Skateaway ~ Dire Straits

Mark Knopfler of Dire StraitsDire Straits was a British rock band, formed in 1977 by Mark Knopfler (guitar and vocals), his brother David Knopfler (guitar), John Illsley (bass), and Pick Withers (drums), and subsequently managed by Ed Bicknell. Although the band was formed in an era when punk rock reigned, Dire Straits worked within the conventions of classic rock, albeit with a stripped-down sound that appealed to modern audiences weary of the overproduced stadium rock of the 1970s. In their early days, Mark and David requested that pub owners turn down the amps so that patrons could converse while the band played – indicative of their unassuming demeanor. Despite this oddly self-effacing approach to rock and roll, Dire Straits soon became hugely successful.

Dire Straits chose their name mainly due to the financial conditions the four band members were in at the time.

Skateaway

Skateaway” is a 1980 rock song by Dire Straits, dealing with a female roller-skater breezing through busy city streets, while listening to a portable radio through her headphones. It appears on the band’s 1980 album Making Movies. Released as a single in 1981, the song was accompanied by a video that was popular on MTV, featuring musician Jayzik Azikiwe as Rollergirl, though she was credited as Jay Carly in the video.

Skateaway - Mark Knopfler

I seen a girl on a one-way corridor
Stealin’ down a wrong-way street
For all the world like an urban toreador
She had wheels on her feet – on her feet
Well the cars do the usual dances
Same old cruise and the curbside crawl
But the rollergirl – she’s takin’ chances
Just love to see her take them on

No fears, alone at night – she’s sailing through the crowd
In her ears the phones are tight and the music’s playin’ loud

Hallelujah – here she comes – Queen Roller Ball
Enchante – what can I say? Carry on
You know she used to have to wait around
She used to be the lonely one
But now that she been skatin’ around town
She’s the only one

No fears, alone at night – she’s sailing through the crowd
In her ears the phones are tight and the music’s playin’ loud

She gets rock n roll, from the rock n roll station
In a rock n roll dream
She’s making movies on location
She don’t know what it means
And the music make her wanna be the story
And the story was whatever was the song – what it was
Rollergirl – don’t worry
DJ play the movies – all night long

She tortures taxi drivers just for fun
She like to read their lips
Says: “Toro, toro, taxi – see ‘ya tomorrow my son – ”
She just let a big truck graze her hip
She got her own world in the city – yeah!
Ain’t that true – Lord I know -
She got her own world in the city
The city’s bein’ so… rude to her

Slippin’ and a-slidin’
Yeah, life’s a roller ball
Slippin’ and a-slidin’
Skateaway – that’s all
Skateaway
Shala shalay, hey hey, skateaway
She’s singin’ shala shalay, hey hey
Skateaway

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Nothing Else Matters ~ Metallica

Metalica was formed in 1981 when drummer Lars Ulrich posted an advertisement in a Los Angeles paper called The Recycler looking for musicians who were interested in forming a band.

The original members consisted of Ulrich, James Hetfield, Dave Mustaine and Ron McGovney. Mustaine and McGovney were later kicked out of the band and replaced by Kirk Hammet and Cliff Burton. Burton was killed when the tour bus skidded out of control and was later replaced by Jason Newsted, who eventually was replaced by Robert Trujillo.

Metalica is considered the pioneer of “thrash metal”, and some critics consider their 1986 release of Master of Puppets to be one of the most influential and heavy “thrash metal” albums.

Nothing Else Matters

“Nothing Else Matters” is a power ballad by the American heavy metal band Metallica. It was released as the third single from their self-titled fifth studio album, Metallica.

Singer and rhythm guitarist James Hetfield wrote the song (credited to Hetfield/Ulrich) while he was on the phone with his then girlfriend. Since he held the phone with one hand, he plucked the four open strings of a standard E-minor chord with the other, which eventually made up the first two bars of the song. The lyrics, which talk about being “so close, no matter how far”, were also dedicated to his girlfriend, indicating the bond they shared even when Hetfield was on tour. Initially, the song was not meant to be released, as Hetfield had written it for himself, but after drummer Lars Ulrich heard it, it was considered for the album.


