Levon Helm (May 26, 1940 — April 19, 2012)

Levon Helm died today at the age of 71. Here’s a spectacular photograph of Helm that Siege made at the legendary musician’s studio, The Barn, in Woodstock (for Rolling Stone magazine) a few years ago:

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Photo by Clayton James Cubitt.

On heavy rotation today: “Up on Cripple Creek“, “The Shape I’m In“, “The Weight“, “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down“, various nuggets from Helm’s Midnight Ramble concerts, and, last but not least, “Ophelia“. (“Ashes of laughter / The ghost is clear / Why do the best things always disappear?”)

There’s never been a voice or a soul quite like Helm’s in popular music, and there never will be again. (He was, of course, a very generous and intuitive drummer, too.) Here’s a transcript excerpt from The Band’s concert film The Last Waltz, directed by Scorcese –a film which Helm later famously decried (though, comfortingly, his longstanding feud with bandmate Robbie Robertson appears to have been put to rest shortly before Helm’s death)– but the quote’s just too perfect:

LEVON HELM: Bluegrass and country music … if it comes down into that area and if it mixes there with the rhythm and if it dances, then you’ve got a combination of all that music …

MARTIN SCORSESE: What’s it called?

LEVON HELM: Rock and roll.

Pure and good and true. Thank you for that, Levon Helm. Rest in peace.

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