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Posts Tagged ‘The Band’

We have become more and more numbed to the cascade of horrors that seem to take place on a regular basis here. But this week seemed worse than most, marked by dark and deadly deeds around this country. These acts were not done by 9 year old Honduran girls struggling on a highway 1000 miles away. Nor were they done by women who protested the Kavanaugh nomination nor blacks who demanded justice in the legal system. Nor was it football players kneeling on the sidelines during the National Anthem.

No, these were done by white men based on irrational prejudices and hatreds which allowed them to frame themselves as somehow being victims.

This week:

Two black adults were shot down in a Kentucky supermarket. The killer had attempted to enter a predominately black church just before he came to the supermarket. Fortunately, its doors were locked.

Early in the week, multiple pipe bombs were sent around the country to mainly political leaders who had spoken out against the actions of this administration. The man responsible was a fanatic follower of the president who attended his rallies and adorned his van with all sorts of right wing propaganda memes, including pictures of many of his targets with the cross-hairs of a gun superimposed over them. He was a rabid defender of the president* on social media.

Then yesterday, horror of horrors. Eleven Jewish congregants were killed by a gunman in The Tree of Life synagogue in the Pittsburgh neighborhood that Mr. Rogers called home. 6 other people, including 4 police officers, were also wounded by the man who had a history of hate speech in his social media accounts. In our long and bloody history, this was the deadliest shooting of Jews in America.

And in the midst of this horrible week, we had a president* who proudly proclaimed himself to be a nationalist at a rally. The term nationalist is most often associated with groups that believe in and demand a purely white racial identity for one’s country. They view all other races as being inferior, as being threats to their place in the social hierarchy. Undeserving takers.

They see themselves as victims and these others as scapegoats on which responsibility for most any problem can be heaped. While they believe that  nationalism is a term of strength, it is actually a term of weakness, of a culture of  seeing oneself as victim.

This is well known information, not obscure in any way. When he used that term, when he glorified that word, he knew what he was doing. He knew what triggers he was pulling among his base.

And if his ignorance is genuine, he is unfit to be in the office.

Regular readers know where I stand on that subject.

There is no coming together moment in sight nor do these nationalists desire that. This nationalist  president* continues to shamelessly spew a steady stream of incitement and an ever increasing litany of lies even as these tragic events unfold. He continues to portray himself as a victim even as he falsely poses as a strongman. He simply does not have the ability or the desire to unite this country.

And those who helped him get to this point– the moneyed interests and congress– are too invested, too implicated, and too morally weak to stem this tide of division. They will offer thoughts and prayers but nothing more.

Nothing.

The events that took place this week feel as though they could be the starting point for a new period of even greater horrors to come. At this point, our only recourse is to vote for a sweeping change in the government. That is the only chance we have to change the course on which we have been set.

It might well be our last chance.

Vote for change. If we don’t, the blood will be on all our hands.

Okay, this Sunday morning music is The Weight from The Band and The Staples Singers taken from the film The Last Waltz, directed by Martin Scorsese. Have a quiet Sunday and take a few moments from your day to think about those lives lost in Kentucky and Pittsburgh. And remember, you still have the power to change this.

Vote.

+++++++++++

 

 

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Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks (Later known as The Band)I spent ninety percent of my money on wine, women and song and just wasted the other ten percent.

–Ronnie Hawkins

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I wasn’t going to post anything today but while I was doing a few morning exercises a song came on that really sparked me.  I realized soon after that I had never played it on the blog which I found kind of remarkable since I consider it one of my favorites.  It’s a song called Come Love from the great Canadian  rocker Ronnie Hawkins.  I say Canadian because though he hails from Arkansas  he gained his greatest fame and settled down in Canada.

He played his music and lived his life on his own terms– that being hard and furious– from the 1950’s onward.  A lot of great musicians played behind him over the years as part of his band, The Hawks, most notably the entire group that later formed The Band.  You can see them in the photo above as they learned the chops that carried to their own greatness.  A renowned showman, Ronnie also was famed for his own version of the Moonwalk many years pre-Michael Jackson.

This song is not one of his hard chargers although its guitar lines do have a bite in them.  It has a really cool flow to it.  When  I hear it I think that it sounds how I would like to go through life, like a cool trickle of water in an easy flowing stream.

Just saying…

Give a listen and have a great day.

 

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It was announced yesterday that Levon Helm in is the “final stages” of the battle he has waged with throat cancer since 1996. Levon is best known as the drummer/vocalist for the legendary group that started in the eary 60’s as the backing band, The Hawks, for early rockabilly star Ronnie Hawkins and later came to fame as The Band behind Bob Dylan as he made the sometimes rocky transition from folk to rock.  On their own, The Band had a number of songs that have become classics over the years– The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, Up On Cripple Creek, The Weight, The Shape I’m In and so on.  Levon , guitarist Robbie Robertson  and organist Garth Hudson are the only remaining living  members of  The Band.

