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Title: The big influence of 'Big Pink'
Source: McAlester News-Capital
URL Source: http://www.mcalesternews.com/news/l ... 52-5d94-bc0b-059eb80a317d.html
Published: Jul 16, 2018
Author: James Beaty
Post Date: 2018-07-16 12:15:50 by Willie Green
Ping List: *Music*     Subscribe to *Music*
Keywords: None
Views: 132
Comments: 7

One thing about 2018 — it marks the anniversary of a number of great albums, including the groundbreaking “Music From Big Pink” by the group known simply as The Band.

But what a band it was! Although the album title may not resonate among the masses, it remains a critical favorite today. It also became one of the most influential albums in music history, influencing artists such as The Beatles — especially George Harrison — Eric Clapton, The Grateful Dead, The Beach Boys and countless others.

When the album first appeared in the summer of 1968, it proved revolutionary in music circles — revolutionary because of its deceptive simplicity. Released in the midst of the psychedelic era, “Music From Big Pink” did the opposite of what was trending at the time.

While many other groups from the time dressed as glorified dandies with bell bottomed trousers and colorful paisley-covered shirts, The Band dressed in seemingly well-worn suits and sported bowler hats or fedoras. Inside the album gatefold, groups members were photographed in back and white, eschewing the swirling colors used on many album covers at the time.

They looked less like the hipsters of the late 1960s than a rustic band of outlaws from the 1800s.

During an era when the national media hyped the so-called generation gap, The Band gathered their extended families — from the elderly to children — for a massive photo shoot they called “Next of Kin” and included the photo in the album gate sleeve.

And during an era that often featured seemingly endless solos by guitarists, keyboardists, bassists and drummers, The Band deliberately pursued an ensemble sound. “Music From Big Pink” sounded as if The Band did not play a single note that didn’t serve the song — as opposed to the egos of the musicians.

That proved key to The Band’s success. Everything else would not have mattered if the music had not been in place.

Even the track sequencing showed The Band to be different. Conventional wisdom at the time dictated an album should start with a fast rocker to grab young listeners’ attention.

Instead, “Music From Big Pink” began with the dirge-like “Tears of Rage,” a song told from the point of view — gasp! — of a parent that began with the lines “We carried you in our arms on Independence Day. And now you throw us all aside and put us on our way.”

It didn’t hurt that the already-legendary Bob Dylan co-wrote the song with The Band’s vocalist-keyboardist Richard Manuel. Dylan would contribute a couple of other songs and paint the album cover as well.

“Music From Big Pink” included two songs that have become bonafide standards and several more that deserve to so so.

The fifth song on the album, called “The Weight,” includes the oft-sang refrain “Take a load off Fanny; take a load for free. Take a load off Fanny and-and-and (with each “and” adding a layer of harmony) put the load right on me.” Following the chorus is that well-known descending chord progression. It’s almost a given that the song will be played today whenever there’s a gathering of Americana and roots music enthusiasts.

Another high point is “Music From Big Pink” marked the first official release — and the first hearing by many — of the Dylan song, “I Shall be Released,” which includes a familiar chorus. “I see my light come shining, from the West down to the East. Any day now, any day now, I shall be released.” Also a favorite in Americana and roots music music circles, “I Shall Be Released” has been sang on numerous stages and around many a campfire.

With the music world awash in psychedelia in 1968, the sound of The Band and “Music From Big Pink” seemed to hearken from another time — although many people had a tough time trying to define exactly why the group did so.

For a group that consisted of four Canadians along with a single member from the United States, The Band seemed to capture the essence of America, especially the American south. No doubt drummer-vocalist Levon Helm from from Helena, Arkansas proved to be a massive influence on his fellow musicians. Originally based in Canada, the group first rose to prominence as The Hawks, backing Arkansas rockabilly singer Ronnie Hawkins, who had moved north of the border because of rockabilly’s many Canadian fans.

Members of The Hawks, however, eventually tired of Hawkins’ many rules — including fining them every time one of their girlfriends attended one of their shows. He figured the group would be more popular if all the other girls at the venue considered them available.

Shortly after The Hawks took flight however, they were asked if they would be interested in backing another performer — Bob Dylan, who was trying to make the transition from folk singer to rocker and who needed a top-notch band to back him on his upcoming American, European and Australian tours. Dylan and The Band members were so routinely booed by the die-hard folk fans who were aghast at the site of electric guitars, that Helm quit the group, preferring to work on oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico over being booed by outraged folkies.

