Finally, reaching way back, when you wrote “The Weight” and referenced “Nazareth” someone at The Martin Guitar Company told me you meant Nazareth, Pennsylvania, where their guitars are from. Not the birthplace of that famous baby.
I remember sitting around and trying to write that song. I wanted to take people on a journey, someplace they hadn’t been before. I stopped and looked into the sound hole of my guitar, and it being a Martin, the first thing I saw was the word Nazareth. It was one of those lucky accidents that just seemed absolutely perfect. The new album is like that, too. Sometimes, the most mystical, accidental stuff, is exactly what you need. And it helps to get the whole thing rolling.
– Q&A with Peter Gerstenzang for American Songwriter
Survived Arkansas, survived the road, survived cancer. Today’s his birthday. Keep a going, Levon Helm. Here are some perfectly phrased snips of tunes that never leave your head once they’ve entered.
1. “It just old Luke, and Luke’s waiting on the judgement day.” – The Weight
2. “The bourbon is 100 proof.” – Rag Mama Rag
3. “And before the leaves all turn brown, before they tumble to the ground…” – All La Glory
4. “So to his father Daniel did run, and he said ‘Oh father what have I done?” – Daniel & the Sacred Harp
5. “If I were a barker in a girly show, tell you what I’d do…” – Jemima Surrender
6. “And like my brother above me, who took a rebel stand.” – The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down
7. “Everybody says you oughta marry that rich man down the line.” – Strawberry Wine
8. “Was it something that somebody said? Mama I know we broke the rules.” – Ophelia
9. “Oh those mighty kings of the jungle, I can hardly stand to see ‘em.” – When I Paint My Masterpiece
10. “Pick a card before you go, it’s a long trip to Mexico.” – Yazoo Street Scandal
From Bill Haley to Dr. Feelgood, lots of rock ‘n’ rollers tried their hand at Robert Guidry’s early ditty – even the prime time clowns of Welkville. Silliness has always been a reliable part of the pop firmament, I guess. But Bobby Charles, who has died, has lots of other great songs besides his first hit. It’s the self-titled stoner CD that he cut with the Band in Woodstock in ’72 (he brought the bayou vibe north with him) that still makes it to my speakers at least once a month. Though his stuff was best known through interpreters – Fats singing “Walking To New Orleans” or Geoff Muldaur singing “Tennessee Blues” – he had a sweet little growl of his own.
“I wanna go out dancing every night/and I wanna see all the city lights/and I wanna do everything that I’ve been told/but I’ve got to hurry up before I grown old.”
He must be in a good place now.