Friday, April 20, 2012

Levon Helm and the Band

I guess today's Friday music post should be devoted to the passing of Levon Helm. I can't say that The Band have ever been a group I couldn't live without, but they were, how to put it - a band that you always seem to live with. They were always there, always in the corners, always sounding right. The ultimate termite band, if that makes any sense. It's as true of their music itself as of their place in the musical culture - songs, and musicians, who seem to slowly surround you. Familiar and unobtrusive, but fundamental - their songs feel like something you have heard all your life - like the Feelies, everything they do sounds like a song you heard somewhere and half forgot. Which was probably literally true for the Band - those songs were on the radio when I was a kid and not paying much attention, and when I heard them later, they probably were as much revived memories as something new. But still.

Now Levon Helm has died, giving the world a chance to put The Band front and center for a while, and marvel is how great they were. And him - it is his voice I think of when I think of them - his songs, however democratic a band they may have been.

Cripple Creek:

The Night they drove old Dixie down, from the Last Waltz:

The Weight, live in Toronto:

And finally, a bit different - starting with The Weight, but continuing, through a set with Dylan at the Isle of Wight:

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