The Robbie Robertson Video

At first I ignored it, figuring it was just hype for his new movie and LP. Yup, Robbie’s selling something, and when the tsunami of hype starts, I tune out.

Now Robbie Robertson can’t sing. Oh, everybody can sing, and his vocal is perfect for his composition “Broken Arrow,” which is more about emotion and feel than perfection, Rod Stewart’s cover doesn’t come close, but there was a reason the songs were sung by Rick, Levon and Richard in the Band.

I don’t understand why they had to stop working together. Then again, the Band albums got progressively worse, certainly after “Stage Fright,” although the double live LP “Rock Of Ages” was great, especially with the horns. But like Steely Dan, the band could have continued to make records without going on the road, after breaking up, nobody equaled what came before.

I won’t get into the politics, the wars, the competing books, what we’re truly left with is the music. Most famously “The Weight.”

Now my favorite cut is “King Harvest (Has Surely Come).” The first time I heard it was in Brad Weston’s playroom, we had identical split-levels in the development. Brad told me I had to hear this one track, not the whole album, just this one cut, and he dropped the needle and…

Dry summer, then comes fall
Which I depend on most of all

This was not the 1960s, all shiny and mechanized, this was a guy living off the land, dependent upon Mother Nature, from seemingly the last century.

And at this late date, I love “Look Out Cleveland” and “Rag Mama Rag” from the second LP, which I think is the best, I can even listen to their take on “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” but I push the button whenever Joan Baez’s version comes on the radio.

And I’m a huge fan of “Stage Fright,” which is seen as second-tier, but not by me, maybe it’s the Todd Rundgren engineering. The killer is “The W.S.Walcott Medicine Show.”

There’ll be saints and sinners, you’ll see losers and winners
All kinds of people you might want to know

Actually, no. Today no one wants to know anybody not from their class. Losers are pooh-poohed, hell, look at the homeless situation.

But the truth is life is only about people, they’re all that counts. Your possessions won’t keep you warm at night. And one thing about people is they’ll surprise you, even the ones you think you know, but if you’re open to adventure you’ll be wowed and excited on a regular basis, that’s why you travel.

To Hawaii, the Congo, Japan, Jamaica, even Venice Beach in this video.

The rendition is not that memorable, but the video is. You’ve got Ringo, you’ve got Robbie, but the rest are a surprise.

Now the first thing you notice is Robbie is playing a brand new Stratocaster, in a world where old is better, you never see a star playing a brand new axe. Even better is the tone, it’s live, it’s not fed through studio sweeteners, it’s a guitar, it’s the sound that kicks you in the gut in live shows.

And I’ve never seen Marcus King live, but his vocal didn’t quite resonate, but it was cool to see him.

But not as much as Roberto Luti in Livorno, Italy. THEY’VE GOT ROCK AND ROLL IN ITALY? Man, if you didn’t see the credit, you’d think this guy was picking down in the delta.

Then Larkin Poe at Venice Beach? Hell, I’ve heard their name a zillion times, but have never heard them or seen them, I didn’t even know it was two women, now I’ve got to check them out.

And I don’t want to spoil it. But I will say that Lukas Nelson was the highlight for me, as well as the women singing in Trenchtown.

You start to smile, you’re intrigued, you come to believe music does link us all together, that it’s an alternative world from the politics dominating the discussion today. Somehow everybody got the message, everybody has commonality, everybody’s on the same page.

You almost feel like it’s the sixties again.

But that was fifty years ago.

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