Epub Levon Helm ✓ This Wheel's on Fire Levon Helm and the Story of the Band ✓

In the tradition of the bestselling Hammer of the Gods and Fleetwood here is the true story of the legendary rock group The Band related by one of its members Levon Helm rips away a 15 year veil of secrecy in a classic rock parable of artistic survival spanning five decades


11 thoughts on “This Wheel's on Fire Levon Helm and the Story of the Band

  1. says:

    I'll always take Levon's word over Robbie's


  2. says:

    This had been on my personal to read list for a while just as my goal of attending one of Levon's Midnight Rambles had I'd gone as far as to decide that this year 2012 would be The Year I would make it happen when the possibility of experiencing either while Levon's smile raged on suddenly vanishedIt was a few weeks after he'd died before I was finally able to open to the first page sitting on the L train on my way to work I don't think I will ever forget the experience of reading those first handful of pages It is overwhelming because it is not that you are reading the first few pages it is that Levon is there just behind you speaking to you recalling rehashing He lives in those pages so honestly and so vividly and so much that as I read reality seemed to stretch to pull at threads some even snapping to let him back throughI cried silently and leaned back and leaned back in my subway seat as though maybe if I leaned back just enough and in the right way I might feel the heat from his breath near my ear as he spokeRead this book It will touch you in some way or another and I hope it will change you too as it did me We need men on this earth like Levon today and always


  3. says:

    I was listening to The Basement Tapes today and remembered that I read this one a few years ago Helm goes into his early life and time with Ronnie Hawkins Bob Dylan and of course the Band I can't imagine someone being a huge Ronnie Hawkins fan in 2014 but the people who are into Dylan's legendary folkie infuriating 65 66 showstours see the Electric Dylan controversy and the solo Band albums should seek this out as it's a valuable resource Most of the other dudes in theBand come out looking pretty good with the obvious exception of Robbie RobertsonHelm makes the case that the guy was an asshole egomaniac who took credit for way too much of the creation of Band songs I remember he makes the valid argument of and I'm paraphrasing here When you think about a song like 'Chest Fever' do you remember the lyrics or the organ part? Definitely the organ part That's some majestic shitThe stuff about The Last Waltz was great Even before I read this I remember thinking This couldn't look like the Robbie Robertson band Scorsese's cinematographic sidelining of Band greats Richard Manuel and Garth Hudson was fucking lame Instead of some shots maybe illustrating the depth of their contributions we get extra shots of fucking Robertson with his stupid gilded guitar and fuckingopen chested jacket and scarf hamming it up Horrible Helm's castigation of the whole thing was awesome The whole thing was probably a bad ideaalthough it does make for great rockmovie mythos what with Neil Young having to have a blob of cocaine removed from his nose in post production and the weird story with the room backstage specifically designed for cocaine use with fuckinga recording of sniffing sounds playing over speakers and a bunch of plastic noses everywhere or something? To be honest I could be misremembering some of this shit but it was utterly bizarre and over the top and did not jibe with the totally unpretentious Band approach to musicSo yeah if you are one of the people like myself who are into the Band and wonder what their whole deal was this is a good place to find out It's hardly an objective unbiased look at things but you're not gonna get one of those from a dude who disgruntedly parted ways with one or of his former bandmates Still Helm's writing I don't remember if he had a ghostwriter on this one is easy to read and predictably unpretentious and there's some very moving stuff a lot of it centering around the tragic end of the great Richard Manuel I'm pretty sure that it also contains a glossy picture section containing some very nice images of the Band and the people they played with and some awesome shots of them in the semi legendary Big Pink writing songs and hanging out This is probably not the definitive Band book as it's hardly objective but it's worth checking out for fans


  4. says:

    I enjoyed this book Helm said he had the best seat in the house as drummer for the The Band and his memoir shows it Helm had a southern upbringing and was steeped in music and cotton farming The Band always seemed southern to me but I learned they were all Canadians except for Helm But Helm has enough southern boy to make up the balance You get a good sense of how the band developed the ups and downs the personalities Bob Dylan comes off as something of a strange almost mythic figure and I've yet to read anything about him that didn't leave me wondering what the F is up with this guy? Can't he walk a straight line from one human to another? It always has to be half spoken half understood You think a guy like Helm would beat the shit out of him but he seems to genuinely respect Dylan's talents and what he did for their careers You are left in no doubt how Helm feels about Robbie Robertson betrayed though he does show the important force Robertson was to the band The description of Richard Manuel's dissolution and eventual suicide is heart breaking Almost all the band members are hit by one kind of tragedy or another The music is the life force Surely one definition of joy would be Rick Danko dancing and playing the bass bobbing and weaving like a little boy lost in happiness Just puts a smile on my face


  5. says:

