Tag Archives: The Band

Testing My Toussaint Knowledge

12 Nov

The other day, I was giving a test when word of Allen Toussaint’s death came across my computer screen. The news struck me for a couple of reasons.Toussaint

First, the test included questions about Toussaint Charbonneau and L’Ouverture. What are the chances to that many people named Toussaint being on my mind in one day? For those who may not know, Charbonneau was the husband of Sacagawea, and L’Ouverture led the slave rebellion that would result in Haiti becoming a nation.

Second, I have a great song by Allen Toussaint on my iPod. It is called “Sweet Touch of Love” and was introduced to me by a television commercial.

I take pride in my knowledge of music, but all I knew of the musical Toussaint was that one song. After reading about him, I discovered that he was a legendary New Orleans musician who sang, wrote, produced and worked in almost all areas of the music business. I also learned that there are more Toussaint songs on my iPod that I realized. In addition to the song previously mentioned, he wrote, produced or played on the following songs in my collection.

“Southern Nights” by Glen Campbell

“Lady Marmalade” by Labelle

“Working in a Coal Mine” by Lee Dorsey

“The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” by The Band

“Right Place Wrong Time” by Dr. John

There must be others because I have learned that Allen Toussaint was a major force in music for many years. I wish I had known that earlier. Now, I have to find out what I have been missing.


My iPod Has Issues – Losing Bill Dance and Finding Eddie Feigner

24 Sep

We are having a garage sale, and everyone knows what that means. We are dragging out stuff that we forgot we had. Some of it is coming from the attic. Some of it is coming from our closets. Some of it is coming from the Land of Discarded Items.

In the process, I am giving up the autographed Bill Dance t-shirt that I got when the famed fisherman made an appearance at the Hollywood Casino in Tunica, Mississippi. It is definitely a sacrifice to give up something that cool.

However, some cool things are staying. While digging for artifacts, I came across a booklet celebrating the 25th Anniversary of The King and His Court. If that name does not mean anything to you, then let me explain. Eddie Feigner was a fast pitch softball pitcher who traveled the world with a four-man team. They took on all comers and won over 9,000 games. Along the way, Eddie “The King”  Feigner did tricks with the ball. There are a few people around here who played against them. I need to collect stories and write a post about them.

Anyway, we have dragged a bunch of stuff into the garage and are ready to do business. Hopefully, we will make some money. Every quarter counts.image-2

To commemorate the event, I have decided to look into my iPod and see what it is doing.

“Be Careful Who You Love (Arthur’s Song)” by Hank Williams, Jr.

“For the Good Times” by Isaac Hayes

“Judy” by Frank Howard

“Hardline” by Tom Kimmel

“Memphis Exorcism” by Squirrel Nut Zippers

“Clubbed to Death” by Rob Dougan

“Up On Cripple Creek” by The Band

“Kansas City Shuffle” by J. Ralph

“Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon and Garfunkel

“Alone Again” by Dokken

“Ohio” by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young

“Ruby (Are You Mad at Your Man)” by The Osbourne Brothers

“I Wanna Ummm With You” by Stacy Mitchhart

“Thirteen” by Big Star

“Still and Always Will” by Vintage Trouble

“T for Texas” by Tompall Glaser

“Dazed and Confused” by Led Zeppelin

“The Peacocks” by Howard Alden

“The Wind, The Wind” by Dean Martin

“Tomorrow Never Comes” by Ernest Tubb

Levon Helm

29 Sep

The latest edition of American Songwriter has a great story about the late Levon Helm, which made me purchase my first ever copy.

Like a lot of other people, I read about Helm’s passing earlier this year, and, for some reason, it struck me enough to read more about who he was. As it turns out, I knew all about him before I knew about him. Doesn’t make sense? Then, I’ll put it this way. I had been enjoying the talents of Levon Helm all of my life and never realized it.

To me, the most entertaining songs are the ones that tell a story and allow me to direct a scene in my mind. Two songs that attracted my attention as a kid were performed by The Band and, unknown to me at the time, sung by Helm. One was “The Weight“, with lyrics that took me into a world that was just a little different from the real one. My favorite part went:

I picked up my bag and I went lookin’ for a place to hide

When I saw Carmen and the Devil walkin’ side by side

And I said, “Hey, Carmen, come on, would you go downtown”

And she said, “Well, I gotta go but my friend can stick around”

The entire song is great, but that line always stuck with me. The Band also performed “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down“, a song about the destruction caused by the Civil War. Maybe, it’s because I live in the South. Maybe, it’s because I am a historian. But, I agree with the magazine article that this song should be played for every class about the Civil War. It is a haunting song with lines like:

Back with my wife in Tennessee, when one day she called to me

“Virgil, quick, come see, there go the Robert E. Lee”

Now I don’t mind choppin’ wood, and I don’t care if the money’s no good

Ya take what ya need and ya leave the rest

But they should never have taken the very best.

As I read about Helm’s career, I realized that there was one thing I needed to do to honor him. I had to see The Last Waltz, the movie about the last concert of The Band that is considered to be the greatest concert film ever made. Luckily, the Belcourt, Nashville’s historic theater, was going to give me the opportunity. As the movie played, I realized a couple of things. Helm was the soul of The Band, and Robbie Robertson thought he was the soul of The Band. The movie focused on Robertson and missed the real story. No wonder the two men never got along after its filming.

But, here’s the thing. I had seen Helm in movies before and never realized it. I have seen The Right Stuff numerous times and never realized that he narrated the movie and played Jack Ridley, the best friend of Chuck Yeager.

He also play Mr. Rate in Shooter, a movie where Mark Wahlberg is framed for the assassination of the president. I know that it sounds dumb on the surface. However, I promise that it is good, Helm plays in the most memorable scene.

As I wrote, I knew Levon Helm before I really knew him. He sang some of my favorite songs, and he acted in some of my favorite movies. It was only after his death that I realized that he was more than a singer and an actor. He was the foundation of one of the greatest bands ever assembled. His talent altered music. In short, he was Levon.