I was listening to The Band’s album Music From Big Pink earlier this week, and something struck me about the song “The Weight.” Trust me, you know the song. It goes a little like this: “I pulled into Nazareth / Was feelin’ about half past dead / I just need some place / where I can lay my head.” Ring a bell yet? No? Try this:
In the song, The Band, originally consisting of Robbie Robertson, Richard Manuel, Garth Hudson, Rick Danko and Levon Helm, draws from a familiar cast of characters and American mythology to tell a universal story set in the town of Nazareth, PA. First released in 1968, “The Weight” only reached #63 on the U.S. charts, but has since achieved iconic status. It has become an American standard in a way few songs have accomplished. Indeed, Rolling Stone lists it as the 41st greatest song of all time.
Further cementing its iconic status, check out a very small sample of the artists – across genres, of all ages – who have covered the song:
The Black Crowes
Old Crow Medicine Show
The Staple Singers
Lee Ann Womack
Cross Canadian Ragweed
Diana Ross, the Temptations and the Supremes
The Allman Brothers Band
The Marshall Tucker Band
Panic at the Disco
Songs with enduring power like “The Weight” are few and far between, and seem to be even more so nowadays. So tonight’s discussion asks:
What songs of the past decade have enduring power? What songs will we be listening to and hear covers of in the next 50 years?
It’s always fun to learn a bit more about the tastes of our fellow country music fans from time to time. So, I’m asking you to enter my imaginary world for a little while.
Pretend that you’re trapped on a desert island and can have one of each item listed in the categories below. Of course, my imaginary existence somehow allows for you to, somehow, manage to have electricity, a stereo and a DVD player.
Complete works of one Country Music Artist/Band:
One Album by another Country Music Artist/Band:
Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson, Rattlin’ Bones
One Bluegrass Album:
Patty Loveless, Mountain Soul
One “big tent” country album:
Old Crow Medicine Show, OCMS
One Album by a Non-Country Artist:
Nirvana, Nirvana Unplugged
One Country Music Artist Box Set (that does not include all the works of that artist):
Hank Williams, Unreleased Recordings
Complete Works of one Author:
One Novel: To Kill A Mockingbird
One Collection of Short Stories: Where I’m Calling From: Selected Stories by Raymond Carver
One Book of Poetry: Where The Side Walk Ends by Shel Silverstein
One Miscellaneous Book: Rabbit Angstrom: Four Novels by John Updike
FILM AND TELEVISION
Complete works of one Filmmaker:
Meh. Old Crow have become a cult favorites by way of raucous roots revivals that often bulldoze the boundaries of proper content and delivery, but you probably wouldn’t get that just from this record. Sure, the whole thing is blatant sexual innuendos, and that’s pretty amusing the first time or two, but the boys sound like they’re reciting the filth rather than relishing it. There’s still a lot of tight, interesting musicianship on display, of course – check out that winding guitar part in the interludes – but the thrill is gone.