Nothing Else Matters - Hetfield, Ulrich

So close no matter how far
Couldn’t be much more from the heart
Forever trust in who we are
And nothing else matters

Never opened myself this way
Life is ours, we live it our way
All these words I don’t just say
And nothing else matters

Trust I seek and I find in you
Every day for us something new
Open mind for a different view
And nothing else matters

Never cared for what they do
Never cared for what they know
And I know

So close no matter how far
Couldn’t be much more from the heart
Forever trusting who we are
And nothing else matters

Never cared for what they do
Never cared for what they know
And I know

I never opened myself this way
Life is ours, we live it our way
All these words I don’t just say
And nothing else matters

Trust I seek and I find in you
Every day for us something new
Open mind for a different view
And nothing else matters

Never cared for things they say
Never cared for games they play
I’d never cared for what they do
I’d never cared for what they know
And I know

Yeah!

So close no matter how far
Couldn’t be much more from the heart
Forever trust in who we are
And nothing else matters

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The Chain ~ Fleetwood Mac

fleetwood-macFleetwood Mac are a British/American rock band formed in 1967, that have experienced a high turnover of personnel and varied levels of success. From the band’s inception through the end of 1974, no incarnation of Fleetwood Mac lasted as long as two years.

The only member present in the band from the very beginning is its namesake drummer Mick Fleetwood. Bassist John McVie, despite his giving part of his name to the band, did not play on their first single nor at their first concerts. Keyboardist Christine McVie has, to date, appeared on all but two albums, either as a member or as a session musician. She also supplied the artwork for the album Kiln House.

The two most successful periods for the band were during the late 1960s British blues boom, when they were led by guitarist Peter Green; and from 1975-87, with more pop-orientation, featuring Christine McVie, Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks. The band enjoyed more modest success in the intervening period between 1971 and 1974, with the line-up that included Bob Welch, and also during the 1990s which saw more personnel changes before the return of Nicks and Buckingham in 1997, and more recently, the departure of Christine McVie.

The Chain

“The Chain” is a song from Fleetwood Mac’s best-selling album Rumours. “The Chain” is unique in being the only song credited to all five members of the Rumours-era Fleetwood Mac lineup: Lindsey Buckingham, Mick Fleetwood, Christine McVie, John McVie, Stevie Nicks; this is partly due to the fact that John McVie and Mick Fleetwood are generally not songwriters. The band has used the song as a signature, citing the lyric, “Never break the chain.”

According to interviews on the writing of Rumours, the final section of “The Chain” – beginning with a bass progression – was created by John McVie and Mick Fleetwood. It seemed like an ending, not a beginning. Stevie Nicks had written the lyrics separately and thought they would be a good match; she and Christine McVie did some reworking to create the first section of the tune. To complete the song, Lindsey Buckingham recycled the intro from an earlier Buckingham/Nicks song – “Lola My Love”, originally released on their eponymous 1973 album. Thanks to its use as a TV theme (for the BBC’s Formula One coverage), the ending bass line is one of the most recognizable in the world, and although not released as a single, it does get air play.

The start of the studio version of this song has, in a very quiet whisper, the word “fuck”. This can only be heard on tracks released on CD. Because of the limited dynamic range, it is not audible on the original vinyl LP, cassette or 8-track releases.


The Chain – Buckingham, Fleetwood, McVie, Nicks

Listen to the wind blow, watch the sun rise

Run in the shadows
Damn your love, damn your lies

And if you don’t love me now
You will never love me again
I can still hear you saying you would never break the chain
And if you don’t love me now
You will never love me again
I can still hear you saying you would never break the chain

Listen to the wind blow, down comes the night

Run in the shadows
Damn your love, damn your lies

Break the silence
Damn the dark, damn the light

And if you don’t love me now
You will never love me again
I can still hear you saying you would never break the chain
And if you don’t love me now
You will never love me again
I can still hear you saying you would never break the chain
And if you don’t love me now
You will never love me again
I can still hear you saying you would never break the chain

Chain…keeps us together
(run into the shadows)
Chain…keeps us together
(run into the shadows)
Chain…keeps us together
(run into the shadows)

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Oats In The Water ~ Ben Howard

ben-howardBen Howard  is an English singer-songwriter.

