The meaning behind, 2

MN0103084July 26, 2019 — The Weight (The Band)

The Weight is my favorite song from The Band, the musicians who backed up Bob Dylan after the folk singer went electric in 1965. The song was recorded in 1968, appearing on the first album they recorded as a solo act. After 51 years, it’s still played on radio stations and other music streaming sources.

Two of my favorite performances of the song came from The Last Waltz, the Martin Scorsese film that documented The Band’s farewell tour when they performed the song with the Staple Singers in 1976, and from Late Night with Jimmy Fallon when Jimmy sang it with the Muppets in 2014. I had the opportunity to see the song performed live during one of Ring Starr’s All-Star Band performances when The Band’s Levin Helm joined Ring on tour.

The lyrics seemed biblical to me. Consider, “I pulled into Nazareth…” where the man can’t find a bed or a place to lay his head. Add the devil, Moses and even the mention of judgment day and there you’ll notice the religious significance.

One could also assume that “the weight” is a burden lifted from someone, as the lyrics suggest, “Take the load off Fanny … and you put the load right on me.” Not only that, what about those madcap characters, including Crazy Chester, young Anna Lee and Carmen, who walked side-by-side with the devil? What were they all about?

Turns out the Nazareth in the song isn’t the biblical town mentioned in the bible, but actually Nazareth, Pa., a town north of Philadelphia. The Band was on the road, pulled into Nazareth literally looking for a place to stay and couldn’t find a vacancy. The characters mentioned in the song were based on real people The Band members knew. Luke, the man waiting for the judgment day, was a guitarist in one of the member’s former bands, young Anna Lee was one of The Band member’s old friend from Turkey Scratch and Crazy Chester, was a resident of Fayetteville known for carrying a cap gun. Fayetteville and Turkey Scratch are both towns in Arkansas, the former of which is Levin Helm’s hometown.

According to songwriter Robbie Robertson, the song does have somewhat of religious meaning, but not to the extent I imagined. “It’s about the impossibility of sainthood,” he said. “I took my inspiration less from the bible than from Luis Buñuel, a Spanish filmmaker and master of surrealism who, for half of a century, poked fun at the hypocrisies of religion, patriarchy and middle-class culture.”

The title, The Weight, according to Robertson, explores a similar theme. “Someone says, listen, would you do me this favor?” he said. “When you get there, will you say ‘hello’ to somebody or will you give somebody this or will you pick up one of these for me? … So the guy goes and one thing leads to another and it’s like ‘Holy shit, what’s this turned into? I’ve only come here to say ‘hello’ for somebody and I’ve got myself in this incredible predicament.’”

There is also a bit of drama surrounding the song. While Robertson is the credited writer, Helm, who sang the song, insisted that the composition of lyrics and music was collaborative, declaring that each band member contributed significantly to it.

The Weight
I pulled into Nazareth, was feeling ’bout half past dead
I just need some place where I can lay my head
Hey, mister, can you tell me, where a man might find a bed?
He just grinned and shook my hand, “No” was all he said.

Take a load off Fanny, take a load for free
Take a load off Fanny, and you put the load right on me

I picked up my bags, I went looking for a place to hide
When I saw old Carmen and the Devil, walking side by side
I said, “Hey, Carmen, c’mon, let’s go downtown”
She said, “I got to go, but my friend can stick around”

Take a load off Fanny, take a load for free
Take a load off Fanny, and you put the load right on me

Go down, Miss Moses, isn’t nothing’ you can say
It’s just old Luke, and Luke’s waiting on the judgment day
Well, Luke, my friend, what about young Anna Lee
He said, “Do me a favor, son, won’t you stay and keep Anna Lee company”

Take a load off Fanny, take a load for free
Take a load off Fanny, and you put the load right on me

Crazy Chester followed me, and he caught me in the fog
Said, “I will fix your rag, if you’ll take Jack, my dog”
I said, “Wait a minute Chester, you know, I’m a peaceful man”
He said, “That’s okay, boy, won’t you feed him when you can”

Take a load off Fanny, take a load for free
Take a load off Fanny, and you put the load right on me

Catch the cannonball, now to take me down the line
My bag is sinking low, and I do believe it’s time
To get back to Miss Fanny, you know she’s the only one
Who sent me here, with her regards for everyone

Take a load off Fanny, take a load for free
Take a load off Fanny, and you put the load right on me

(Sources: https://www.shmoop.com/the-band-the-weight/meaning.html)

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The meaning behind

39272-adad2a9b76feaae9fb70dabc68d7b62c.jpgJuly 19, 2019 — My good friend could tell you a story about driving with me one stormy night in a worn-out car that couldn’t handle the windshield wipers and the radio on at the same time. Something had to go, and to her horror, I turned off the wipers.

Does that indicate the impact music has on me? I think so. I love how it brings out my emotions, takes me back in time to good and not so good memories and makes me tap my foot, shake my shoulders, dance, cry—or all of the above.

As a writer, it may not be surprising that lyrics are equally important to me. However, it is surprising how wrong I can be when I interpret the message behind the lyrics. In this series, I’ll highlight “the meaning behind” what the songwriter wanted to declare when he or she put pen to paper.

Norwegian Wood (The Beatles)

Norwegian Wood is one of my favorite Beatles’ songs, and it appears on one of my favorite Beatles’ albums, Rubber Soul. The John Lennon ballad was a huge milestone for the band, taking them from the pop sound of the early sixties to the first song to feature George on the sitar, which led the way to an entirely different sound.

