Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Man Behind The Drums

Asked what band he would want to join, Eric Clapton said The Band.   They were the quintessential American musical group who looking back birthed an entire genre of music.  Robbie Robertson wrote the songs and Richard Manuel was their soul but Levon Helm was their heart.  We've all known this day would come as he has been battling cancer off and on since the late 90's but the news today still hits home really hard.  I've never met Levon, but he has been a big part of my life through his music for over 35 years.

When I was a kid in the 70's it was all about Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith.  Then I saw The Last Waltz on HBO around '78 and my musical journey changed forever.  Who the hell are these old guys (that's pretty funny looking back) and why haven't I heard this music before.  My parents were vast musical wastelands so it was by accident that I heard all of these great sounds.  I was hooked and it led me to so many other great artists over the years, but I kept coming back to the Band time and again.  I was hooked from the first song...

These guys made a sound that uniquely American music and Levon in particular was, for me, the voice. I bought it all from Big Pink right up to The Last Waltz and I've been playing the crap out of them ever since.

One of my big music regrets is that I was too young to ever see them live. I was so excited a couple of years back to catch Levon and his Ramble band a couple of times. It may not have been the same but it was, well it was wonderful. His voice was pretty shot by this point but the joy and love came shining through. My family had been playing Electric Dirt pretty heavily at the time. My son is still singing Tennessee Jed...he thought it was one of his because when Levon sang one he owned it.

I really don't have the ability to put into words how much Levon has meant to me over the years. A true American treasure that won't soon be forgotten. If you don't know this already you have some catching up to do.  Rest In Peace Levon.

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