He was born in West London in 1987 and moved to Totnes, Devon when he was about eight. He was raised by musical parents who exposed him to their favorite records from singer-songwriter artists from the 1960s and 1970s at an early age, such as John Martyn, Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell and Simon & Garfunkel, by whom he was strongly influenced.

Howard began writing songs when he was around ten or eleven. In an interview with American Songwriter, he stated that when he was a kid he started playing guitar because he liked to put words together and make stuff up. “I was quite an imaginative little kid I guess. So your standard little love songs turned into your standard adolescent love songs. I think you start getting your own take on things when you’re a late teen. That’s when everything changes.” After attending King Edward VI Community College and Torquay Boys’ Grammar School and then a short stint studying Journalism at University College Falmouth, Cornwall, Howard decided to focus on making music full-time, making melodic rootsy folk music, with progressively darker lyrics. His reputation grew around Cornwall and Devon, and soon spread to other areas of the UK. After a month of sold-out dates across Europe and the UK Howard was eventually asked to sign for Island Records.

Oats In The Water

Oats In the Water,” a haunting track off Howard’s 2012 EP The Burgh Island, shows off his wavering vocals combined with slowed electric guitar distortion. As the song picks up speed and the music crescendos to tell a somber tale of darkness and loneliness, his depth as a musician is apparent. According to Howard, the track came about in a rather unconventional way.

“I was in Morocco and I had a fever,” he told Radio.com. “I ended up writing ‘Oats In the Water’ over those few days in a basement with natural light in Morocco. That song came out of it. All the songs [on The Burgh Island E.P.] came from really weird places. Hopefully the second album will be a little happier. It’s been nice to have that freedom and play what I want.”

He continued: “I had a fairly good upbringing. People ask me where I get some of the melancholy songs from. I don’t really know to be honest.”

Oats In The Water – Ben Howard

Go your way,
I’ll take the long way ’round,
I’ll find my own way down,
As I should.

And hold your gates
As croak in the midas touch
A joke in the way that we rust,
And breathe again.

And you’ll find loss
And you’ll fear what you found
When weather comes
Tear him down

There’ll be oats in the water
There’ll be birds on the ground
There’ll be things you never asked her
Oh how they tear at you now

Go your way,
I’ll take the long way ’round,
I’ll find my own way down,
As I should.

And hold your gates
As croak in the midas touch
A joke in the way that we rust,
And breathe again.

And you’ll find loss
And you’ll fear what you found
When weather comes
Tear him down

There’ll be oats in the water
There’ll be birds on the ground
There’ll be things you never asked her
Oh how they tear at you now

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Youth of the Nation ~ P. O. D.

POD-2011-Current-Press-PhotoPayable on Death (abbreviated as P.O.D.) is an American Christian nu metal band formed in 1992. The band’s line-up consists of vocalist Sonny Sandoval, drummer Wuv Bernardo, guitarist Marcos Curiel, and bassist Traa Daniels. They have released six major label studio albums along with two independent albums and have sold over 12 million records worldwide. Over the course of their career, the band has received three Grammy Award nominations, contributed to numerous motion picture soundtracks and toured internationally. With their third studio album, The Fundamental Elements of Southtown, they achieved their initial mainstream success; the album was certified Platinum by the RIAA in 2000. Their following studio album, Satellite, continued the band’s success with the singles, “Alive” and “Youth of the Nation“, pushing it to go triple platinum.

