Episode 167: “The Weight” by The Band
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Episode one hundred and sixty-seven of A History of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs looks at “The Weight" by the Band, the Basement Tapes, and the continuing controversy over Dylan going electric. Click the full post to read liner notes, links to more information, and a transcript of the episode. Patreon backers also have a half-hour bonus episode available, on "S.F. Sorrow is Born" by the Pretty Things. Tilt Araiza has assisted invaluably by doing a first-pass edit, and will hopefully be doing so from now on. Check out Tilt’s irregular podcasts at http://www.podnose.com/jaffa-cakes-for-proust and http://sitcomclub.com/ Also, a one-time request here -- Shawn Taylor, who runs the Facebook group for the podcast and is an old and dear friend of mine, has stage-three lung cancer. I will be hugely grateful to anyone who donates to the GoFundMe for her treatment. Errata At one point I say "when Robertson and Helm travelled to the Brill Building". I meant "when Hawkins and Helm". This is fixed in the transcript but not the recording. Resources There are three Mixcloud mixes this time. As there are so many songs by Bob Dylan and the Band excerpted, and Mixcloud won’t allow more than four songs by the same artist in any mix, I’ve had to post the songs not in quite the same order in which they appear in the podcast. But the mixes are here — one, two, three. I’ve used these books for all the episodes involving Dylan: Dylan Goes Electric!: Newport, Seeger, Dylan, and the Night That Split the Sixties by Elijah Wald, which is recommended, as all Wald’s books are. Bob Dylan: All The Songs by Phillipe Margotin and Jean-Michel Guesdon is a song-by-song look at every song Dylan ever wrote, as is Revolution in the Air, by Clinton Heylin. Heylin also wrote the most comprehensive and accurate biography of Dylan, Behind the Shades. I’ve also used Robert Shelton’s No Direction Home, which is less accurate, but which is written by someone who knew Dylan. Chronicles Volume 1 by Bob Dylan is a partial, highly inaccurate, but thoroughly readable autobiography. Information on Tiny Tim comes from Eternal Troubadour: The Improbable Life of Tiny Tim by Justin Martell. Information on John Cage comes from The Roaring Silence by David Revill Information on Woodstock comes from Small Town Talk by Barney Hoskyns. For material on the Basement Tapes, I've used Million Dollar Bash by Sid Griffin. And for the Band, I've used This Wheel's on Fire by Levon Helm with Stephen Davis, Testimony by Robbie Robertson, The Band by Craig Harris and Levon by Sandra B Tooze. I've also referred to the documentaries No Direction Home and Once Were Brothers. The complete Basement Tapes can be found on this multi-disc box set, while this double-CD version has the best material from the sessions. All the surviving live recordings by Dylan and the Hawks from 1966 are on this box set. There are various deluxe versions of Music From Big Pink, but still the best way to get the original album is in this twofer CD with the Band's second album. Transcript Just a brief note before I start – literally while I was in the middle of recording this episode, it was announced that Robbie Robertson had died today, aged eighty. Obviously I've not had time to alter the rest of the episode – half of which had already been edited – with that in mind, though I don't believe I say anything disrespectful to his memory. My condolences to those who loved him – he was a huge talent and will be missed. There are people in the world who question the function of criticism. Those people argue that criticism is in many ways parasitic. If critics knew what they were talking about, so the argument goes, they would create themselves, rather than talk about other people's creation. It's a variant of the "those who can't, teach" cliche. And to an extent it's true. Certainly in the world of rock music, which we're talking about in this podcast,
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