I wanted to write all of this before he passed. I wanted to thank him for the way he sang, and for the throb of his drums, and for the way he helped point the way home for all of us who thought we’d lost our country. He brought us back to what was really important: the fugitive grace of a young democracy, that America, for all its flaws and shortcomings, for all its loss of faith in itself and its stubborn self-delusions, was a country that was meant to rock. For that, I return his salute from long ago. Thank you, neighbor. And godspeed.
I’m not sure you’ll encounter a better encapsulation of what Levon Helm’s music was all about. Luckily, he and Robbie Robertson were able to make up in time. There’s something I can’t quite put my finger on regarding my feelings about the eventual passing of Levon Helm. There’s a sadness surrounding this moment unlike the indifference over the news that Dick Clark died.