Friday, June 12, 2009

That Thin Wild Mercury Sound

The Band, Saint Paul Minnesota, 1971

Levon Helm returned to Saint Paul last night, almost thirty eight years after the picture above was taken. Life for a musician is never easy, Levon and his "Band"-mates have had their share of trials. Richard Manuel (not pictured) and Rick Danko are both gone, while guitarist Robbie Robertson has been MIA for years. Garth Hudson gigs from time to time- session work with Norah Jones and others- but Levon is still drumming and playing in a band, whether at his place in upstate New York or out on the road. A bout with throat cancer left him mute for several years, he's recovered enough to be able to sing again. His reputation secure, he can play when and what he wants to now. Old time, Band tunes, even the stuff the Band played with Dylan:
"It's that thin, that wild mercury sound.
It's metallic and bright gold,
with whatever that conjures up."

-Bob Dylan

Whatever that conjures up indeed. A lifetime of magic.

By Professor Batty


Anonymous Jon said...

Lucky you! I still get misty at the end of The Last Waltz.

Blogger Darien Fisher-Duke said...

Picked out the tunes and reads for your river trip, Batty?

Blogger Professor Batty said...

Jon~ I didn't actually attend Levon's concert (although I was at the 1971 show- that's my picture.) I worked with a band the played a lot of THE BAND'S material- always an inspiration.

Rose ~ We'll have a cabin, so probably lots of old-time (Harry Smith Anthology type stuff) and maybe a little Sigur Rós. I'm about halfway through three books by Jhumpa Lahiri, I'll probably finish the third one before we go, I just can't think that far ahead...

Anonymous Dave said...

I was at Levon's show last week, and what a show it was! Part Grand Old Oprey, part Last Waltz!

Where was The Band photo taken? St. Kates? Parade Stadium?

Blogger Professor Batty said...

Dave ~ It was at the old Midway Stadium (on the other side of Snelling.) Muddy Waters, Paul Butterfield, Crow and John Sebastien were on that bill.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great picture of the Band. Mind if I share it with The Band official website?

Blogger Professor Batty said...

Anon ~ Sure, send me an address, I have more.

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