There are two ways that you can be a great singer, one is more reliant on technical ability; the vocal range, the timbre (lets call this the Paul McCartney side for the sake of argument) and the latter is perhaps even harder, to live in your songs to make the experience both universal and truly heartfelt. Like Lennon, Levon Helm was among the latter and he left an indelible mark on American rock music with his plaintive gruff vocals. When you think of The Band, you immediately think of songs like “The Weight”, “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”, “Up On Cripple Creek”, and “Ophelia”.  All of which had Levon Helm’s Arkansas bred hands all over them. Yet this performance of “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” might be his finest moment, it would be simple to marvel alone at his ability as a drummer to sing as well as he played, but moreover you get the sense that Levon Helm was in the Civil War himself, a marvel against time ( in part due to Robbie Robertson’s fine lyrics) come to represent the ever burning hope of man. Robertson made a point to focus not on what the war’s issues were, but the theme of what war does. This is Levon Helm’s legacy, and the world will be lit a little dimmer without him in it.

The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down (Live)-The Band

Ophelia- The Band

Up On Cripple Creek- The Band 

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