Youth of the Nation

Youth of the Nation” is a song by American Christian metal band P.O.D.. It was released in December 2001 as the second single to come from their second major label album, Satellite. It was inspired in part by the school shootings at Santana High School and Columbine High School. While Satellite contained numerous hit songs, “Youth of the Nation” was the band’s only No. 1 hit on the Modern Rock chart and reached No. 28 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 6 on the Mainstream Rock chart. The song was performed in “Weird Al” Yankovic‘s polka medley “Angry White Boy Polka” from his 2003 album Poodle Hat.

The song’s inspiration stems from a trip when the band was on their way to record for Satellite on March 5, 2001. They were held up in traffic and discovered that the reason was a shooting at Santana High School where a fifteen-year-old student named Charles Andrew Williams killed two and wounded thirteen. The album was consequently delayed, and the band was inspired to write “Youth of the Nation.”

In a 2008 interview, guitarist Marcos Curiel described the event:

“We were rehearsing and writing Satellite a couple of blocks away from the school. One day on the way to the studio, there were all these helicopters and cars speeding by. We really didn’t know what was going on. When we got to the studio, this guy had the news on, and he was like, ‘This kid just went and started blasting fools.’ So we started jamming, and that rhythm just naturally came out then Wuv [Bernardo, drummer] put that drumbeat on it, and the song was born.”

“Youth of the Nation” contains three stories of adolescent tragedy in American culture. It begins by describing a teenager unknowingly skating to school only to be shot by a fellow student. Lyrics go on to speculate whether or not the boy who committed the act felt unloved. Following the chorus, a 12-year old girl called “little Suzie” is depicted as having been abandoned by her father and subsequently “finding love in all the wrong places.” Finally, another teen known as “Johnny boy” fails to fit in with his peers and ultimately commits suicide by firearm, “[telling] the world how he felt with the sound of a gat.”

With its severe subject matter, “Youth of the Nation” conjures musical despair and desolation. It begins with low guitar notes that echo out broodingly. This pattern continues and is soon followed by a prominently showcased and almost militant drum beat and contemplative bass. Sandoval’s rapping details the tragic circumstances in a lamented and anxious delivery. A pre-chorus sees the guitar shift into high, escalating notes that further accent the song’s anguish before returning to the initial pattern for the chorus. The bridge features an adolescent choir reciting the chorus, “We are, we are, the youth of the nation” which continues alongside Sandoval as the song comes to an end.

Youth of the Nation - Bernardo, Sandoval, Curiel

Last day of the rest of my life
I wish I would’ve known
Cause I didn’t kiss my mama goodbye

I didn’t tell her that I loved her and how much I care
Or thank my pops for all the talks
And all the wisdom he shared

Unaware, I just did what I always do
Everyday, the same routine
Before I skate off to school

But who knew that this day wasn’t like the rest
Instead of taking a test
I took two to the chest

Call me blind, but I didn’t see it coming
Everybody was running
But I couldn’t hear nothing

Except gun blasts, it happened so fast
I don’t really know this kid
Even though I sit by him in class

Maybe this kid was reaching out for love
Or maybe for a moment
He forgot who he was
Or maybe this kid just wanted to be hugged
Whatever it was
I know it’s because

We are, We are, the youth of the nation

Little Suzy, she was only twelve
She was given the world
With every chance to excel

Hang with the boys and hear the stories they tell
She might act kind of proud
But no respect for herself

She finds love in all the wrong places
The same situations
Just different faces

Changed up her pace since her daddy left her
Too bad he never told her
She deserved much better

Johnny boy always played the fool
He broke all the rules
So you would think he was cool

He was never really one of the guys
No matter how hard he tried
Often thought of suicide

It’s kind of hard when you ain’t got no friends
He put his life to an end
They might remember him then

You cross the line and there’s no turning back
Told the world how he felt
With the sound of a gat

We are, We are, the youth of the nation

Who’s to blame for the lives that tragedies claim
No matter what you say
It don’t take away the pain

That I feel inside, I’m tired of all the lies
Don’t nobody know why
It’s the blind leading the blind

I guess that’s the way the story goes
Will it ever make sense
Somebody’s got to know

There’s got to be more to life than this
There’s got to be more to everything
I thought exists

We are, We are, the youth of the nation

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I’m Gonna Live Till I Die ~ Frank Sinatra

Francis Albert “Frank” Sinatra was an American singer and film actor.

