Alright. Having thought about last week’s post about Desert Island Discs, I’ve decided that I am going to try to do my own Desert Island Discs list, because of reasons. Mostly, I think it will be fun to try to nail it down, one way or the other. And maybe see what the also-rans are as well.
So. Eight discs, huh.
Well, my first disc is easy peasy. A no brainer, actually. This song has been important to me since I don’t know when, and probably will be until I die. It’s “The Weight” by southern Ontario’s own, The Band.
The video’s nonexistent but the song comes from before the time of videos so… you simply get audio instead. And it is brilliant.
But, if you need video, here’s another incredibly different and yet still gorgeous version from The Band’s contentious concert film, The Last Waltz. Because there’s Levon. And holy hell, The Staples Singers. OH EM GEE.:
I can’t really explain what this song means to me. It’s not like it’s connected to any particular memories or has any great meaning in that way — although it was in The Big Chill and for a long time, I loved that film. I think the best way to explain this song is that it takes a load off me when I need it. Just like the lyric says.
When I was in university, particularly when I was in the States and it was just a daily living hell, I would come home, turn the song up loud, and just try to wash away all the turmoil and crap I was going through. Later in life, when I was having a bad day at work, I would do the same — lay down on my bed and play it loud and often.
It helped to take away some of the stress and anger and negative feelings. And made me feel a little at peace afterwards.
Nowadays, it still helps take the weight off, but I don’t have the stress and conflict that I used to. Still, when I can’t sleep, or when I’ve had A Day, I will climb into bed and listen to it, loudly but on my iPod, in the dark. On repeat. Usually after 4 or 5 repeats, whatever’s been bothering me is gone from my brainmeats, or I am tired enough to doze off.
And listening to it in the dark, on headphones, loudly, I appreciate now more than ever how absolutely brilliant a group of musicians the members of The Band really were. I can listen to every perfect drumbeat from Levon Helm, with his incredibly powerful but relaxing vocal. I have come to listen for the soulful sweet harmonies Richard Manuel brings. I love the natural, slightly rough edge of Rick Danko’s vocal. I realize that after 30 years of hearing this song, it’s only now that I really appreciate the atmosphere that Garth Hudson’s piano brings to it, the character and nuance I had never noticed before. And I have forgiven Robbie Robertson for being part of what tore the band apart, and adore his songwriting as much as ever.
I love every note, every word of this song. Absolutely love it.
Last year, when Levon died, I bawled. I watched videos and The Last Waltz and I absolutely bawled like a child. It’s hard to realize that one by one, these men who have made music that meant so much to me are leaving, but Levon most of all. His voice meant so much to me. He sang to me in the dark and the dark days.
So I would have to have it with me on my desert island for all of those reasons, if not simply for the fact that it is an almost perfect piece of rock music history.
And, because they are Canadian (well, except for Levon), it helps make sure I have the required percentage of CanCon listening on my island. (I’ll probably need another Canadian song to fulfill that requirement, now that I think about it. Uh oh.)
So there’s one down. Seven more songs to go. Six of them will not be so easy.