- Taschenbuch: 328 Seiten
- Verlag: Bertrams; Auflage: 2 (1. September 2000)
- Sprache: Englisch
- ISBN-10: 1556524056
- ISBN-13: 978-1556524059
- Größe und/oder Gewicht: 15,2 x 2 x 22,9 cm
- Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 1 Kundenrezension
- Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 286.525 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)
This Wheel's on Fire: Levon Helm and the Story of the Band (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 1. September 2000
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The Band, who backed Bob Dylan when he went electric in 1965 and then turned out a half-dozen albums of beautifully crafted, image-rich songs, is now regarded as one of the most influential rock groups of the '60s. But while their music evoked a Southern mythology, only their Arkansawyer drummer, Levon Helm, was the genuine article. From the cotton fields to Woodstock, from seeing Sonny Boy Williamson and Elvis Presley to playing for President Clinton, "This Wheel's on Fire" replays the tumultuous history of our times in Levon's own unforgettable folksy drawl. This edition is expanded with a new afterword by the authors.Alle Produktbeschreibungen
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Judging by the way this book reads, it seems that it's largely composed of verbal reminiscences by Helm, later pieced together by Davis and embellished with accounts from other interested parties. This can make for confusing reading -- you have to either be alert to changes of voice or be willing to back up and remind yourself who said this or that. It also leads to some apparent "mood swings" on Helm's part -- it is clear that there are certain things about the history of The Band that still make him angry. His attitude toward Robbie Robertson is a case in point: the guitarist is "Robbie" throughout most of the book, becomes "Robertson" when Helm is talking about business/publishing quarrels and the whole "Last Waltz" situation, and then turns back into "Robbie" when Helm is discussing less loaded issues or reminiscing about the good times.
It's also very clear that Helm feels guilt as well as grief about Richard Manuel. The story begins with Manuel's death and then goes back to the beginning, and several times alludes to warning signs of Manuel's emotional instability that Helm seems to feel they should have caught. The final comment by Helm on Manuel's death sounds more like someone trying to think of a reason for the tragedy, rather than saying what he honestly believes happened. That segment sounds like a reflection of Helm's enduring wish to make sense of his friend's death, rather than a seriously-offered explanation for why it happened.
Even Robbie Robertson does not get the raking one might expect, given the long-standing bad blood between the two. Helm is pretty scathing about how "The Last Waltz" turned out, and he is not impressed that Robertson went along with the label's tendency to make Robertson the "star" of The Band and everyone else "sidemen" (the group's distaste for that term having already been established.) But in a number of instances it is clear that in retrospect Helm doesn't feel Robertson was intentionally trying to hurt anyone else, and he does not attempt to diminish Robertson's role in the group (although he takes a pin to the notion that Robbie was the only one writing the songs.) Is this objective truth? I have no idea, but in a music industry in which Paul McCartney does not own the rights to his own songs, it certainly seems possible that more than one person deserved credit for the songs of The Band.
Another factor in this book's favour is the fact that it is fun to read. Yes, its structure can be confusing. And yes, Helm is folksy. And he certainly does not go into the sex and drugs aspect of the story. (He does mention so many car crashes that it seems incredible that Manuel lived as long as he did, and nobody else got killed either.) But between them the two authors have gathered up dozens of crudely funny quips from Ronnie Hawkins (who comes off sounding like your most embarrassing but lovable uncle with a few drinks aboard) and Helm's account of Rick Danko and the deer, and his own accidental gunshot wound, are priceless. Some of Helm's ways of expressing himself are also pretty funny -- for example, his off-hand description of a road manager he didn't care for ("He was OK, but you wouldn't send him for the ammunition.") And you can tell he honestly loved the group and his bandmates, which is probably part of the reason there are still things he can't discuss dispassionately -- this is not a picture of a reserved or dispassionate man.
Is this the "real truth" about The Band? I don't know. I suspect even the men who were there would have different answers to that question. But it reads like one man's attempt at honesty, as well as a heartfelt tribute to the people he loved and the days they shared. It's not, to me, a bitter tale, but it is certainly bittersweet.
There is no doubt that Helm is the genuine article when it comes to rock and roll music. Born in rural Arkansas just before World War II, he grew up in the epicenter of the land and time that spawned the genre. The early chapters, with his accounts of rock's emergence and his early involvement with the new music as a teenager, are among the book's strongest moments. It is, after all, a story that needs to be told, given the fact that the radio and the rock press alike have been ignoring for decades the ongoing influence of the 1950s on post-Beatles rock. You'll never ignore it again after reading Helm's priceless accounts of toiling across the South and Midwest, backing up rockabilly great Ronnie Hawkins. Few others could offer the glimpses of that era that Helm does.
The evolution of Hawkins' band from a collection of Arkansas country boys to an all-Canadian (except for Helm) outfit was an unlikely one, but his account humanizes it all remarkably well. There could be more information on the Band's "lean years" - roughly 1963-65 - after their involvement with Hawkins and before Bob Dylan stepped in, and Dylan himself is as enigmatic as ever even in the memory of one who knew him; but then again, this was the least productive stretch of their long career. The background on the recording of their legendary albums from 1968-75 is priceless to anyone who's ever listened to them, as are Helm's tales of Woodstock, Watkins' Glen, and the 1966 British tour with Dylan. Along the way we are treated to stories of all manner of hellraising when the boys weren't in the studio.
