My Robbie Robertson rant!

The Band in the kitchen of “Big Pink”, Easter Sunday, West Saugerties, NY, 1968. Photo By ©Elliott Landy, LandyVision Inc. Robbie Robertson, Richard Manuel, Rick Danko, Garth Hudson, Levon Helm.

John Seabrook has an article in the New Yorker about rock legend Robbie Robertson. Here’s the link:

I’ve had strong feelings about Robbie and his conduct towards other members of The Band. I put the rant on Twitter and now you can read it here, all in one place!

Here’s the thing. @r0bbier0berts0n’s reputation rehab tour has to stop. It is insulting and self-aggrandizing and totally fucking dismissive of the genius and contributions of the other members of #TheBand /1

And I am sorry, but I don’t think @jmseabrook is helping. How do you say in one paragraph that @r0bbier0berts0n will make sure people “remember” Levon Helm as something more than Virgil Caine… /2

And then a couple paragraphs later you give credence to @r0bbier0berts0n assertion that Levon was just a paranoid ass with vicious drug dependency. That’s the version of Levon Helm Robertson will make sure gets remembered. /3

At least @jmseabrook points out that @r0bbier0berts0n admits to abusing drugs while he was trying to get everyone to stop abusing drugs. One can see why that might not be too effective at bringing about change. /4

The truth is that @r0bbier0berts0n, from the beginning of #TheBand did not see his bandmates as equals, and he concealed that fact. They never had a chance to get on equal footing financially b/c @r0bbier0berts0n exploited their dependency, their talent, and their innocence. /5

This is appalling, but forgivable. @r0bbier0berts0n and everyone else in The Band got out alive, and that is something that weighed on Robbie when he put down #TheBand. He didn’t want anyone (including himself) dying on his watch. /6

Also, think of how young @r0bbier0berts0n was when this all got so big so fast. There was no way he wanted to let the opportunity to do something world-changing slip by. I applaud that instinct, but the cost was too high. /7

They should have been equals. They had equal talent and contribution, no matter what @r0bbier0berts0n says. They should have shared the money equally. /8

But instead, he milked them for all they were worth. He took their creativity and their emotion and passed it off as his own. And when they later asked him to pay, he refused. /9

In the song #CaledoniaMission, the narrator (Robbie) can’t get the heathen (Levon) out of Arkansas. He foretells his own departure from the prison where he tried to help the heretic. /10

Why is @r0bbier0berts0n everywhere now, working harder than he has ever worked in his life? Because this is the last chance he has to write the legacy. No one is left alive to challenge him. /11

It is sad that @jmseabrook simply credits @r0bbier0berts0n’s stmnt that all other members of The Band agree with him that Levon was wrong. The proof is on millions of albums sold over the last 5 decades. “Words and music by R. Robertson.” /12

It made me sad to see (from afar) Rick and Levon die without getting to enjoy the fruits of a legacy they created. They changed music and they changed the world. Richard and Garth too. /13

But to @r0bbier0berts0n they were tools. Lower forms of life who tried to cheat him out of what he deserved so that they could buy more drugs. /14

And maybe the saddest part is that @r0bbier0berts0n was a genius too. He did so much and wrote such incredible songs. And he completely squandered that legacy. /15

And as much as I have anger about his apparent greed, I find @r0bbier0berts0n’s amazing lack of self-awareness to be very appropriate for these times. /16