Honoring Levon Helm... Singer, Songwriter, Legend among the greatest
Blog Posted:1/20/2014 2:32:00 PM
I was at my brother's for a minute this weekend and we were listening to "Dirt Farmer" by Levon Helm. Nette's blog about album covers got me thinking back on it. It's amazing, the opportunities we sometimes have but let slip away.
My brother and I are both hardcore Levon Helm fans. My great-grandfather, Sidney Dollar, had a sister named Nell. Nell married a man named Jasper "Diamond" Helm. Diamond and Nell are Levon's(Actually, his nam was Mark Lavon Helm) parents. My grandmother talks about playing with "cousin Levon" when they were kids. Levon grew up in Marvell, AR (also known as Turkey Scratch)...about 40 miles from where we live. I never realized what a huge hand he had in the music industry until I was in my twenties. I was maybe 18 the last time I saw him at a family reunion. The family used to say, "Yeah, old Levon, he's been in a couple of movies..." Well, yeah, he has..."Coal Miner's Daughter", "The Right Stuff", "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada", "The Shooter" (the one with Mark Wahlberg) He also had a role as a Confederate General in the 2009 movie, "In the Electric Mist". BUT SO WHAT!...how come we were adults before we found out that "cousin Levon" was a founding member of the Canadian music group, "The Band". Howcome I didn't know he played with Conway Twitty when he was 17, or toured with Bob Dylan during Dylan's infamous "electric" era? Of course, the fans hated Dylan's electric era and Levon ran back to Arkansas until they called him back to start on a new album. Why didn't I know that this man performed at Woodstock, OR with people like Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Muddy Waters...and on and on and on. Why didn't I know that it was him singing the song, "Up on Cripple Creek"?...among many others, or that Elton John wrote a song about him? Why didn't I know he had won Grammy Awards?...three before his death in 2012. How did I miss the news that he was on Rolling Stone's list in 2008 of, "100 Greatest Singers of All Time" Shouldn't I have known that he was buddies with Billy Bob Thorton? That Dave Matthews recorded his first records on Levon's farm?! Voted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame...given the lifetime acheivement award by the Recording Academy. This man got throat cancer, lost his voice, got it back, learned how to sing again, and won two more Grammys....and all I ever did was eat fried chicken and shoot the bull with him at a family reunion ... like he was just another average joe ... and I guess that's one thing that is cool looking back on it, he never said otherwise. Though, he could have been like, "Hey, Caleb, I'm a rock and roll legend...thought you'd like to know."
Anyhow, I wish I could go back and jam with him, just once.
Poetry is in the blood.