The first time I ever heard Levon Helm’s voice was on a jukebox in a bar in New York City in the summer of 1968. That voice took me home, back to the South, where I was born. The song was “The Weight”, and I’d never heard anything quite like it. My friends and I were startled by it, put another quarter in the machine and played it again. The record sounded like roots music, sort of, like Dylan, sort of — like the past and the future tripping off in a graceful dance, in perfect harmony with each other. You got used to surprises in 1968 — but hearing this record was one of the most delightful of them. It made me think, “America is going to be all right.”

And maybe some sweet day you will walk that Milky Way . . .

Goodbye, Levon, and thanks.


  1. Yeah, sad to watch these giants depart.

    Sad also that back then we thought that not just America, but the world, was headed somewhere wonderful – only to watch the dreams depart.

  2. Thank you for this, Lloyd. I came to your site today because I knew you’d have something on Levon. The shows he was playing with that big happy family of a band in recent years were the most joyous I’ve ever seen.

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