Thursday, April 19, 2012

Prick Tunes: Levon Helm "Poor Old Dirt Farmer"

News came out yesterday that Levon Helm is about to succumb to cancer, a disease that has been a central part of his life since he first found that he'd gotten throat cancer in the 1990s. In recent years, it was assumed that he had beaten the throat cancer as he'd begun recording and touring again, putting out the two stellar proper albums Dirt Farmer and Electric Dirt in 2007 and 2009 and the live hoot album Ramble at the Ryman in 2011. Robbie Robertson assumed the same, releasing this statement about his former bandmate:

Last week I was shocked and so saddened to hear that my old band mate, Levon, was in the final stages of his battle with cancer. It hit me really hard because I thought he had beaten throat cancer and had no idea that he was this ill. I spoke with his family and made arrangements to go and see him.
On Sunday I went to New York and visited him in the hospital. I sat with Levon for a good while, and thought of the incredible and beautiful times we had together. It was heartwarming to be greeted by his lovely daughter Amy, whom I have known since she was born. Amy’s mother, Libby Titus, and her husband, Donald Fagen, were so kind to help walk me through this terrible time of sadness. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife Sandy.
Levon is one of the most extraordinary talented people I’ve ever known and very much like an older brother to me.  I am so grateful I got to see him one last time and will miss him and love him forever.
Robbie Robertson
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A couple years back, I got the chance to see Levon Helm. Under doctor's orders he wasn't allowed to sing, a fact that I definitely viewed as a red flag at the time, but seeing him at the time was still such a pleasure, as he still had such a luminary presence on stage.

I'm glad I got to see him when I did as he brought so much joy to the show. His work with Bob Dylan, The Band, and on his own goes down as some of the most impressive in the history of rock music. He will be missed.

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