Levon Helm has also been acclaimed as an actor, best known for playing the father of Loretta Lynn in the movie Coal Miner’s Daughter.  His coal miner portrayal in the film had a dead-eyed authenticity that , for me, really made the entire movie seem alive.  It’s the same authenticity that he seems to bring to everything.  I always feel like I’m seeing the real person when I see Levon Helm, even when he’s a character in a film.

The Band-- Levon is 2nd from left.

His life after The Band has had ups and downs.  Following his initial battle with cancer, he found himself in dire financial straits with the weight of huge medical bills pulling him down.  He started hosting a series of concerts, called Midnight Rambles,  at his home/studio in Woodstock, NY in order to raise money to pay his bills.  Because of the damage done to his throat he relied on a series of high profile guests to sing until his voice was strong enough to begin to sing once more, which was several years later in 2004.  This series of concerts revitalized his career and led to his last three albums, Dirt Farmer, Electric Dirt and  Ramble at the Ryman, a live set recorded at the legendary Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.  Both Electric Dirt and Ramble at the Ryman won Grammy Awards in the Americana category.

As I said above, I always had the feeling that what you saw with Levon Helm was what you got. Natural, without artifice.  This world is going to miss the loss of  a real person, maybe the highest compliment of which I can conceive.  Good travels, Levon.

  Here’s one of my favorites from The Band, The Weight, shot in 1970 during the fabled Festival Express.

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There’s a three day concert that starts today in Watkins Glen, not too far from where I live, featuring three shows from the band Phish.  They have a large and faithful following and they’re expecting around 40 -50,000  folks to hear their jams at the racetrack there.  Watkins Glen is used to serious influxes of people into their little village tucked into the glens at the base of Seneca Lake, the largest of the Finger Lakes.  The track has a rich history of hosting Grand Prix and NASCAR races, with crowds often reaching 150,000.  The narrow two-laned roads leading to Watkins Glen are packed tight at these times.

But none of these crowds rivaled the one that came to the Glen back in July of 1973.   Organizers put on a concert featuring the Allman Brothers Band, the Grateful Dead and The Band and sold about 150,000 tickets.  Little did they know but 600,000 fans turned out.  All roads were impassable and people were parking on Rt. 17, around 15 miles from the track, and heading out on foot.  My brother and a friend took bikes and were able to make their way to the show on two wheels.  It was considered the largest crowd for a concert for some time.  One stat showed that one out of every 350 US citizens at the time were in attendance.

Of course, the organizers were not prepared for such a crowd, almost four times their largest estimate.  Food was scarce as were bathrooms.  There were several overdoses and a skydiver was killed when the flares he was holding set his jumpsuit ablaze as he descended.  People  were trying to recapture the magic of  Woodstock that had taken place a few years before but never quite succeeded, this show never attaining anything near that same aura of myth.

But for a couple of days, our local hills were filled with music of these three iconic bands.  Here’s a little taste of the Allman Brothers to put you in the mood of the time:

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GC Myers  The ListeningWell, I’m still on the road but I should be home and back in the studio tomorrow morning which is always a relief.  Back to the routine that I really like and can thrive in.

As I drive I listen to my iPod, usually just leaving it on shuffle so that anything can pop up.  Sometimes things come on that I haven’t heard in a while and it’s always a pleasant surprise.

Here’s one that always makes me wish I could sing.  It’s from Martin Scorsese’s The Last Waltz which is a documenting of The Band‘s last concert.  It’s a great film and this is a great version of The Weight with a lot of help from the Staple Singers.

Enjoy!

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GC Myers 2002There’s something in the air.  

Maybe it’s just the time of the year and the way everything looks here right now, all brown and gray with the snow having receded.  The bones of the trees look stark and even fragile.

Maybe that’s the word.  Fragile.  The world does seem very vulnerable at the moment and one can’t feel anything but helpless about their own ability to affect the direction of things.  And this sense of futility only fuels our fears and makes future prospects seem even more dire. 

I know this is only stating the obvious.  I certainly have no answers.  Who does?  When I hear the talking heads on CNN and CNBC, I realize they have no more answers than myself, only blather and an obnoxious, ignorant certainty that they indeed have the golden ticket.  

And then I feel even more helpless…

I know we can’t avoid the subject so I won’t even try.  In the spirit of this feeling that hangs in the atmosphere, here’s Neil Young singing with The Band from The Last Waltz, directed by Martin Scorsese  in 1978.  Here’s Helpless, a song that always gives me chills…

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