No matter — Dylan and the remaining members ripped ahead. Dylan would open the first half of the tours with a solo acoustic set, then return for the second half with the rest of the group. Robertson on electric guitar; Rick Danko, on bass, Richard Manuel on piano and keyboard wizard Garth Hudson on organ. Together, with the newly-hired Mickey Jones on drums, they produced a frenzied electric sound on that tour that’s still considered some of the best live rock music ever.

Things changed though. Back in upstate New York on a break between tours and living in the Woodstock area, Dylan had that near-mythical motorcycle accident on a rural road. Whether Dylan truly suffered serious injuries or used the bike wreck as a reason to get off the rock ‘n’ roll merry-go-round is still a matter of conjecture. He kept his band on retainer though.

Danko, Manuel and Hudson moved into a house with pink siding — which band members and locals soon dubbed Big Pink. The house also included a basement big enough for the group to set up and record songs on a reel-to-reel tape recorder. Together, with Dylan, they would use that recorder to lay down what would later become known as “The Basement Tapes” — but “Music From Big Pink” is entirely different.

Robertson, Danko and Hudson crafted a unique set of songs. With a Capitol recording contract beckoning, they even persuaded Helm to leave his oil rig job in the Gulf and return to the fold.

The Band seemed to capture the essence of country life — although The Band’s songs didn’t exactly sound like country music, or rock music or even country-rock music. If the sound seemed a bit mysterious, that’s what The Band had worked so hard to create.

“This was a music that hopefully lived in a time and space you couldn’t quite put your finger on,” Robertson has been quoted as saying. Many music lovers have agreed that The Band achieved its goal.

The album came to fore during an era filled with 20 minute guitar solos. That could be a good thing in the hands of a masterful, melodic guitarist such as The Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia. However, with some of the era’s lesser lights, the seemingly endless noodling would soon begin to sound pointless.

With “Music From Big Pink,” The Band took the path less traveled.

It’s being celebrated this summer with the release of 50th Anniversary editions that include a CD with bonus recordings, a 180 gram two-LP vinyl set, digital recordings and a box set with bonus tracks and a hardcover book.

The essence though, remains in those 11 songs that were included in the original recording — and shows why “Music From Big Pink” continues to have such a big influence today. Members of The Band, with Dylan, are credited with largely creating the musical genre that today is known as Americana music.

Back then, it was simply called music — from “Big Pink.”

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#1. To: Willie Green (#0)

Choo-Choo Willie starts a useful thread!
Kudos, man.

Hank Rearden  posted on  2018-07-16   12:58:06 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  

#2. To: Willie Green (#0)

hondo68  posted on  2018-07-16   13:04:32 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  

#3. To: Hank Rearden (#1)

Choo-Choo Willie starts a useful thread!

Willie Green  posted on  2018-07-16   13:18:12 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  

#4. To: Willie Green (#3)

Now that right there's funny.

Hank Rearden  posted on  2018-07-16   13:20:39 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  

#5. To: Willie Green (#0)

It’s being celebrated this summer with the release of 50th Anniversary editions that include a CD with bonus recordings

50 years ago.


One of the few things I remember like it was yesterday.

In the entire history of the world,the only nations that had to build walls to keep their own citizens from leaving were those with leftist governments.

sneakypete  posted on  2018-07-16   15:01:05 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  

#6. To: sneakypete (#5)

One of the few things I remember like it was yesterday.

You & me both petey...

I remember seeing 'em play at Watkin's Glen along with the Allman Bros, Grateful Dead and about 600K other people... Looking back, it's a minor miracle that I'm still alive to tell you about it... LOL!

Willie Green  posted on  2018-07-16   15:25:01 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  

#7. To: Willie Green (#6)

I remember seeing 'em play at Watkin's Glen along with the Allman Bros, Grateful Dead and about 600K other people... Looking back, it's a minor miracle that I'm still alive to tell you about it... LOL!

One word for you.


BTW,seeing the Allman Brothers live back when they were really cooking was a life-changing experience for many people

WHO says the white man can't play the blues?

Not to mention the Marshall Tucker Band and Lynard Skynard.

In the entire history of the world,the only nations that had to build walls to keep their own citizens from leaving were those with leftist governments.

sneakypete  posted on  2018-07-16   19:47:20 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  

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