Wednesday morning, I had John Allen's WFMU show on in the background. To finish the show, he played one Band song, then another. Something was up. Sure enough, Levon Helm's family had posted a message on his website that Levon was in the last stages of cancer, and they asked for prayers and support from his fans. Last night, or very early this morning, I heard a version of "The Weight" by Cassandra Wilson on the Newark jazz station WGBO. And when I got back from work tonight, the news was confirmed. Levon Helm died today. You can find plenty of tributes to Levon all over the internet. The photo above comes from a Spanish language website.
In 1978, I was just a stupid kid who thought "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" was a song by Joan Baez until I saw The Last Waltz at the Coast Guard Academy in New London with my brother and a few homesick cadets (it was Thanksgiving weekend). A week or so later, I bought The Band at Caldors in the Norwichtown Mall during my break from the drug store where I worked. I've been listening to his music ever since. So long Levon, Rick, and Richard.