There are few songs that are quite as iconic and historical as The Band’s 1968 song “The Weight.” A song that to this day remains as a prominent symbol of the 1960’s counter-coulter. Many artists have covered it over the decades quite notably Diane Ross & The Supremes and Aretha Franklin. Demonstrating a cross of soul, southern, and folk styles, “The Weight” stands as a noteworthy product of the distinctive style created by The Band.
The song describes a weary traveler who arrives in Nazareth, Pennsylvania and meets with his friend Annie. Along his way, many of the townspeople ask for favors or requests from the traveler. Robertson is showing how even the small favors can add up on someone, making our lives that much more challenging.
The Band started their career playing as a backing group for folk icon Bob Dylan, which explains the heavy folk influences that can be heard in their songs. “The Weight,” originally written by guitarist Robbie Robertson, uniquely features Rick Danko, Richard Manuel, and Levon Helm all singing together through most of the song. The Band was unique by almost always featuring three singers in their songs.
“The Weight” will always be a song thought of as synonymous with the counter-culture. It’s songs like these that bring people back to earlier times, and send them on a stroll down memory lane.
Written By: Denny Ganahl