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I can’t imagine what it must have been like to be musician Levon Helm.
So much raw talent, so much enthusiasm for what he did in life, so many loyal friends and anonymous admirers… and yet so much personal and professional frustration.
Most of us know Helm best from the 1978 Martin Scorsese documentary, The Last Waltz, which captured the break up of The Band, in which Helm was a vital part alongside Robbie Robertson, Rick Danko and the rest.
JAMIE MALANOWSKI podcast excerpt: “While so many others were pushing the limits of content and recording styles in the 1970s, these five guys in The Band — four Canadians and Levon Helm, from Arkansas — went back to roots, Americana music and played the fiddle, the old organ, and went back to country, rhythm and blues, gospel at a time when America was being ripped apart.”
The Band, for those who don’t know the ubiquitously named rock outfit, was long known for backing first Ronnie Hawkins and then Bob Dylan for many, many years before establishing its own brand.
The breakup of The Band — and, in particular, Robertson’s role in tearing it asunder — left Helm bitter and frustrated for most of the next 35 years before his death on April 19, 2012.
Jamie Malanowski, former editor at Spy, Esquire and Time, has written an ebook, The Book of Levon: The Trials and Triumphs of Levon Helm. It catches us up on the post-Last Waltz life of Helm. It’s a profile of a man who, though often down on his luck, never let go of his musical gifts and always found a way to keep the world entertained.
Along the way, he engendered a tremendous amount of loyalty, too.
You can download The Book of Levon right now for as little as $2.99 from Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble.
This is Malanowski’s second visit to Mr. Media; he was last here to discuss his fascinating Abraham Lincoln history, And The War Came: The Six Months That Tore America Apart.