Beginning his musical career in the swing era with Harry James and Tommy Dorsey, Sinatra became an unprecedentedly successful solo artist from the early to mid-1940s, after being signed to Columbia Records in 1943. Being the idol of the “bobby soxers”, he released his first album, The Voice of Frank Sinatra in 1946. His professional career had stalled by the 1950s, but it was reborn in 1953 after he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in From Here to Eternity.

He signed with Capitol Records in 1953 and released several critically lauded albums (such as In the Wee Small Hours, Songs for Swingin’ Lovers, Come Fly with Me, Only the Lonely and Nice ‘n’ Easy). Sinatra left Capitol to found his own record label, Reprise Records in 1961 (finding success with albums such as Ring-a-Ding-Ding!, Sinatra at the Sands and Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim), toured internationally, was a founding member of the Rat Pack and fraternized with celebrities and statesmen, including John F. Kennedy. Sinatra turned 50 in 1965, recorded the retrospective September of My Years, starred in the Emmy-winning television special Frank Sinatra: A Man and His Music, and scored hits with “Strangers in the Night” and “My Way”.

With sales of his music dwindling and after appearing in several poorly received films, Sinatra retired for the first time in 1971. Two years later, however, he came out of retirement and in 1973 recorded several albums, scoring a Top 40 hit with “(Theme From) New York, New York” in 1980. Using his Las Vegas shows as a home base, he toured both within the United States and internationally, until a short time before his death in 1998.

Sinatra also forged a highly successful career as a film actor, winning the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in From Here to Eternity, a nomination for Best Actor for The Man with the Golden Arm, and critical acclaim for his performance in The Manchurian Candidate. He also starred in such musicals as High Society, Pal Joey, Guys and Dolls and On the Town. Sinatra was honored at the Kennedy Center Honors in 1983 and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Ronald Reagan in 1985 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 1997. Sinatra was also the recipient of eleven Grammy Awards, including the Grammy Trustees Award, Grammy Legend Award and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

I’m Gonna Live Till I Die

I’m Gonna Live Till I Die” is a song Frank Sinatra recorded under and Capitol Records.

While the song was released in 1955 as a Capitol single, the song was casually recorded in concert by Sinatra throughout some of his last years under Columbia Records.

Sinatra’s studio version of the song was done with an arrangement by Dick Reynolds in 1954. This recording was released as a single in 1955 with the song “Melody of Love” as the A-side. Neither of these songs charted, however.

I’m Gonna Live Till I Die - Kent, Curtis, Hoffman

I’m gonna live till I die
I’m gonna laugh ‘stead of cry
I’m gonna take the town turn it upside down
I’m gonna live, live, live until I die

They’re gonna say what a guy
I’m gonna play for the sky
Ain’t gonna miss a thing,gonna have my fling
I’m gonna live live live until I die

Those blues I lay low, I’ll make them stay low
They’ll never trail over my head
I’ll be a devil till I’m an angel
But until then Hallelujah
Gonna dance gonna fly
I’ll take my chance riding high
Before my numbers up I’m gonna fill my cup
I’m gonna live, live, live until I die

Those blues I lay low, I’ll make them stay low
They’ll never trail over my head
I’ll be a devil till I’m an angel
But until then Hallelujah
Gonna dance gonna fly
I’ll take my chance riding high
Before my numbers up I’m gonna fill my cup
I’m gonna live, live, live, live until I die

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The Weight ~ The Band

The_Band_(1969)The Band was a Canadian-American roots rock group that originally consisted of Rick Danko (bass guitar, double bass, fiddle, trombone, vocals), Levon Helm (drums, mandolin, guitar, vocals), Garth Hudson (keyboard instruments, saxophones, trumpet), Richard Manuel (piano, drums, baritone saxophone, vocals) and Robbie Robertson (guitar, vocals). The members of the Band first came together as they joined rockabilly singer Ronnie Hawkins’ backing group the Hawks one by one between 1958 and 1963.

