Wednesday, October 21, 2009


I've written about the new Levon Helm album, Electric Dirt, a bit already, but it is definitely one of my favorite albums of the year. In fact, this album combined with his big comeback album of 2007, Dirt Farmer, should put him up for my Best Of The '00s series. And even if you don't agree with the statement - that he is one of the best artists of the decade - he surely has one of the most compelling stories. At the start of the decade, the reunited version of The Band - featuring Levon, Garth Hudson and Rick Danko - had broken up, following Danko's death in December of 1999. In the late '90s, Levon had been diagnosed with throat cancer, and was told he wouldn't be able to sing anymore. And he was running out of money and risked losing his farm.

Via his "Midnight Rambles" - concerts at his barn - he earned money to pay his medical bills and dodge forclosure. But the shows weren't just financially valuable: they were so hot that Levon went from being a nostalgia-based artist to someone who people would drive far distances to see (his barn is located in Woodstock). These days, his cancer is in remission, his singing is incredibly strong, his Rambles always sell out, he even tours a bit (selling out two nights in a row at NYC's Beacon Theater a few years back) and he has two super-highly acclaimed albums. Of course this story wouldn't matter so much if those albums weren't so great - but they are. Do yourself a favor and check them out!

Other Best of '09 albums: Bob Dylan's Together Through Life , The Cocktail Slippers' Saint Valentine's Day Massacre , Rancid's Let The Dominoes Fall, N.A.S.A.'s Spirit Of Apollo

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