This is my last day at the writer's desk, although if the pictures from Facebook are any indication, either Sal won't be back any time soon, or Burning Wood is going to be written in French.
So I had a few ideas of things I thought might be interesting. Alas, none of them are included below.
A friend on FB recently posted that he was reading Robbie Robertson's book and was loving it. I responded that I thought it was a bit too cold for me, well-reported, but bloodless. My buddy thought he answered Levon's complaints pretty well in regard to Levon's beef over song credits and royalties, especially in regard to "The Weight" for which Robbie claimed sole authorship.
It seemed to me though that Levon was on to something when pointing out that the characters in The Weight were all people the members of the band knew down South. I don't know if there's a standard for who writes what, but this is what I do know: if you consider yourselves brothers; if you see the life on the road taking its toll on the others, if the brothers you speak so warmly about contributed to the music in a real way, then if you have a decent bone in your body you give them a piece of those songs. He didn't. I can name nearly every song that appeared on Band albums but would be hard pressed to name more than three on Robbie's solo records, the point being that something was seriously lost in his songwriting when they broke up. What that was, besides the magisterial singing voices, was a lot of authenticity in his songs. (I listened to Robbie's new record, Sinematic. Once was enough for me).
The reason why this is slightly relevant is that Robbie is the central figure in a new documentary on the Band, "Once Were Brothers." It opened in Toronto, and the movie really made at least one reviewer squirm. I thought the review was worth a link, because he deals with these questions about Robbie's relationship with the others and really the whole Rashomon-like history of The Band.
Funny thing about fame and what it does to you and your memory (not something I have much experience with, although I was famous for a week in NYC back in 1989 when my first book was published; I was interviewed so many times I actually started to believe the bullshit I was saying), Van Morrison sings about fame on his new album, "Three Chords and the Truth." There are some great cuts on this his 1,123rd record. My favorite is "Fame Will Eat the Soul." The other voice on the song is Bill Medley's. Here's a link. And that got me to thinking about one of my favorite songs about fame, in part because of the boldness of the title. The songwriter is Bart Davenport, and the title really is a great one. It's called "Fuck Fame."
Yeah, fuck fame. Who needs the riches of LeBron James or more women than Sean Connery. Not me, and with that I say goodbye. Thanks for watching, and now back to your regularly scheduled programming.
(And look for my book on the Alger Hiss case sometime next spring).