But that's where the selectivity comes into play. The Band was known in its heyday as one of the wildest bunch of womanizers on the road during its concert tours, but Helm avoids that issue entirely. Additionally, he barely touches on the drug use that also plagued him and his Bandmates in the early '70s, although he doesn't hesitate to detail the transgressions of other rockers, notably Neil Young. Helm has a right to keep all of this to himself, of course, but it does give us an incomplete picture of just what went on.
Then there's the Robbie Robertson issue. Helm hadn't been on speaking terms with Robertson for years when he wrote the book, and it shows in his often vicious accounts of the growing divide between Robertson and the others. This results in a glaring imbalance between the well-rounded profiles we get of Helm, Rick Danko, Richard Manuel and especially Garth Hudson, who has always been famously shy onstage, and the bitter caricature of Robertson. Some of Helm's criticisms are probably deserved, but it remains a wildly imbalanced account. Helm's biggest grievance, by the way, is his belief that Robertson got more songwriting credit than he deserved. Listen to any of the Band's three 1990s albums (none of which featured Robertson in any way) alongside any of their earlier ones, and it's pretty clear that Robertson deserves most of the credit he's received for their brilliant lyrics. Likewise, Helm's well-documented disdain for "The Last Waltz" might be justified, but the chapter recounting that legendary concert dissolves almost immediately into self-righteous outrage. Too bad, because regardless of any behind-the-scenes ugliness, the surviving recordings of that night are superb.
For all those shortcomings, Helm's personal recollections are essential reading for any Band fan. Many of the stories he tells could never be captured by any other writer, and if you're a fan you won't want to miss them. Just don't let this be your only source of information about the Band.
Levon's down-home personality floods every page, and makes you wish you'd known him and his family growing up. Honestly, I probably enjoyed the chapters about his childhood as much or more than the chapters about being in one of my favorite groups--The Band.
There are some self-serving moments, but hey, they're illuminating too! Check out how casually Levon dismisses his own drug addiction in the early 70s, and completely ignores the fact that THAT might have contributed to the rift between the rest of them and Robbie (Rick and Richard were addicts too). He blames the rift primarily on Robbie's receiving most of the writing credits, but if everybody else was strung-out, SOMEBODY needed to write the songs!!! Oh yeah, and Levon devotes a few paragraphs too many to an incident in which Ronnie Hawkins claimed that Levon had a large genital appendage...not really the sort of information I was looking for... Apparently these guys were knee-deep in the hedonistic lifestyle too, but Levon doesn't much go into that...which is probably for the best.
And oh boy, there are shades to the relationship between Robbie Robertson and Levon Helm that go far beyond what I previously realized...after reading this, you'll NEVER watch "The Last Waltz" the same way again. Man, oh man! Robbie comes off as less than likable, to put it kindly. And I gotta say, this isn't just a one-sided account, because Rick is quoted extensively too. Seems like money and fame can really wreck the best of friendships. Here's how.
If you'd prefer to think of the Band as a bunch of kindly guys who simply had fun recording good albums, you might want to stay away from this book! But if you'd like to see what sort of stuff was going on behind the scenes, and what fuels the continuing bitterness between the surviving members, or if you want to know more about Richard Manuel's untimely death, this book is your best source.
You'll remember you're the one
That called on me to call on them
To get you your favors done
And after ev'ry plan had failed
And there was nothing more to tell
You knew that we would meet again
If your mem'ry serves you well
This wheel's on fire
Rolling down the road
Best notify my next of kin
This wheel shall explode "
Lyrics to 'This Wheel's On Fire' Bob Dylan
'The Band' "They were grown men who had climbed the mountain together, spoken to the Gods, and returned to the valley, where they once again became mortal" said the Philadelphia Inquirer. The Band comprised Levon Helm (drums, mandolin, guitar, bass), Robbie Robertson (guitar); Richard Manuel (piano, harmonica, drums, saxophone); Garth Hudson (organ, piano, clavinet, accordion, synthesizer, saxophone); Rick Danko (bass guitar, violin, trombone), and at the beginning Ronnie Hawkins. Levon Helm was the unofficial leader of the band. He gathered the troops together one at a time. His memoir tells the story.
Mark Lavon Helm was born on a cotton farm in Arkansas, Turkey Scratch was the name. He grew up on country music and started playing drums, and then along came Elvis Presly and rock n'roll was born. Levon as he came to be known, would travel to the local music places, and then up to Memphis where he would listen to Conway Twitty and a new guy called Hawk, Ronnie Hawkins. He hooked up with the Hawk, and they played music dates around the south, and then traveled to Canada where the big music houses and money was to be found. They started as the Ron Hawks Quartet and traveled the highways and by-ways. They had a good time, booze, women, yes, many, many women, fun and music. Eventually Hawk found marriage and family life and bowed out of the band. Levon and the Hawks were born, and they met Bob Dylan and their entire world changed. They played with Bob as his back up band. Nothing much happened after this, and Levon took a two year hiatus. He found the group again after they moved to Woodstock, NY, Bob Dylan's home, and they started a recording career.
