Interview: Robbie Robertson on The Band and drugs. Oh his new album too. He also has a nice Les Paul

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by rze99, Oct 8, 2019.

  1. L.A. Mike

    L.A. Mike Tele-Afflicted

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    I'm always amazed when a former band member writes a story that ends up being a "tell all". The formula is always the same: include some band and personal history, then get to the "juice" about the former members. Details about drugs, groupies, fights, breakups and makeups, and of course your own quest to save the day and the band. Whether successful or not.
    Don't forget to stress the importance of your place and contributions in the band. And where possible, take credit for all the good stuff.

    I always wonder, why now? And what's the motive? Keep your name in the public eye and make some money while you can? And promote your "current projects"?

    I was a Band fan, saw them a couple of times, and liked their albums. I never cared much for Roberson's guitar playing. His style didn't interest me. But he fit the band and they wrote great songs together.
    I didn't like the talking part of The Last Waltz. It made me burst out laughing a couple of times. I mean, seriously? However, the musical performances were very enjoyable.

    Anyway, I hope he feels satisfied with his Band documentary and those on the inside of the story think it's a fair depiction of what actually happened.
     
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  2. Skully

    Skully Doctor of Teleocity

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    Cocaine is a hell of a drug.

    I read Helm's and Robertson's autobiographies and enjoyed them both. Conversely, I've tried to get into The Band's music repeatedly and failed to do so beyond the obvious ("The Weight," "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down"). Robertson did the work and wrote the songs, yet was frustrated that his band mates had the voices and (in Helm's case) the charisma. The band mates were frustrated that Robertson got the money, took the credit as "the genius" behind the band and controlled their destinies. There's a lot of denial going around.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2019
  3. GoldieLocks

    GoldieLocks Tele-Afflicted

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    What would have the LAST WALTZ been without Scorceses weirdness and the Hollywood touch? Probably a forgettable old concert VHS that few watch but the hardcore fans. Robbie made it larger than life. (first DVD I ever bought. Still love it).

    I'm surprised more folks don't say how much they LOVE Robbie's solo efforts. Those first 2 solo albums are pretty impressive and dripping with some Very Cool subtle guitar and tones. He's sorry it's not Guns N Roses... But it's adult music.

    I do wish Robbie would make a double live album. I'm not sure he's confident enough in his singing.

    Lazy stoners hate nothing more than being told "It's time to go to work". And most musicians I know are deathly afraid of the Business of music and song writing.
     
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  4. warrent

    warrent Friend of Leo's

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    By that measure all the staff writers at Motown should have shared their royalty checks as well. It would also justify Elvis taking credit for songs he didn't write.
    Just because Robbie knew how to write well for the rest of the band doesn't in turn make him liable to pay them. Should Burt Bacharach and Hal David have shared songwriting credit with Dionne Warwick just because they knew how to write for her and then had a good run of hits?
     
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  5. Skully

    Skully Doctor of Teleocity

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    I have the first solo album. I listened to it a lot back in the day, but never loved it. The songs aren't great and he's simply not a singer.
     
  6. maxvintage

    maxvintage Friend of Leo's

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    Maybe. The definition of ownership in songs is more or less arbitrary. It's never clear to me if a song sells because of the lyrics and the melody, or because of the arrangement, or because of the specific playing. Dozens of people are involved in getting a song to market, typically, and one person is assigned songwriting credit, even in cases where the song's production takes place more or less in the moment. Sure there are many cases where a guy walks in with a finished song and says "this is what I want you to play." Then there are cases where a guy comes up with some good idea and others flesh it out. Then there might be a case of a very undistinguished song that takes off because of a vocal performance or an instrumental part.

    the law has to declare ownership and it does so in ways that might have little or no realtionship to the creative process
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2019
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  7. fretWalkr

    fretWalkr TDPRI Member

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    If they band depended on Robbie to handle the business, they made a mistake. That they would makes sense, since they weren't just lazy stoners they were junkies. Experience dealing with both showed me there's a big difference. But even before the hard drugs came into the picture, Robbie was the one with the work ethic to actually finish the songs.

    As pointed out earlier, you an copyright lyrics and melody, not chords, not arrangements. So legally Robbie is on solid ground. But ethically and morally, using someones ideas/stories as a basis for a song deserves a writer's credit in my book. Wallcott never would have been written without Levon. And how does Robbie rate half writer for Garth's Genetic Method? That was apparently left up to Robbie. The "brotherhood" seemed to be in agreement that they contributed more to the music than was credited. Maybe it's just sour grapes, none of us will ever really know.

