"
Audio sample

"Midnight Rider" is a song by the American rock band the Allman Brothers Band. It was the second single from their second studio album, Idlewild South (1970), released on Capricorn Records. The song was primarily written by vocalist Gregg Allman, who first began composing it at a rented cabin outside Macon, Georgia. He enlisted the help of roadie Robert Kim Payne to complete the song's lyrics. He and Payne broke into Capricorn Sound Studios to complete a demo of the song.

While the original Allman Brothers release of the song did not chart, "Midnight Rider" was much more successful in cover versions. Gregg Allman's solo version of the song, released in 1973, was its biggest chart success; it was a top 20 hit in the U.S. and Canada. A cover by Jamaican singer, Paul Davidson, represented its biggest peak in the United Kingdom, where it hit number ten. Country artist Willie Nelson also recorded a version of the song that peaked at number six on U.S. country charts.

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