In 1964, they separated from Hawkins, after which they toured and released a few singles as Levon and the Hawks and the Canadian Squires. The next year, Bob Dylan hired them for his U.S. tour in 1965 and world tour in 1966. Following the 1966 tour, the group moved with Dylan to Saugerties, New York, where they made the informal 1967 recordings that became The Basement Tapes, which forged the basis for their 1968 debut album Music from Big Pink. Because they were always “the band” to various front men, Helm said the name “The Band” worked well when the group came into its own. The group began performing officially as The Band in 1968, and went on to release ten studio albums. Dylan continued to collaborate with The Band over the course of their career, including a joint 1974 tour.

The original configuration of The Band ended its touring career in 1976 with an elaborate live ballroom performance featuring numerous musical celebrities. This performance was immortalized in Martin Scorsese’s 1978 documentary The Last Waltz. The Band recommenced touring in 1983 without guitarist Robbie Robertson, who had found success with a solo career and as a Hollywood music producer. Following a 1986 show, Richard Manuel was found dead of suicide, but the remaining three members continued to tour and record albums with a revolving door of musicians filling Manuel’s and Robertson’s respective roles, before finally settling on Richard Bell, Randy Ciarlante, and Jim Weider. Danko died of heart failure in 1999, after which the group broke up for good. Levon Helm was diagnosed with throat cancer in 1998, and after a series of treatments was able to regain use of his voice. He continued to perform and released several successful albums until he succumbed to the disease in 2012.

The group was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1989 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked them No. 50 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time, and in 2008, they received the Grammy’s Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2004, “The Weight” was ranked the 41st best song of all time in Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list.

The Weight

The Weight” is a song originally by the Canadian-American group The Band that was released as Capitol Records single 2269 in 1968 and on the group’s debut album Music from Big Pink. Written by Band member Robbie Robertson, the song is about a visitor’s experiences in a town mentioned in the lyric’s first line as Nazareth, from which the Scottish band Nazareth later took its name. “The Weight” has significantly influenced American popular music, having been listed as #41 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time published in 2004.  Pitchfork Media named it the 13th best song of the Sixties,  and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame named it one of the 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. PBS, which broadcast performances of the song in “Ramble at the Ryman” (2011), “Austin City Limits” (2012),  and “Quick Hits” (2012), describes it as “a masterpiece of Biblical allusions, enigmatic lines and iconic characters” and notes its enduring popularity as “an essential part of the American songbook.”

“The Weight” is one of The Band’s best known songs though it was not a significant mainstream hit for group in the U.S., peaking at only #63. The Band’s recording fared much better in Canada and the UK - in those countries, the single was a top 40 hit, peaking at #35 in Canada and #21 in the UK in 1968. However, the song’s popularity was greatly enhanced by three cover releases in 1968 and 1969 with arrangements that appealed to a diversity of music audiences. Aretha Franklin’s 1969 soul music arrangement was included in her This Girl’s in Love with You album, which peaked in the U.S. at #19 and #3 on the soul chart, and peaked in Canada at #12.  Jackie DeShannon’s 1968 pop music arrangement, debuting on the Hot 100 one week before The Band’s, peaked at #55 in the U.S., #35 in Canada. A joint single rhythm and blues arrangement released by Diana Ross & the Supremes and The Temptations in 1969, hit #46 in the U.S., and #36 in Canada. The Band’s and Jackie DeShannon’s versions never mentioned the title.