    Robbie keeps straining his credibility when he says the Last Waltz was just a break and citing concern for Richard. He wanted off the road and to make it big in Hollywood. Levon claims the plans for the Last Waltz were actually Robbie's plan and they just went along with it.

    Robbie wants to be seen as the guiding genius behind the band, like Brian Wilson. Too bad he didn't follow Brian's lean and keep writing and making albums with the group. But it appears that Robbie was estranged from the rest of the band at the end and IIRC he didn't attend any of the funerals. The post-Robbie albums show they were still the Band. IMHO Robbie was the weakest link musically I never cared for his playing. I thought Jim Wieder was the guitarist they should have had all along.
     
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  8. Blue

    Blue Tele-Holic

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    DELETE
     
  9. Blue

    Blue Tele-Holic

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    No thanks, it's bad enough listening to his studio stuff. A double live album would be unbearable. :eek:
     
  10. Jim622

    Jim622 Friend of Leo's

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    I think I'd get it. I'd like to see him do something without riding The Band wagon for a while.
     
  11. Cgrove

    Cgrove TDPRI Member

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    There’s a documentary on Levon in his later years, and there’s a scene where Larry Campbell is trying to get him to work on a project, I think finishing some old Hank Williams songs or something. Levon just isn’t into it.

    The doc doesn’t comment on it, so if you don’t know this whole backstory it doesn’t seem like much, but it’s pretty clear. Levon needs money, Campbell is like, we can do this and you’ll have some money coming in, and Levon isn’t interested in it. You can see echoes of what it must have been like back in the day.

    IMDbhttps://www.imdb.com/title/tt1362518/
     
  12. JuneauMike

    JuneauMike Friend of Leo's

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    Yep. "Ain't In It For My Health," was a great documentary. The money thing was unclear. Levon started the Midnight Ramble because his medical bills swamped him. It was hugely successful and turned into an ongoing fixture, plus he had a couple of albums of covers that did well. . It seems like his money problems had turned around. I recall Campbell sitting on the couch trying to fill in some gaps of Hank Williams lyrics and it seemed like Levon had nothing to offer. Levon could be kinda bitter, and playing the victim at times in that flick. It seemed like a very honest documentary. He's human, like us.
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2019
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  13. Larry F

    Larry F Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    A neurologist I was seeing, told me that when he was working in Chicago, he had a patient who played Chicago clubs and wrote some good songs. He said that while the others would go drinking, etc. after gigs, he, instead, would head home and write more music.

    I would estimate that the doc lived in Chicago in the late 70s-early 80s. I tried feeding him names, but nothing clicked for him. I imagined that Willie Dixon might have done this. But it didn't ring a bell for him.
     
  14. SnidelyWhiplash

    SnidelyWhiplash Friend of Leo's

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    RR's musicianship is unquestioned. He was the perfect guitarist for the Band. You can't blame him for wanting to go his own way. Who in their right mind would wanna carry a bunch of junkies??? Jim Wieder is a great guitarist, but as far as the Band is concerned, he's nothing more than second rate. Going back on the road cost Richard Manuel his life, so it seems that RR was right about the toll that touring can take on an artist.
     
  15. Uncle Bob

    Uncle Bob Tele-Holic

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    IMO his book brought out that side of him too.
     
  16. Califiddler

    Califiddler Friend of Leo's

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    IIRC, the line, at least as RR told it in The Last Waltz, was "You won't make much money, but you'll get more (kitty) than Frank Sinatra."
     
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  17. Geoff738

    Geoff738 Poster Extraordinaire

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    somehow posted in wrong thread. Oopsie deleted.

    Cheers,
    Geoff
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2019
  18. lil scotty

    lil scotty Tele-Meister

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    If I remember right, was it Petty who picked that lick out of a bunch of other notes that Campbell was playing and said, "do that over and over?" Something like that.
     
  19. lil scotty

    lil scotty Tele-Meister

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    This was one clue for me that, maybe, Robbie was the sole songwriter. Levon showed no love for that process, in the clip you cite. Could be anecdotal but I did notice that too.
     
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  20. JuneauMike

    JuneauMike Friend of Leo's

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    That's the clip I recalled as well.
     
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