Professor Harold Bloom writes of The Band’s classic, The Weight:
The song is part of what I call the American Religion, which is neither Christian nor non-Christian but a mix of things, including 17th-century Enthusiasm. No American ever really feels free unless he or she is alone, and there’s something of that solitary quality in “The Weight.”
Levon Helm, The Band’s lead singer and drummer, was from Arkansas—the rest were from Canada—and he was the heart and soul of the enterprise, even though Robbie Robertson wrote the song. Ultimately, “The Weight” is border music—a combination of regional musical influences—and has an authentic riverboat sound.
But the beauty of “The Weight” isn’t solely in the lyrics, which are almost surrealistic, or in the music. Instead, it’s the strange flavor that emanates from them. It’s a song that is more than the sum of its parts and suggests it doesn’t quite know itself. In the end, “The Weight” catches something about the contradictions and difficulties of authentic American spirituality.
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