Hi everyone. Hope you are all well and continue to stay that way during this global health crisis we are facing. But in addition to protecting your physical wellness, what are you doing to stay mentally healthy today?
(Image found online. Original source unknown.)
I know we are in a serious situation, but I need a break from the gloom, doom and bullying by way of hoarding. Music has always been my refuge and watching those beautiful Italians singing to each other from their balconies reaffirmed my belief that music is the answer. So until the old normal returns, I am going to share a song I listen to that helps me escape the current state of things, if only for a few minutes each day. And if this helps anyone else, even better.
Six months have now passed since the pandemic came into our lives. I will refrain from using the terms that have become our new language and just say as difficult as this time has been, I am thankful for this outlet because it has given me back the magic of music. Listening to songs and artists I somehow lost track of or denied myself the joy of because I felt obligated to put others first in enabling ways or because of work or domestic monotony or anything else “I was supposed to do”. Well this time has taught me I come first-finally-and I will no longer deny that nor will I apologize for it. In the middle of a pandemic, I found me. How can I not be grateful for that? So, to quote Casey Kasem, on with the music. And a virtual road trip to clear out the cobwebs.
The voices I have heard in music have affected me in different ways. Some were subtle, some were intense and some were massive. Today’s singers fall into the last category. The first time I heard The Band, I fell in love with not one but three distinct beautiful voices-the ones belonging to Rick Danko, Levon Helm & Richard Manuel. Danko’s vocal on “Long Black Veil“, Helm’s vocal on “The Weight” (see day 60) and Manuel’s vocal on “I Shall Be Released“, with each of the other singers providing harmony on those songs, is some of the most remarkable music I have ever heard. After the original group broke up in 1976, the three singers along with fellow bandmate, multi-instrumentalist Garth Hudson, reformed as a band in 1983. And despite the heartbreaking loss of Manuel in 1986 to suicide after an ongoing battle with drug & alcohol addiction, the other three members carried on.
Every time I heard their music or saw one of the singers, I felt at home. I remember sitting in a movie theatre watching “The Big Chill” and doing an internal cartwheel as soon as I heard the acoustic guitar intro to “The Weight” during the breakfast scene where every one gets their running shoes. Or when I was in the same theatre watching “Coal Miner’s Daughter” and seeing Levon Helm on the big screen as Loretta Lynn’s father, Ted Webb. Or whenever I needed to see “The Last Waltz” just one more time.
Danko died of heart failure in 1999 which is when this stunning group ended their career for good. Helm kept acting, performing and making music on his own, right up until he died in 2012 from cancer. With all three of these beautiful voices gone now, there is a place inside my soul that just yearns for them. Their contribution to music in general and my world specifically, is immeasurable, despite the efforts of others to downplay or forget their roles in one of the most extraordinary bands to ever make music.
“Everything dies, baby, that’s a fact
But maybe everything that dies someday comes back
Put your makeup on, fix your hair up pretty
And meet me tonight in Atlantic City“.
The Band: “Atlantic City” (1993, written by Bruce Springsteen).
I do not own the rights to anything. I am just sharing what I love and how I am coping with you.