Watch: Bruce Springsteen sings 'The Weight' as homage to The Band's Levon Helm
Since Levon Helm’s death April 19, various artists have been paying tribute to the Band’s drummer, whom many consider the greatest singing drummer in rock. As rocker Dave Edmunds once said: “Drummers shouldn’t sing unless they’re Levon Helm.”
At the second weekend of Coachella, John Fogerty joined The Black Keys for a bluesy, spirited version of “The Weight” on April 20.
Last night at Newark's Prudential Center, Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band also performed a lovely version of “The Weight.” As Springsteen concert attendees know, he’ll often take requests from fans’ signs and this apparently was one such request. However, given the quality of the version, and the horn arrangements and backing vocals, it is incredible to think that they had never played the song before and were working it up on the spot. Plus, kudos to whomever handles Springsteen’s teleprompter because that roadie got the lyrics cued up pretty darn quick.
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Fans who were at the show are speculating that when Springsteen leaves out a few words in the last verse, he was choking back tears. It’s hard to tell from this video, but there’s certainly a lot of blinking going on there.
In his intro to the song (not audible on this video, but all over the internet on videos that aren’t as close up), Springsteen said of Helm (whom he refers to as “Levin”: "He was one of the greatest, greatest voices in country, rockabilly and rock & roll...Levon's voice and drumming was so incredibly versatile. He had a feel on the drums...it comes from a certain place in the past and you can't replicate it."
New Jersey.com blogger/Springsteen expert Stan Goldstein reports that Springsteen and Helm performed “Up on Cripple Creek” and “Lucille” together at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, N.J. on Aug. 21, 1987.
Which version do you like better? Or is Helm's version still the best?