Levon Helm, drummer for The Band passed on the other day. Here is a link to his NYT obit. I liked the comment that he made about the success of The Band in the late sixties. He said it was a revolution from the revolution. The Beatles had just revolutionized pop music with a hip, breezy urban sound. The Band celebrated that they were from the country and rooted in the past. You see that in this rather famous photo (from Cleveland Does not Rock). Notice how nature intrudes into the composition
You might compare the above with this famous image of the Beatles strutting their stuff (from Second Views)
We move from country to city. But there is more to it. The Beatles actually don’t want to fit into the urban landscape. They want instead to stop traffic if just for a moment. By way of contrast, The Band do seem to fit into their natural setting much better. But whether they want to “fit” or not, the Beatles definitely want to be in the urban setting — and in your face so to speak for the moment. In that vein, I also like the contrast between The Band standing still in front of the camera and The Beatles giving a side view walking across the street. Rooted versus not rooted?
Well, back to the point. The Band’s updated country style influenced quite a few musicians who then made a lot of very good music. My favorites were the New Riders and the Grateful Dead. The links go to some good tunes. And here is Levon singing for The Band.
So thanks Levon! You done good!