Thursday, April 19, 2012

Thoughts on Levon Helm

As I've mentioned at least a hundred times, music is basically my life source. I was born into and born with it running through my blood. From both sides.

My maternal grandmother played piano by ear. My maternal grandfather had a lovely singing voice. My Mom claims she had a great voice when she was young. ;) 
My Aunt Judy on my Dad's side is a beautiful singer, as is her daughter (my cousin, obviously). My Dad is a pretty good singer, too. I just don't think he knows it.
My brother is one helluva musician. I've only mentioned that a couple times. Haha. 
And, I've been know to sing a few notes myself. I was performing and doing musicals and recitals since the age of 8.

But it was more than that. 

I was born into a family of two parents who love music probably as much as they love me. My earliest childhood memories have soundtracks. GREAT soundtracks. An array of the best of the best from the 50's, 60's and 70's filled the air in my home growing up. My parents, between the two of them, had hundreds of records. But they each had their favorites. My Mom always had a soft spot for Motown and, of course, her beloved Beatles. My Dad was more about the classic rock and jam bands like The Who and The Grateful Dead. And then there was...The Band. I don't know when exactly it happened, but soon I knew all the words and was a fan in my own right. Frankie and I were harmonizing to every song. Soon I was reading and listening to things about the members of these bands I'd grown to love, through my parents. Levon Helm was always a special one. He brought such a uniqueness to his drumming, and his voice was piercing and poignant. Many would say he revolutionized music. I would agree. I even named my car Ophelia! I read a quote from Wilco's Jeff Tweedy on a friend's Facebook page that really said it best: "Levon was the glue, not just in The Band, but in all of what people think of when they think of North American music." - Jeff Tweedy

But I always thought Frankie and I were...different. Most of our friends didn't know or appreciate those old bands. I'll never forget the night that Frankie and I were at a Stoney LaRue and Friends show at The White Elephant years ago. There were maybe 25 people there. (Told you - YEARS ago.) Stoney called all the musicians on stage and soon, a familiar melody filled the air. (I believe Stoney said something like "If you don't know this song, you ought to.") Frankie and I looked at each other with excitement. They were playing The Weight. We knew every word...and so did everyone else in the room. It was a magical moment for me. They had successfully transcended yet another generation of music lovers.

So, I sit here with tears running down my face as I watch my personal favorite performance of the great Levon Helm. 

Now, take a load off, Levon. And RIP.

1 comment:

  1. Once again, your poignant writing has given me tears and goosebumps.