The inspiration for and influences affecting the composition of “The Weight” came from the music of the American South, the life experiences of band members, particularly Levon Helm, and movies of Spanish filmmaker Luis Buñuel. The original members of The Band performed “The Weight” as an American Southern folk song with country music(vocals, guitars and drums) and gospel music (piano and organ) elements. The lyrics,  written in the first-person, are about a traveler’s experiences arriving, visiting, and departing a town called Nazareth. The singers, led by Helm, vocalize the traveler’s encounters with people in the town from the perspective of a Bible Belt American Southerner,  like Helm himself, a native of rural Arkansas. After Helm’s death in 2012, Robertson, who was raised in Canada, described how visits to the Memphis, Tennessee area, around which Helm grew up, affected him and influenced his songwriting:

“To me … going there was like going to the source. Because I was at such a vulnerable age then, it made a really big impact on me. Just that I had the honor joining up with this group and then even going to this place, which was close to a religious experience – even being able to put my feet on the ground there, because I was from Canada, right? So it was like, ‘Woah, this is where this music grows in the ground, and [flows from] the Mississippi river. My goodness.’ It very much affected my songwriting and, because I knew Levon’s musicality so well, I wanted to write songs that I thought he could sing better than anybody in the world.

“While I was there, I was just gathering images and names, and ideas and rhythms, and I was storing all of these things … in my mind somewhere. And when it was time to sit down and write songs, when I reached into the attic to see what I was gonna write about, that’s what was there. I just felt a strong passion toward the discovery of going there, and it opened my eyes, and all my senses were overwhelmed by the feeling of that place. When I sat down to write songs, that’s all I could think of at the time.”

The colorful characters in “The Weight” were based on real people members of The Band knew, as Levon Helm explained in his autobiography, This Wheel’s on Fire. In particular, “young Anna Lee” mentioned in the third verse is Helm’s longtime friend Anna Lee Amsden,  and, according to her, “Carmen” and “Crazy Chester” were people from Helm’s hometown, Turkey Scratch, Arkansas.

According to Robertson, “The Weight” was inspired by the movies of Spanish filmmaker Luis Buñuel. Buñuel’s films are known for their surreal imagery and criticism of organized religion, particularly Catholicism. The song’s lyrics and music invoke vivid imagery, the main character’s perspective is influenced by the Bible, and the episodic story was inspired by the predicaments Buñuel’s film characters faced that undermined their goals for maintaining or improving their moral character. Of this, Robertson once stated:

“(Buñuel) did so many films on the impossibility of sainthood. People trying to be good in Viridiana and Nazarin, people trying to do their thing. In “The Weight” it’s the same thing. People like Buñuel would make films that had these religious connotations to them but it wasn’t necessarily a religious meaning. In Buñuel there were these people trying to be good and it’s impossible to be good. In “The Weight” it was this very simple thing. Someone says, “Listen, would you do me this favor? When you get there will you say ‘hello’ to somebody or will you give somebody this or will you pick up one of these for me? Oh? You’re going to Nazareth, that’s where the Martin guitar factory is. Do me a favor when you’re there.” This is what it’s all about. So the guy goes and one thing leads to another and it’s like “Holy shit, what’s this turned into? I’ve only come here to say ‘hello’ for somebody and I’ve got myself in this incredible predicament.” It was very Buñuelish to me at the time.”

