Levon Helm

The Popdose Podcast: Episode 23 – Levon Helm

Levon Helm

We were so torn apart by the death of Levon Helm that we broke out of the stupor that had kept us from doing a Popdose Podcast since November. We were also so upset that not once did it occur to us to make a mom joke. And this was in a memorial to the guy who sang “Rag Mama Rag.”

Still, when we decided to do this show we knew it would be tough to get Jason involved. As Jeff explains, he’s been on paternity leave lately after his wife gave birth to a beautiful baby girl (congrats!). And we also figured that Jason wouldn’t have much to about him given that Levon, to the best of our knowledge, never worked with George Michael or Richard Marx.

Instead, we reached out to a member of the Popdose family, Judd Marcello, to help us out. Judd’s only written one piece for us, an account of his trip to one of Levon’s Midnight Rambles, but it’s one of our most beloved pieces. That makes him Popdose’s equivalent of Jim Mason (a cookie goes to whoever gets that reference). Judd’s knowledge, insight and enthusiasm are on full display, and we hope he writes more for us soon.

So give this a listen. We’ve sprinkled in some classic songs from throughout Levon Helm’s career – from The Basement Tapes to his career resurgence in his last decade. We can only hope that we did justice to the legacy of music he left us in his 45-year career. Rest in peace, Levon. We miss you already.

The Popdose Podcast, Episode 23: Levon Helm (1:13:07, 67.0 MB), featuring Jeff Giles and Dave Lifton, with special guest Judd Marcello.
Download from null
You can also subscribe to the podcast’s RSS feed.

Intro

Music: “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” by The Band (from The Last Waltz).

0:45 Judd talks about his discovery of The Band and his experiences at three Midnight Rambles (here’s his famous 6,000-word piece about his first). We also discuss how Levon’s authenticity was important to the success of The Band. (Music: “The Weight” from Music From Big Pink)

19:46 Jeff asks Dave how he got into The Band, which involved seeing The Last Waltz on PBS. We talk about the movie and the staggering amount of cocaine involved. Then Jeff talks about his introduction to The Band. (Music: “Don’t Ya Tell Henry” from The Basement Tapes)

29:31 Judd talks about how the Midnight Rambles are an extension of Levon’s sense of community, and admits to stalking Dawes across two continents. (Music: “Tennessee Jed” from Dirt Farmer)

42:43 Dave talks about Levon’s unique drumming and Judd makes us even more jealous by saying that Garth Hudson was at one of the Rambles he went to. (Music: “Up On Cripple Creek” from The Band).

51:51 We discuss the impending mortality of all of our music heroes. (Music: “Atlantic City” from Jericho)

54:57 We offer our final thoughts about Levon. Jeff mentions Joe Henry’s tribute called “Gone / Not Gone: Levon Helm In Motion.” Dave talks about how Levon’s singing was inherently empathetic (something comedian Rob Delaney also said). Judd says that there was no difference between and his music. In between it all, Jeff and Dave argue. A lot. (Music: “Ophelia” from  Northern Lights – Southern Cross)

Wrappin’ It Up

Judd offers to bring us pie!




  • http://twitter.com/jukebox65 Stacy

    Insightful, funny and also reverent.

  • http://www.popdose.com/ Ted

    I’m a very casual fan of The Band, but like Judd, my introduction to their music was “The Weight.”  That said…your collective love of Levon Helm has made me want to start listening more of his solo work, and start spinning Music from Big Pink again.  

  • Steve

    Welcome back fuckers.  Who do we have to kill to get a podcast out of you in the next six months?

  • http://thesixonefournine.com/ judd6149

    get back in there Ted … so much buried treasure throughout their catalogue … even later stuff. Enjoy.

  • http://thesixonefournine.com/ judd6149

    hmm … something to do with me joining up on the cast this time, maybe?

  • DanShort

    Not a bad show other than the relative youth of the partcipants. I bought Pink when it was first released on and album in the 60’s and reveled in it from the beginning. All of you discovered the Band after the fact and didn’t really feel their impact live.
    I do think that Robbie and Levon where the leaders together and not just Levon.
    Interesting that you mention the Hawk in the background at the Last Waltz. Even Presiden Clinton mentioned him. He certainly had an impact on the band and Levon.
    All in all, as a Canadian the show didn’t suck.
    Dan