photo credit: aaron.knox via photopin cc



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Thursday, May 3, 2012

dirt farmer

Toads, my friends, today we are playing tribute to the great Levon Helm, Grammy winner, multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, producer, drummer and actor, who passed away on April 19.

 photo of Levon Helm by Jay Wright
and posted on John Hiatt's Facebook page

Levon Helm gained fame as drummer and frequent singer for The Band, highlighted on seminal works such as "The Weight," "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down," and "Up On Cripple Creek." Growing up in Arkansas, the son of a cotton farmer, Levon listened to the Grand Ole Opry on the radio and saw his first live concert, Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys, at age six, about which he said: "This really tattooed my brain. I've never forgotten it."

Certainly many people, maybe even some Toads, would say that same thing about Levon Helm. "Americana and folklore themes, heart-wrenching ballads filled with naked emotion, majestic harmonies, hard-driving rhythms, and exquisite instrumentation" drew listeners to The Band and later to The Midnight Ramble Sessions and Levon's two highly acclaimed studio albums, Dirt Farmer (2007) and Electric Dirt (2009).


I could go on, but great volumes are available online about Levon Helm and his vast influence. If you are unfamiliar, please do click the links and learn more about this great American artist.

Our song today is "Poor Old Dirt Farmer," which I love for its pure sound and poetic truthiness. Please take a listen.



For today's prompt, please take inspiration from this song or any of the songs in Levon's catalogue. If you are a fan, or even if Levon Helm is new to you, feel free to take inspiration from any aspect of his songs or his life that touches you. Thank you for your attention and reverence, friends, and I can't wait to read what you write.

21 comments:

Margaret said...

I've done a tiny bit of research on a man I've never heard of. Listened to a few songs, read a few articles and Levon Helm has a new fan. Thanks, Marian, and I will do my best.

Marian said...

oh keep with it, you won't be sorry. holy cow you will not.

hedgewitch said...

Been a fan since Music from Big Pink--no one had a voice like his--it doesn't matter how many times you hear the songs, you get that catch in your throat that only the great ones give you. Thanks for the tribute to a man with a great gift, Marian.

Kerry O'Connor said...

I loved this song! It encapsulates for me the true grit of the American spirit - it is unique. The humour of the lyrics had me chuckling too..rolling a stone down to pay the land taxes, and the tread-shaped head.
Wonderful prompt - I really am looking forward to reading the responses.

Marian said...

i love it, too. for me, it has an almost hypnotic quality. i must have listened to it 47 times last night :)

Daydreamertoo said...

I've listened to a few of his songs now. He has a really great voice. read a bit of his life story too and he stayed true to his roots. I love that he preferred to stay home to be there for his daughter giving birth rather than go to the Grammy awards. He certainly lived a real life and not like some of these artists who lose all sense of the real world.
Great prompt. Will certainly listen to more of his music now, yes, he has another new fan.

Helen said...

Great video! Took me back to childhood and the hours, days, months I helped out on my grandparent's farm. Wonderful memories ...

Kay L. Davies said...

Oh, how I loved "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down"! I spent ages humming na na-na na na na.
I hope I can make something of this prompt. Thanks, Marian.
K

Lolamouse said...

I could listen to The Band forever. It's the first time I've ever heard this song, though. Thanks. I'll be back to do this one after my weekend of mediation training (last one!)

Marian said...

oh, i'm glad you like this, friends. in a wholly different genre, i am very sad because i just got news that Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys has died. but i won't make a Beastie Boys prompt, and also, i won't turn our music prompt into a memorial every time :)

Laurie Kolp said...

I loved the song, too... reminds me of the kind of music I used to listen to. Thanks, Marian.

shawnacy said...

excellent.
my take was slightly off-the-path, but tried to stay true to the 'harsh realities' theme.

First draft is done, but it needs some tuning up.
post ensuing, tomorrow or someday.

thanks, marian!

Marian said...

gosh, so far these totally knock me out. and now i have what might be a hair-brained idea, which is to send a link to our tributes (to this post) to Levon's FB page in the hopes that his wife and family see it. what do you think, toads?

Mary Ann Potter said...

I never heard of this man till today, but I loved the song! The Williams store I used as my poem's setting is about a half a mile from our farm.

W.k. kortas said...

This entry may be taking liberties with the notion of taking liberties.

Hannah said...

I love his music! Thank you, for this glimpse of him and this chance to write about his music. Smiles!

Marian said...

what a fun day and i'm so thrilled that you all like this. yippee!
excuse me now though, friends, i have to go listen to that song 47 more times.
MORE ACCORDION PLEASE!

hedgewitch said...

It's hard for me to write to music prompts, especially music that to me seems to have better lyrics than my own poetry, ;_) but I finally came up with something from out of the haunts of the past...a bit darker than Helm's later life and music, I'm afraid. To me, his is profoundly a story of life and hope winning--it's no reflection on his artistry if my poem seems to go in a bit of a different direction.

Susie Clevenger said...

I have been struggling with my muse lately..but I did come up with something.

Fireblossom said...

I broke the rules. (I know, hard to believe, right?) I don't know from levon Helm except for the song you posted, which was too earnest for a fluffbrain like me, so I went with Dylan. I hope you'll allow me the leap cos i did want to do your prompt.

Marian said...

i'm so pleased and motivated by the response to this prompt, it's just wonderful. feels like the music prompt has legs now, people like it! i really wasn't sure if it would work. so, two things, if anyone's still clicking back to read this: (1) i did post a link to RT on Levon Helm's FB page, so if you see errant hits on your blogs, maybe someone's reading, and (2) if anyone ever has a strong opinion or idea for a music prompt, please let me know! i am trying hard to represent different genres and such, but in the end, it's all just my taste and who i know about. so let me know! xo