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Levon Helm: Across The Great Divide

Levon Helm: Across The Great Divide

To me, Levon Helm's voice captured the authentic roots of America's south. Born in Turkey Scratch, Arkansas, Helm grew up on Sonny Boy Williamson, traveled with Ronnie Hawkins, recorded with Bob Dylan, acted in various films and even wrote a book. His death leaves a void...

In his book, This Wheel's On Fire, Helm wrote of his childhood days in Arkansas: "Think of endless cotton fields, gravel roads, groves of pecan trees, canebrakes, bayous, pump houses, kudzu vines, sharecroppers' cabins, tenant farmhouses, flooded rice fields, the biggest sky in the world, and the nearby Mississippi, like an inland sea with its own weather system. Think 110 degrees in the shade in the summertime. Cotton country. We were cotton farmers..."

Levon Helm was the real deal...no charades. Helm was the only American in The Band. That group's concise, homespun songs such as "The Weight", "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down", "Ophelia", "Up On Cripple Creek", Chest Fever", "The Rumor", "Forbidden Fruit", "Rag Mama Rag" and "W.S. Walcott Medicine Show" rank as some of rock & roll's finest tunes.

Helm passed away yesterday--April 19, 2012--at 71 after a long bout with cancer. In 1998, Helm underwent 28 radiation treatments on his throat. After his treatments, Helm continued hosting his Midnight Rambles, recorded his Grammy-winning album Dirt Farmer and allowed bands to record at his home studio. And then, without warning his cancer returned.

Helm's career casts a long and wide shadow on music. His side-projects over the last 50 years included working with Muddy Waters, Neil Young, Bobby Charles, Conway Twitty, Dr. John, Larry Campbell and The Black Crowes to name only a few.

His musicianship speaks for itself. Helm played drums, guitar, and mandolin. His voice was always identifiable. It's not only his musical accomplishments and legend, but the effect his music has on you when you're alone...when everyone else is gone. There will not be another like him. The flag flies at half mast...

James Calemine


Dirt Farmer

Electric Dirt

This Wheel's On Fire

The Basement Tapes

Ramble at the Ramble

The Last Waltz

Muddy Waters at Woodstock

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