“A Soft Spot for The Band”

Gary Sauer-Thompson has a post with a link to a video of the late Richard Manuel singing "I Shall Be Released." This resonated with me because I just finished reading John Nivin's novella Music From Big Pink, which is a lightly fictionalized account of the period during which The Band recorded their first album. (The novella reads a little like a romance novel for aging rock fans, but I found it strangely affecting.) Nivin's story has a particularly poignant account of Richard Manuel's contribution to the music. Gary's comments don't seem to be working, so I'll post what I wrote here:

Richard Manuel looks so old in that video & Robertson looks so young. As for Dylan in academia, you'll be happy to hear I'm doing a bit on him in my Literature of American Popular Music course next semester. If you want to get a sense of Dylan's roots in American traditional music -- similar to The Band's -- try listening to World Gone Wrong & Good as I Been to You. In Chronicles, Dylan talks about developing a sense of "folksong logic" early in his career, while he was still roughing it in Greenwich Village & listening to the Harry Smith anthology records. The songs on these "roots" records represent Dylan's real return to form, I think. (Speaking of Chronicles, what other pop star would use the the name of one of the books of the bible as the title of his autobiography?)

Author: jd

Joseph Duemer is Professor of Literature Emeritus at Clarkson University in northern New York state. His most recent book of poems is Magical Thinking from Ohio State University Press. Since the mid-1990s he has spent a good deal of time in Vietnam, mostly Hanoi. He lives with his wife Carole & five terriers (four Jack Russells & one Patterdale) on the stony bank of the Raquette River in South Colton.

3 thoughts on ““A Soft Spot for The Band””

  1. I suppose it was only a matter of time before I “discovered” THE BAND and I did, this year, BIG TIME.

    Anyway, it is worth every penny of the $150 for you to go spend a saturday night in Levon’s barn in Woodstock during one of his MIDNIGHT RAMBLES.

    Do it in the winter, when there’s a fire blazing in the fireplace.

  2. off target tangentially: I just watched the other side of the mirror, Bob Dylan at New Port 1963,64, and 65. I thoroughly enjoyed it except for the Baez /Dylan Duets. They sound like wounded animals. A must for Dylan fans.

    thelrd in TEXAS

  3. Hey, Larry, good to have you drop by again. I own a whole shelf full of Dylan’s records — I agree that the duets with Baez are not great (though they are the appearances that launched Dylan’s career), not because they sound like wounded animals, but because the voices just don’t work together in terms of vocal qualities. They’re just too different. Even “Mama, You Been on My Mind,” which should work on an emotional level, really doesn’t come through.

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