August 1, 2021

Peter Stone Brown Archives

Archives of musician and writer

Levon Helm – Dirt Farmer

Read the article at Counter Punch

The Return of Levon Helm


The first time most people heard Levon Helm sing was way back in 1968 when The Band released Music From Big Pink. You had to wait until the end of side one to hear him, and the song was the album’s most accessible, “The Weight.” The song was at once out front but also vague and mysterious in a Dylan-esque sort of way. Helm’s voice was an immediate grabber drawing you into the lyrics in which the singer always seemed to lose. His voice summoned all of American roots-based music all at once, country, blues, folk, gospel, somehow adding up to rock ‘n’ roll and perfect for storytelling. Helm’s storytelling would later be put to excellent use in the film, The Right Stuff as well as a couple of music documentaries, one detailing the music to be found on Highway 61.