The American in Americana

When asked these days, as I was just last weekend, what kind if music I’m into generally, I often say “Americana”. And by that I always meant just about any blues-based rock, tempered by a more recent education of the breadth of what that can mean during our 3 years stint in the southern US. Anything  from folk, blue-grass, country, blues and on up … eventually to heavier rock / metal / punk / grunge whatever the fashion. The distinguishing feature is then always a matter of quality of the people, the playing, and of course the songs themselves – intelligent wit always helps, but the beat goes on.

RIP Levon Helm.

The sole American in the mostly Canadian The Band responsible for originating the Americana term. It’s the drummer’s voice on The Weight – as opposed to front-man Robbie Robertson who wrote it – a favourite, and one of the few such songs I can make a passable stab at on the guitar.

The Weight

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, Annie
Take a load for free
Take a load off, Annie
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”

(chorus)

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’tcha stay and keep Anna Lee company?”

(chorus)

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”

(chorus)

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

(chorus)

(Sad I know, but I did once pull into the Nazareth in question, on the strength of the lyric – with opportunity presented by several working visits to Bethlehem / Allentown … where the chain is picked-up by Springsteen’s lyric. More Americana.

Ah yes, of course, … (a recent Christmas present) …

“At the end of the documentary It Might Get Loud Jack White, Jimmy Page and The Edge play The Weight acoustically while The Edge and White swap vocals”.)

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