Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Levon Helm

There is no way around it, rock and roll would not have been the same without Levon Helm. He was a true artist who wanted nothing more than to play good music and make people happy. I think it's safe to say he did just that. When I found out that Levon was sick--not the normal sick stuff, but the "last stages of his battle with cancer" stuff, I immediately felt like my heart was breaking into pieces. I had just seen this man and his band in Woodstock, NY not even five months ago. I knew he suffered from throat cancer and various other problems that come about when your 71, but I always thought Levon would pull through. I had plans to go to Woodstock again and attend another legendary Midnight Ramble. I wanted to stand in the balcony of his barn and look down on the greatest singer/drummer of all time. I can only hope that his friends and family will continue to carry on the Rambles in honor of him.

Levon passed away five days ago--and I cannot shake this feeling of sadness. There have been very few artists that I have an attachment with who have passed away while I was of the age to really get it. Sure there have been some incredibly talented artists who were taken away too soon, but none of them had the affect on me that Levon had. I was 13 when George Harrison lost his battle with cancer, and it was the age that I was really just starting to love The Beatles--so it was sad, but it wasn't until after he died that I really formed by bond with the band. Levon was the first artist who I saw live who passed away. When I was at that Ramble I knew I could never experience anything else like it. The Band's music just got to me. I respected them and appreciated them for who they became. They were honest, hard working men and I truly believe the greatest of them all was Levon. After that Ramble I felt like I knew him. Like he was an old friend who asked me to come to his house for some food, drinks and music. 

The Facebook and Twitter posts from musicians, fans, and his friends and family continued to bring tears to my eyes. There has been an overwhelming amount of articles written about him and his influence on music. Even though he was not a fan of "The Last Waltz," I couldn't help but to watch it last night. Watching him singing and drumming--you can't help but to get a smile on your face. Mainly because he's smiling the entire time! You could see the love and passion for music just oozing out of him. I remember reading that he loved the drummers spot--you could see the band and the fans and watch the reaction from both. He sure knew how to hold down the back beat and make people dance. 

Looking back on what Levon's accomplished in life makes his passing just a bit easier. He had success from a young age, then continued on until his 70s by making his own music with The Levon Helm Band--all three albums won a Grammy award. His Rambles were the essence of rock and roll. I truly believe I chose to attend the best Ramble there's ever been. When I first heard Dawes I immediately thought "thank you." Thank you for reminding me that real music does exist. When I saw Dawes was opening up for Levon I knew that was it--this was the Ramble I needed to go to. To my surprise, along with Dawes I also got Jackson Browne, Jimmy Vivino, Donald Fagen, and Garth Hudson! At only 23 years of age I got to witness 2 out of the 3 living members of The Band sing together! What an honor and privilege for a music fan. That memory will be with me forever. 

Levon's passing shook the music community. But it's safe to say that the tributes, thoughts and love for his music will never go away. We were lucky to have such a great man around for so long. He will live on forever through his music. So don't stop listening, and certainly don't stop dancing when you hear that beat. Take a load off, Levon.

The Weight.
Atlantic City.

Here is my post on my visit to the site of Woodstock and to Levon's Midnight Ramble.

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