The traveler’s visit to Nazareth

The traveler begins “The Weight” by giving the impression that he is visiting the Holy Land. The traveler is weary from his long journey (e.g., “feelin’ ’bout half past dead”), and is looking for a place to stay and sleep, as in the New TestamentGospel of Luke story of Joseph and Mary prior to the birth of Jesus of Nazareth in Bethlehem. In the town, the traveler encounters people with names taken from Biblical characters – the Devil, Miss Moses, and Luke. The traveler encounters others, including Carmen walking with the Devil, whom the traveler meets while trying to find a place to sleep. The traveler asks Carmen to go downtown with him. She responds by telling the traveler that she has something else to do but the Devil “can stick around” with him. The traveler meets Crazy Chester, who offers to provide him with a bed (e.g., “fix his rack”) if the traveler will take his dog, Jack. The chorus and last verse mention Miss Fanny (not intended to be sung as “Annie” ), who had charged the traveler the responsibility (e.g., “The Weight” or “load”) for giving “her regards to everyone” in the town. In the final verse, the traveler leaves Nazareth, dispirited by his experiences (e.g. “my bag is sinking low”). The traveler catches a “cannon ball” (i.e., a train, as in the American folk song “Wabash Cannonball”) to go back to see Miss Fanny. The traveler’s apparent visit to a holy city was a goal of the writer and composer, Robbie Robertson, who located the story in Nazareth, because Nazareth, Pennsylvania  is the hometown of the C.F. Martin & Company, a famed, long-time producer of guitars and other musical instruments. Such a city might be considered “holy” to American musicians and their friends. In the third verse, the traveler characterizes, using only Biblical references, a disagreement between two friends, Miss Moses and Luke. The traveler tells Miss Moses, “Go down, Miss Moses, there’s nothin’ you can say” to Luke, using the Negro spiritual song of liberation “Go Down Moses”  to associate her with the African-American civil rights struggle, a crisis that transformed America throughout the 1960s. (In the spiritual, Moses’sGod commands him to “Tell old Pharaoh, ‘Let my people go.’”) In doing so, the traveler tells Miss Moses that it is futile to persuade Luke to join or support the movement since his friend is preoccupied with “waitin’ on the Judgment Day.” Though Luke refuses to participate, he is so concerned that he asks the traveler to stay in Nazareth to take care of the young girl, Anna Lee. In addition, the song’s characters have high spiritual meaning to the traveler because the earthly characters mentioned in the song were based on real people The Band knew. However, the traveler’s mission, that started with a religious-like fervor, fails to uplift him. At each turn, the people Miss Fanny asks him to meet disappoint him. At the end, by leaving Nazareth, the traveler abandons Anna Lee, his broken vehicle, and his commitment to Fanny’s task, though he is not disaffected enough to not travel back to return to Fanny, an indicator of the strength of their relationship that is an uplifting experience to the listener.

The Weight - Robbie Robertson

I pulled into Nazareth, was feelin’ about half past dead
I just need some place where I can lay my head
“Hey, mister, can you tell me where a man might find a bed?”
He just grinned and shook my hand, “no” was all he said

Take a load off, Fanny
Take a load for free
Take a load off, Fanny
And (and) (and) you put the load right on me
(You put the load right on me)

I picked up my bag, I went lookin’ for a place to hide
When I saw Carmen and the Devil walkin’ side by side
I said, “Hey, Carmen, come on let’s go downtown”
She said, “I gotta go but my friend can stick around”

Take a load off, Fanny
Take a load for free
Take a load off, Fanny
And (and) (and) you put the load right on me
(You put the load right on me)

Go down, Miss Moses, there’s nothin’ you can say
It’s just ol’ Luke and Luke’s waitin’ on the Judgment Day
“Well, Luke, my friend, what about young Anna Lee?”
He said, “Do me a favor, son, won’t you stay and keep Anna Lee company?”

Take a load off, Fanny
Take a load for free
Take a load off, Fanny
And (and) (and) you put the load right on me
(You put the load right on me)

Crazy Chester followed me and he caught me in the fog
He said, “I will fix your rack if you’ll take Jack, my dog”
I said, “Wait a minute, Chester, you know I’m a peaceful man”
He said, “That’s okay, boy, won’t you feed him when you can”

Yeah, take a load off, Fanny
Take a load for free
Take a load off, Fanny
And (and) (and) you put the load right on me
(You put the load right on me)

Catch a cannon ball now to take me down the line
My bag is sinkin’ low and I do believe it’s time
To get back to Miss Fanny, you know she’s the only one
Who sent me here with her regards for everyone

Take a load off, Fanny
Take a load for free
Take a load off, Fanny
And (and) (and) you put the load right on me
(You put the load right on me)


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