    Levon Helm was truly a national treasure when he died this past spring Born into a cotton farming family near Turkey Scratch Arkansas he found that music could be his ticket out of this tedious work As a young teen he and his sister Linda earned cash and renown playing and singing at local venues While still a teen local legend Ronnie Hawkins took him into his band the Hawks and through him Levon discovered the lucrative Northern circuit of Ontario Canada It was here that Hawkins put together the famous group that would come to be named simply The Band Levon Helm Robbie Robertson Rick Danko Richard Manuel and Garth Hudson When Bob Dylan shocked the folk world by plugging his guitar into an amplifier in the mid sixties The Band backed him In the process they found critical acclaim and a loyal following In this rich memoir Levon traces the demise of the group to Robbie Robertson's actions leading up to The Last Waltz Martin Scorsese's film of the group's final concert in 1976 One of my most treasured memories was attending one of Helm's fabled Midnight Rambles last July in his barnstudio in Woodstock NY Joe Purdy special guest performer played an opening set and then Levon and family and friends played for almost three hours to a small 100 or so but appreciative audience ending at midnight with The Band's famous song The Weight As they finished Levon climbed down from his perch on the drums and proceeded to shake hands with the fans in the front row Since my husband and I were in the second row I was concerned we would not get such an honor but before he left the room we somehow made eye contact with him and he reached over to shake our hands The adrenaline generated by the show and the handshake fueled our hour and a half ride home to NJ It was an amazing experience that I will treasure always


  6. says:

    One of the best music memoirs I have read Levon Helm has a great attitude about the ups and downs of his career with The Band The biggest mystery is if he truly did spend so many years drinking and using drugs and travelling on the road carousing and staying up until all hours every night playing music with The Band how in the world can he remember so many details going all the way back to the late 50s? Perhaps he was an obsessive diarist although it does not seem to be his nature Well it shall remain a mysteryNonetheless here is a guy with a passion for music an extroverted ability to relate cordially with other musicians and a sort of country gusto that allows him to pour on the aggression when necessary for self defense but also to be kind gentlemanly and loyalHe wrote this book with a co author Most of it is first person but from time to time he pulls in uotes written or spoken by bandmates old friends and old girlfriends This is useful such as when he allows Libby Titus and his eventual wife Sandy to describe the moment they fell in love with him and relate what a handsome gentleman he was He could hardly describe this himselfHowever I suspect a little bit of fudging may have occurred During the preparations for The Last Waltz around 1976 he notes that he and Libby mutually decided to split up which was what we both needed But then in 1978 Sandy mentions that Libby found out about us and immediately instituted a support order It is so hard not to get caught up in reconstructing a musician's personal history especially once they open the doorAnother trait that comes through repeatedly is Levon's loyalty to musicians he has known and respected for years During an account of the financial skullduggery that went on during the planning of The Last Waltz at one point an accountant tries to convince Levon to cut Muddy Waters from the lineup citing time constraints In probably my favorite moment in this story Levon unleashes the wrath of Moses on this poor bean counter and drives him from the room saving Muddy's slot and thank goodness; it was one of the best parts of the movieLike many autobiographies this one gets sad at the end Not only do revered fellow musicians die Richard Manuel who committed suicide on the road or go their own way Robbie Robertson was the only one who wanted to break up the band and he got his way but the unfair business practices of managers and record labels are revealed most egregiously the crediting of virtually all the songs on the Band's first two wonderful albums which were co written in workshop fashion by the entire ensemble to Robbie Robertson Apparently of all of them he was the one with the most ambition and business sense and his alignment with manager Albert Grossman enabled him to cut some corners All very sad Nonetheless it was a pleasure reading Levon Helm's accounts hearing his voice and learning so much about the culture of music that the whole band made the air they breathed A warning though if the film The Last Waltz has always been a favorite of yours this account may disillusion you somewhatOn a happier note the book was written in 1995 Levon survived another 20 or years or so; his daughter Amy with a music career of her own produced one of his last albums and his last 2 recordings both won Grammy awards


  7. says:

    The only downside to this book is that it sort of ruins watching The Last Waltz for me But the rest is upsideTurns out Levon Helm is the most American person the 20th century has ever had the decency to spew out He's basically a personification of the Heartland writing in the same voice he sings in Helm has stories to tell plenty of them but I fell in love with this autobiography as soon as I realized he didn't have a story to tell no agenda no pretentious theme just a guy who was getting older and realized that a lot of people would get joy from hearing what he had to say That format IS the story If I had to choose a story to tell about the American 20th century it's how a country of farmers and factory workers became one of salespeople and consumers Helm's life and philosophy contradicts that American identity He was a person so clearly in love with life and fun and euality and a consummate lower case c christian despite the ordeals and money of the rock n roll lifestyleI absolutely recommend Helm's autobiography to anyone interested in The Band or American rock music


  8. says:

    I was not expecting this to be a page turner but it totally was I couldn't put it down once I got started Levon is hilarious and very heart felt


  9. says:

    Definitely to be read with a grain of salt This is 100% Levon Helm's take on The Band and his schism with Robbie Robertson really comes through I got frustrated with Helm's self flattery a little bit but when it comes down to it he really is one of the best out there and this book is pretty much reuisite for any Band fan