Ave Atque Vale

The family of drummer/vocalist Levon Helm has announced that he is in the final stages of his struggle with cancer. Greil Marcus once described Helm as the only drummer whose playing could make listeners cry, but it’s worth noting that his family prefers to speak of his ability to bring happiness to his audience. I’ve always heard him, like Ringo, as being able to provide the perfect part for the songs he played.

May he find the peace he needs, and the joy he has brought to so many through the years. And just because it’s one of my favorite Band tunes…

Thanks, Levon.

About profmondo

Dad, husband, mostly free individual, medievalist, writer, and drummer. "Gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche."
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5 Responses to Ave Atque Vale

  1. Bennett Cerf says:

    I’m very sad to read this, but I’m happy at least he had a few years’ reprieve and recorded some new material. Back when I’d watch Imus it was always a treat when he’d have Levon on. Aside from the rasp in his voice he didn’t seem to have changed a bit, and he always seemed to me like the guy you’d love to have as your cool uncle.

    Two plugs: his 1978 “Levon Helm and the R.C.O. All-Stars” live album is one of my favorite CDs, with a truly epic version of “Goodnight, Irene” as the final track. And his memoir “This Wheel’s On Fire” is well worth the read, and includes a great story about him and Sam Shepard smoking pot during the filming of “The Right Stuff” – and being busted by no less than Chuck Yeager. (Talk about a buzzkill.)

    Rest well, Levon. You have lived a rich life, and you’ve brought happiness to so many.

  2. The Ancient says:

    Levon’s been in a coma for the past six days.

    Pray for him.

  3. The Ancient says:

    It really doesn’t get better than this.

  4. Rock n Roll Regent says:

    I like Levon’s acting in both The Right Stuff and in Coal Miner’s Daughter. Did he ever do anything else? He had an authenticity of voice that made both his acting and his singing greater than mere talent, Levon did it right, naturally.

    My vote, under the heading of “doesn’t get any better”, goes to the uncut version of “It Makes No Difference” from “The Last Waltz”, Rick Danko singing, Garth on sax.. In later years, Dylan’s “Blind Willie McTell” became a great song for Rick and Levon. Maybe I just get more melancholy as they slip away, one by one, and “Life is a Carnival” just no longer fits.

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