In 1967 the group recorded 'Music From Big Pink' and their band took off. The album, 'Big Pink' used the name 'The Band', much to Levon's dismay, but he grew to like the name. Thus the group had a new name and a new career. For ten years they recorded, toured, got rich, booze and drugs and women were the name of the game. One by one each band member got married and started a family. 1975 the group was tired and torn, drugs and booze had taken their toll. Robbie Robertson had taken over the day to day management and the group decided to split. 'The Last Waltz' a movie of 'The Band' and their friends was planned, and this was a deciding moment in their lives.
Levon Helm has expressed his distaste for the editing of the concert movie and in his memoir, this chapter is full of the life, times and making of 'The Last Waltz'. He was so angry about the financial arrangements for the group, asserting that a disproportionate amount of coverage was given to Robertson with Manuel being cruelly sidelined. The movie was a big disappointment to everyone but Robbie Robertson. Even though this movie is known as the quintessential movie of a band, and has every musician of fame playing; it was not a true representation of what really happened those 24 hours. Robbie Robertson parted from the group and never played with them again. With the demise of The Band, Helm began working on a solo album Levon Helm, and the RCO All Stars which was followed by other albums. In 1983, The Band reunited without Robbie Robertson, but then Manuel committed suicide while on tour in 1986. Helm, Danko and Hudson continued in The Band, releasing the album 'Jericho' in 1993 and 'High on the Hog' in 1996. The last album from The Band to date was the 30th anniversary album 'Jubilation' in 1998
Levon went on to act in several films. He played in 'Coal Miner's Daughter'. In 1990 he was diagnosed with throat cancer and had successful therapy. Since that time has had successful concerts he calls 'The Midnight Ramble' The Midnight Ramble is an outgrowth of an idea he talked about that concerned a traveling medicine show that would put on performances for communities. "After the finale, they'd have the midnight ramble," Helm said. "The songs would get a little bit juicier. The jokes would get a little funnier and the prettiest dancer would really get down and shake it a few times. A lot of the rock and roll duck walks and moves came from that." Levon Helm recently appeared at the Beacon Theater on March 16-17, 2007, a rare occurrence. Doctor John and Warren Hayes from the Allman Brothers Band played at the concerts as well along with several other guests. The Alexis P. Suter Band was the opening act.
"Although The Band was always more popular with music journalists and fellow musicians than with the general public, they have remained an admired and influential group. They have been inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2004, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked them #50 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time". Rolling Stone
'Rolling Stone' magazine lavished praise on The Band during their heyday, giving them more attention than perhaps any other group in the magazine's history. Many of today's bands give credence to "The Band' for their beginnings and love of music. The Eagles, Counting Crowes, Pink Floyd and on and on. 'The Band' the beginning of rock n' roll for me. Levon Helm has written a memoir to remember. He gives us the scoop, the lives and loves and rock n roll of a group that led my era into the sound of music as we know it. The heart and soul of rock n' roll with an edgy, blunt side but always loving memoir.
Highly Recommended. prisrob 3-20-07
The Last Waltz - DVD
The Last Waltz- CD
Levon is very charitable with nearly everyone invoved except for Robbie Robertson. Not that he does not compliment him or extol his musical virtues, he does. But he clearly feels betrayed by Robertson both musically and financially. Musically, because Robertson unilaterally decided to fold up the The Band's tent when Levon clearly saw no need to; and financially, because Robertson took all of the songwriting credits and eventually bought the publishing from the other band members-except for Helm's. Helm sees this as the reason Rick Danko had to work so hard: because Robertson was sitting back and collecting the royalties that should have been equally spread amongst the band members.
These criticisms may or may not be true. As to the songwriting credits, Helm doesn'tmake any specific accusations. He doesn't say, for example, "I wrote that part" or "Rick wrote that part of the song and Robertson took the credit." This omission is especailly glaring because Levon clearly has an iron trap of a mind when it comes to songs. There are many (far too many)recountings of set lists and song descriptions throughout the book, some going back to the 1950's. He does make clear, and I agree, that The Band was an entity that worked collaboratively to create the sound of the group. But that is not the same as deserving a songwriting credit. Songwriters get credit for writing the words and the music (the melody and chord changes). Instrumentalists do not get credit for writing the the song no matter how important their contribution to it. They get other things such as performance royalties. If The Band were more enlightened, they would have credited everyone in the group as songwriter as does REM. But they weren't.
As to Rick Danko's death, blaming Robertson isn't convincing. There is such a thing as personal responsibility; people make choices and Rick made his and it is sad that he is gone. Helm tries to lay the blame at Robertson's feet, but he is not successful.
These are the sour grapes and angry parts, but they are not the reason to read the book. Read it for the unbridled joy that Helm has for music, conveyed now in words as he did previously in song.