“Whipping Post” is a song by The Allman Brothers Band. Written by Gregg Allman, the five-minute studio version first appeared on their 1969 debut album The Allman Brothers Band. But the song’s full power only manifested itself in concert, when it was the basis for much longer and more intense performances.
On the Allman Brothers’ 1971 double live album At Fillmore East, a 22-minute version of the song takes up the entire final side. It was this recording that garnered “Whipping Post” spots on both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll list and Rolling Stone’s list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”.
Despite its length, the live “Whipping Post” received considerable progressive rock radio airplay during the early 1970s, especially late at night or on weekends. Such airplay led to “Whipping Post” becoming one of the band’s more familiar and popular songs, and would help give At Fillmore East its reputation as having, as The Rolling Stone Record Guide wrote in 1979, “no wasted notes, no pointless jams, no half-realized vocals—everything counts”, and of being, as Rolling Stone wrote in 2002, “the finest live rock performance ever committed to vinyl.” VH1 would say that “Whipping Post” was “what the band would become famous for, an endless climb of heightening drama staked out by the twin-guitar exorcisms of Duane and Dickey Betts and the cool, measured, almost jazz-like response of the rhythm section.”
The blues rock song’s lyrics center on a metaphorical whipping post, an evil woman and futile existential sorrow. Writer Jean-Charles Costa described the studio version’s musical structure as a “solid framework of a song that lends itself to thousands of possibilities in terms of solo expansion. … It is in modified 3/4 time, building to a series of shrieking lead guitar statements, and reaching full strength in the chorus supported by super dual-lead guitar.” The result was called by Rolling Stone an “enduring anthem … rife with tormented blues-ballad imagery”.