Now Anyone Can Make Music From Big Pink



bigpinkIt’s not every day that you get an opportunity to stay in a house where some of the most important Rock music of all time was conceived and written. Good luck ever setting foot in Villa Nellcote on the Cote d’Azur in southern France, where the Stones’ Exile on Main Street was created. And there’s no chance in hell you’ll ever get a room in Headley Grange in Hampshire, England, where Led Zeppelin recorded Led Zeppelin IV.

But now you can book a stay in the legendary Big Pink, the West Saugerties, New York mountain home where the The Band wrote and developed Music from Big Pink. The house was recently acquired by accommodating new owners who are renting it out for $650 per night with a minimum two night stay. They have made many improvements to the house, but as much as possible, they have kept it the same as it was when Rick Danko, Garth Hudson, Richard Manuel and Levon Helm made it their home in 1968. (Robbie Robertson always felt he was above the others and never actually lived there, but he did spend a lot of time there too).

What an unbelievable thrill it would be to spend a weekend at this place. Those who have spent time there report a beautiful, warm musical vibe that radiates from the walls inside, and why not? Something magical happened in there in 1968 that changed the course of history. Pre-dating the Beatles’ White Album, Music From Big Pink was the primary influence in leading Rock away from the blues-based excesses of psychedelia.

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People call it a forefather of country rock, but that is not really accurate. Music From Big Pink was more a blend of rhythm and blues, soul, Brill Building pop, Appalachian folk plus some classical influences brought by the classically-trained Garth Hudson. Eric Clapton and George Harrison both cite the album as changing their musical direction, and it is said that the Beatles’ Let It Be was partly inspired by The Band’s “getting back” to basics.

Bob Dylan also spent lots of time at Big Pink, seeing as he just lived down the road a bit in Woodstock. He was also pretty tight with The Band’s members who backed him up on several tours in the mid-sixties. He hung out a lot, wrote lots of songs, and recorded many of them in a rudimentary studio in the basement, which ended up becoming The Basement Tapes.

Unfortunately the house’s owners use the basement for storage and other things, and it is not included in the rental. But this shouldn’t be a deal-breaker for anybody. We are talking about a near-sacred building for any Rock fan, with or without the basement. If I had the bucks I’d try to spend a lot of time there and see what rubs off.

Photo credit: By johndan (Big Pink) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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2 comments to “Now Anyone Can Make Music From Big Pink”
  1. To be honest, I don’t think the album has aged all that well, the rural ballads don’t translate that well any more. Their self-titled album is generally considered their best. But at that point in history, MFBP was kind of like the right album at the right time.

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