Tag Archives: Wilco

The Weight

Bruce Springsteen found a classy way to pay tribute to the late Levon Helm at last night’s Newark show:

Sounds like at least half the people in the stadium were singing along. It reminded me that the first time I really listened to this song was when I bought Before the Flood, right at the start of what would turn out to be a lifelong Bob Dylan obsession. The album hasn’t aged well, but I will always have a soft spot in my heart for it because I realized I’d already heard “The Weight” and “Up On Cripple Creek” at some point and gotten the choruses wound into the cellular structure of my brain.

It also got me thinking of what other artists have done with the song. Aretha Franklin, for instance:

Nice little slide guitar intro from Duane Allman. Gives Aretha the perfect launch platform for her vocals.

And then there’s this version from Gillian Welch:

This is a performance from last summer, with Levon joining Wilco on the stage. At about 3:39 Levon’s voice falters and his daughter smoothly steps in to complete the verse. The grin on her father’s face speaks volumes:

Finally, a performance from The Band itself, in its prime:

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Blue Monday

My idea of an ideal double bill would be Nels Cline opening for Television, with Cline joining Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd for an all-out threesome on “Marquee Moon.” Cline, who’s been Wilco’s lead guitarist since 2004, has a fondness for sheer noise that I find hard to resist. Here he is in his all-instrumental group, the Nels Cline Singers, playing “Vamp”:

Talk about sheets of sound — not for nothing did Cline team with drummer Gregg Bendian to recast John Coltrane’s Interstellar Space as a skronky guitar excursion:

If Interstellar Space Revisited seems a little forbidding — and late period Coltrane is very forbidding indeed — then Cline’s new disc Coward might offer you a good introduction to the Nels Cline universe. It includes “Thurston County,” a chiming tribute to Sonic Youth guitarist Thurston Moore: 

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