Thursday, April 19, 2012

Levon Helm R.I.P.

I guess it’s just one of those weeks. Levon Helm was one of the great American drummers, as well as one of the great vocalists of his era. I know that Robbie Robertson wrote most of The Band’s songs, but no one will ever be able to convince me that Levon Helm wasn’t the band’s true voice.

To quote Dave Marsh:

When the Band speaks best, most clearly, it almost always uses Levon Helm's voice. In "The Weight," Rick Danko sings just one verse and Levon takes that away from him with a yowled "Yeah!" that's among the three or four greatest interjections in the history of rock (a.k.a the history of musical interjection). It is Helm's voice, dripping with southern-bred bitterness, that makes "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" genuinely tragic. It could be argued that in Helm, [Robbie] Robertson found his perfect vehicle. But maybe it was Helm who found in the more glib and articulate Robertson a marvelous mouthpiece. Who whispered the secrets of the American Dream in Robertson's young ear as he drifted through the Ozark wilderness? Who pointed him toward that wilderness in the first place? 

Levon Helm. R.I.P.

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