To me, the song was about a man who met a woman (maybe at a bar), and after she decided not to sleep with him when they got back to her house, he slept in the bathtub. The next morning, she was gone, so he lit a fire to keep warm. Or, possibly he fired up a joint to ponder the events of the night before. Naïve, yes, but the music and the lyrics were so beautiful, and although you could detect frustration in the lyrics, how could it mean anything else?

Several years ago, my cousin told me he actually burned down the house at the end of the song. I didn’t want to believe that, but she reminded me of Lennon’s sarcastic wit, and after I did a bit of research, it turns out she was right.

The song was inspired by an extramarital affair Lennon had and the lyrics did mean that he burned down the house out of revenge. John and Paul both agreed it was a quirky song, sort of like an Irish folk song. And while the song and music belonged to John, Paul claims that he lyrically had the idea to burn down the house and takes some of the credit. Why does that last part surprise me?

After Norwegian Wood introduced pop music to the sitar, the rest of the world seemed to latch on to the craze, equating it with “flower power” and “free love” and the rest is history.

Norwegian Wood
I once had a girl

Or should I say she once had me
She showed me her room
Isn’t it good Norwegian wood?
She asked me to stay
And she told me to sit anywhere
So I looked around
And I noticed there wasn’t a chair
I sat on a rug biding my time
drinking her wine
We talked until two and then she said
“It’s time for bed”
She told me she worked
in the morning and started to laugh
I told her I didn’t
and crawled off to sleep in the bath
And when I awoke I was alone
This bird had flown
So I lit a fire
Isn’t it good Norwegian wood?

(Sources: http://www.thebeatlesbible.com and http://www.beatlesbooks.com)

Summer Breeze

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Summer

July 17, 2019 — To the boy who lived on Claridge Street around the corner,

It was the summer of 1974. You stood near the cash register at Lou’s Candy Store and made an impression on me that will last forever.

Perhaps you were buying something, or just stopping by for a visit because you were a friend of the owner’s son. I knew who you were the way you know all the kids in the neighborhood, but it was the first time I observed you closely.

I felt smitten as I watched you sing along to Seals and Croft’s “Summer Breeze” playing on the radio. It made me realize you were a kind soul even though your little sister had threatened to turn my little sister’s nose upside down so she’d drown when she took a shower.

After I shared that moment with you, our paths ever crossed again.

“Summer Breeze” played on the oldies station today, and I smiled remembering the boy who touched my heart that day, just like I do each time I hear it. Funny, your name escapes me, but I have never forgotten how you made me feel that perfect summer day all those years ago.

Change

How-to-lead-positive-change-in-your-businessJuly 6, 2019 — There are a lot of things in this world that would benefit from a change.

Since they’re too numerous to mention, and many are out of my control I’ll start with something simple.

I started this blog nearly nine years ago, and I know I’ve been away for a few months, but I feel inspired again. It’s the first real break I’ve taken.

During those nine years, I’ve only made two layout changes. Now, it’s time for something different, a facelift if you will, and although it might have been more appropriate to introduce a new look with the start of the new year, today felt right.

The kindness gene

kindnessJuly 6, 2019 – When Blanche Dubois uttered her famous line, “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers,” in A Streetcar Named Desire, I bet she didn’t know that one day there would be a scientific theory to explain why. Or rather, to explain that we can spot kindness in people we don’t know, and maybe she was drawn to strangers she sensed were kind.

According to research data published in 2011, people with a certain gene trait are known to be more kind and caring than people without it. Who knew?

This isn’t earth-shattering news, but what’s interesting about the research is that they’ve proven that if we have the kindness gene, it can be easily and quickly picked up by people who don’t even know us.

The research was conducted on average people, and not folks who go through life pinching babies and kicking dogs, where it is more than obvious they’re missing the kindness gene. Researchers at Oregon State University devised an experiment in which 23 couples, whose genotypes were known to them but not to observers were studied. These observers were asked to watch them converse in groups of two, and with the sound turned off, identify which listener had the kindness gene and which did not. In most cases, the observers chose correctly.

Finally, an explanation of why I’m always selected for jury duty.

Crescent moons, magazines and peppermint tea

downloadJuly 6, 2019– Anyone up for solving a mystery?

The song, My Favorite Things, from the musical The Sound of Music, is played at Christmas each year, and I’m not sure why. Aside from the lyrics “brown paper packages tied up with string, or snowflakes that fall on my nose and eyelashes” – and are both a stretch – there isn’t a reference to December 25 or any of its holiday traditions. Yet artists from Tony Bennett to Luther Vandross include it on their Christmas recordings.

And while we’re on the subject … the items Rogers and Hammerstein mention in their song are nice, they aren’t included on a list of my favorites. If I were to rewrite the song, I’d include the things below:

Curtains fluttering in the breeze
Early morning walks with my camera
Georgia O’Keeffe and Vincent Van Gogh paintings
Sunflowers and daisies
Crescent moons
Lighthouses
Sunsets at the beach
Crisp mornings in autumn
My brother-in-law’s margaritas
Long drives
Magazines and peppermint tea
Mack’s Pizza at the Jersey shore
Listening to Joni Mitchell on Sunday mornings
Haagen Daz vanilla ice cream
Warm towels straight from the dryer