So Elton John and Mavis Staples and T-Bone Burnett and a whole lot of other folks sang The Band’s classic hit “The Weight” at last night’s Grammys ceremony. It was that part of the night when they pay tribute to those who died the year before, which includes Phillips County native Levon Helm, who passed away April 19.
“The Weight” is, of course, pretty much unimpeachable. It’s as good a representation of late ’60s rock ‘n’ roll as you’ll find. That said, hearing other people play it sure drives home just how inimitable The Band, and particularly Helm, really were. Other performers recorded good versions of it, but few of them come close to capturing the weariness, the longing and the beauty of the original. When The Band played it, it became timeless and otherworldly.
Note: Staples got way into it there at the end.