Is Robbie Robertson Going To Finally Bury The Hatchet?



Now this is timing. It was announced this week that Robbie Robertson is releasing along with his memoirs a companion, career-spanning anthology CD on November 11. It’s been known for a while that Robertson spent at least five years writing this memoir called Testimony, and it certainly promises to be one of the more interesting Rock tell-alls. What surprised many is the inclusion of the CD anthology album, and what is even more surprising is the release date.

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Because we just found out earlier this week that The Band is reissuing anniversary editions of The Last Waltz on November 11, the 40th anniversary of the concert. So why would Robertson release his own anthology on the same date as The Last Waltz reissue? Wouldn’t that be cannibalizing his own royalties? After all, we’ve been told for years, in Levon Helm’s own scathing memoirs and elsewhere, that Robertson was a selfish guy who believed he was bigger and better than The Band, and that he personally denied songwriting credits that the others had earned.

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Well maybe he did, and maybe he didn’t. There’s some reason to believe that Levon Helm himself was pretty stubborn and cantankerous when it came to these issues. Either way, the symbolism of the release date for Robertson’s CD shouldn’t be ignored. It is a gesture that suggests that Robertson cannot separate his career and his own personal success from that of The Band, or if he once did, he no longer wishes to do so.

The last sentence of the press release announcement for Testimony says it more clearly: Above all, it’s the moving story of the profound friendship between five young men who together created a new kind of popular music.”  That surely sounds like someone trying to make amends with the past. Let’s hope his book offers apologies for any mistakes he may have made so that he can finally set things right.

As for the CD, it looks amazing. It includes Robertson’s personal choices of some of The Band’s best performances and hidden gems, some of the work they did while backing Bob Dylan and Ronnie Hawkins, and some of Robertson’s solo stuff, including a song called “Testimony” which was reworked with the contributions of Gil Evans, U2, Nile Rodgers, Daniel Lanois and Ivan Neville. Can’t wait to hear it.

In an era when long-time band mates continue to fall out after forty or fifty years together, wouldn’t it be nice if Robbie Robertson could turn The Band into a feel-good story again?

 

Tracklisting for Testimony CD:

  1. Testimony (Unity Mix) – Robbie Robertson
  2. Bessie Smith – The Band
  3. Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 – Bob Dylan
  4. The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down / Live At The Academy Of Music, 1971 – The Band
  5. He Don’t Love You (And He’ll Break Your Heart) – Levon & The Hawks
  6. Somewhere Down The Crazy River – Robbie Robertson
  7. Life Is A Carnival / Live At The Academy Of Music, 1971 – The Band
  8. It Makes No Difference – The Band
  9. The Weight / Live At The Academy Of Music, 1971 – The Band
  10. Out Of The Blue – The Band
  11. I’m Gonna Play the Honky Tonks – Levon & The Hawks
  12. Obviously 5 Believers – Bob Dylan
  13. Soap Box Preacher – Robbie Robertson
  14. Twilight (Song Sketch) – The Band
  15. Come Love – Ronnie Hawkins & The Hawks
  16. When The Night Was Young – Robbie Robertson
  17. The Shape I’m In / Live At The Academy Of Music, 1971 – The Band
  18. Unbound – Robbie Robertson

 

 

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