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Song Lyric Sunday – The Weight

Pull up a chair – it is time for the last Song Lyric Sunday of the year and the decade! Jim has challenged us with finding a song lyric that has something to do with crazy.

There are a lot of songs out there to choose from. I was almost driving myself crazy trying to decide on the one I wanted to choose. Then, my mind decided to go down my late 60s early 70s brain and select a song from the classic movie “Easy Rider”. I gave pause to the reality that there are a so many people who never lived in that culture and have likely never seen that movie. I must say when I think back on seeing that film in the theatre at such a naive young age, I didn’t understand half of it. The music was a great take away.

Credit for writing “The Weight” is given to lead guitarist of The Band, Robbie Robertson although several band members were said to have contributed to the lyrics. There are so many differing opinions about the lyrics, I hesitate not know which sources are the most reliable. So I will share the most agreed upon information.

Robbie Robertson said he was influenced by Mexican filmmaker Luis Bruñuel, whose films featured dark subjects and a bit of surrealism.

The town Nazareth was chosen because Nazareth, Pennsylvania is where Martin guitars are made and the goto guitar manufacturer of choice for many acoustic musicians. It is also said this is where the group Nazareth came up with the name of their band. The song was featured on their album “Music from Big Pink” after the the big pink house they rented and used as a recording studio. The Band was Bob Dylan’s backup band and they went to New York to stay and record while Dylan recovered from a motorcycle accident.

The characters featured in the song were all people known by the band members. This quote from the Songfacts website is taken from Levon Helm’s autobiography This Wheel’s On Fire: Levon Helm And The Story Of The Band and explains the character in the song ‘Crazy Chester’:

Crazy Chester’ was a guy we all knew from Fayetteville who came into town on Saturdays wearing a full set of cap guns on his hips and kinda walked around town to help keep the peace,if you follow me. He was like Hopalong Cassidy, and he was a friend of the Hawks. Ronnie would always check with Crazy Chester to make sure there wasn’t any trouble around town. And Chester would reassure him that everything was peaceable and not to worry, because he was on the case. Two big cap guns, he wore, plus a toupee!

The movie Easy Rider featured the recording by The Band but it could not be licensed for the soundtrack. The version of ”The Weight” on the soundtrack is a cover performed by the band Smith.

This is the clip from the movie Easy Rider, featuring Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper. A classic scene.

Here is the video from Woodstock. It’s the music of a generation and included as #41 in Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

The lyrics are from Songfacts.com via LyricFind.

[Levon Helm]
I pulled into Nazareth, was feeling ’bout half past dead
I just need some place where I can lay my head
Hey, mister, can you tell me, where a man might find a bed?
He just grinned and shook my hand, “No” was all he said

Take a load off Fanny, take a load for free
Take a load off Fanny, and you put the load right on me

I picked up my bags, I went looking for a place to hide
When I saw old Carmen and the Devil, walking side by side
I said, “Hey, Carmen, c’mon, let’s go downtown”
She said, “I gotta go, but my friend can stick around”

Take a load off Fanny, take a load for free
Take a load off Fanny, and you put the load right on me

Go down, Miss Moses, ain’t nothin’ you can say
It’s just old Luke, and Luke’s waiting on the judgment day
Well, Luke, my friend, what about young Annalee
He said, “Do me a favor, son, won’t you stay and keep Annalee company”

Take a load off Fanny, take a load for free
Take a load off Fanny, and you put the load right on me

[Rick Danko]
Crazy Chester followed me, and he caught me in the fog
Said, “I will fix your rag, if you’ll take Jack, my dog”
I said, “Wait a minute Chester, you know, I’m a peaceful man”
He said, “That’s okay, boy, won’t you feed him when you can”

Take a load off Fanny, take a load for free
Take a load off Fanny, and you put the load right on me

[Helm and Danko]
Catch the cannonball, now to take me down the line
My bag is sinking low, and I do believe it’s time
To get back to Miss Fanny, you know she’s the only one
Who sent me here, with her regards for everyone

Take a load off Fanny, take a load for free
Take a load off Fanny, and you put the load right on me


Song Lyric Sunday is sponsored each week by Jim Adams over at A Unique Title For Me. It is a nice thought-provoking opportunity to share in music and write about something a little different. If you would like to join in, check out his blog and read up on the rules. Take the time to read through the links in the comments for this week’s crazy contributions!

18 thoughts on “Song Lyric Sunday – The Weight”

  1. Always loved The Band, and Robbie’s solo career too. I listen to their original version of ‘The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down’ at least once a week. Levon’s vocals are heartbreaking. The live version in Scorsese’s film of their farewell concert ‘The Last Waltz’ is my favourite.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Pete, nothing can replace good lyrics and heartfelt vocals. “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” sung by The Band is amazing. I was never fond of the Joan Baez version.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. I will definitely read your prior post, Jim. This era of music can be such a fascinating time to research. I left out a lot of conflicting information so I am anxious to read your take on the song.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The Band are one of my favorite groups. Didn’t realize Crazy Chester was based on a real person. I bet The Band is kicking themselves for not allowing the original in Easy Rider.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have always loved that song. Funny you mention Smith. The first and last time I smoked weed I heard their record. I thought it was the most wonderful album I had ever encountered and went out and bought it. Then I couldn’t fathom why I thought it was wonderful!

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