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From the Vault: The Great Levon Helm

Editor’s Note: The Daily Music Break will increasing re-post old material, which makes sense because there is so much great music embedded in them. This particular post originally appeared on March 13, 2012. That’s about a month before Levon Helm passed away. Obviously, it would be written completely differently today. But, by the same token, there is no reason to change it. I did rewrite the headline and make another small edit.


It’s hard not to like Levon Helm. The Band was said to be one of the most important in rock and roll history. I never really got that, but it didn’t mean I didn’t like them. Helm also is a cancer survivor, plays in schools to get kids interested in music and, from the looks of things, is an all-around good guy. It’s interesting that the people perceived to be nice seem to have the most sustained and successful careers.

Here is Helm’s band playing The Band song Ophelia.

It’s a terrific band. Here it is playing the Grateful Dead song Tennessee Jed on the Letterman show. Finally, here is a great clip from The Last Waltz of The Band doing The Weight with The Staple Singers.

Levon Helm Discography

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Here’s What’s Here

The Daily Music Break explores every genre of music, from hip hop to opera. It's simple: Boundaries are dumb. It's all good. Here is more about the site and here is our index:

--A Tribe Called Quest to The Dick Hyman Trio (In other words, A to H)

--Indigo Girls to Queen Ida (I to Q)

--Radiohead to ZZ Top (R to Z)

Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.


What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.


The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.