Thursday, 19 April 2012

Levon Helm

"The whole congregation was standing on the banks of the river
We are gathered here to give a little thanks..."
The River Hymn by The Band

Very sad to hear today of the passing of the great Levon Helm, singer, drummer and mandolin player with The Band. Levon was the Arkansas-born Rebel who gave a gritty authenticity to Robbie Robertson's sepia-toned dreams of the Old South in such wonderful songs as The Weight, Up On Cripple Creek and, of course, The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down. The trademark Band combination of Levon's tough, forceful style with Rick Danko's heartfelt, country vocals and Richard Manuel's blue-eyed soul stylings gave their best songs a magic unlike any other. I've written about what The Band's music means to me over at 15 Albums so I won't repeat myself here. I'll just say that Levon was a unique and inspiring musician who, against the odds, fought a brave battle with illness for many years, and continued to play and sing when many others would have given up, even winning a Grammy for his Dirt Farmer album at the age of 67.

"You take what you need and you leave the rest
But you should never have taken the very best..."

Mark Lavon ( "Levon" ) Helm
26th May 1940 to 19th April 2012


Simayl said...

I love The Band and mourn the loss of Levon, in addition to his wonderful singing we will miss his unmistakable drumming. I remember seeing an Elvis Costello meets in which Levon had lost his voice so he let his drums do the talking for him. Forget your twenty minute drum solos Levon would astound you in four bars.

cerebus660 said...

Hi Simayl! Thanks for commenting and thanks for Following - I love your "Killraven" profile pic!

You're spot on about Levon. Somebody ( I forget who ) once said that he was the only drummer whose music could make you cry. Very true.


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