Music is the soundtrack to our lives. And on Christmas Day 2012, four days after the world was supposed to end, GuysNation columnist Bryan Lienesch was given the book ’1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die’. As he flipped through it, an idea dawned on him right then and there: he would attempt to knock all 1,001 albums off his list. Not just before he dies, but as fast as life would allow.
This is the Bucket Beats List.
It takes a band with rather colossal cajones to call themselves ‘The Band’. And in 1969? When rock and roll was somewhere close to its zenith? You must be kidding.
It also takes an equally large undercarriage to create an album so entwined with the American South when 80% of your band — I’m sorry, THE Band — is Canadian.
And yet, ‘The Band’ did it pretty darn well on their self-entitled second album. Starting the album off with the song ‘Across The Great Divide’, The Band sounds almost Randy Newman-esque in nature. It’s catchy jingle-like rifts and repetitive vocals convinces you that surely you’ve heard it as a soundtrack to some movie before.
Ironically, it’s one of many songs on the album that have NOT appeared in a film, at least not yet. However, the song’s architect, Robbie Robertson, would later prove to be quite talented at writing songs for the big screen.
Two of the songs that have frequented soundtracks in the decades since from ‘The Band’ are ‘The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down’ and ‘Up On Cripple Creek’. And, well, who can blame them? The songs are phenomenal.
‘Up On Cripple Creek’, with its funky undertones and psychedelic bass work, immediately shoots shockwaves to the back of your neck that entrances your head to start bobbing and jiving with the beat. This hippy-dippy musical work, though, serves only as a background to the backcountry beat. Together, the two styles complement each other and give you a song that sounds as if it’s coming straight from Woodstock.
And, being on an album released just a little more than month after the iconic music festival, it very well could be.
‘The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down’, on the other hand, is much slower. It has a certain smoothness not unlike Levon Helm’s understated drawl that just sort of soothes you as it’s played. And that’s when it hits you.
It doesn’t matter if they’re called THE Band or if most of them are of Canadian descent. The Band gets it, whatever it is. Although the entire album was recorded in a house in the Hollywood hills, ‘The Band’ is a record that is instantly identifiable with every nook and corner of America.
The Band even nearly called this album ‘America’, and I so wish they had.
We may not fully ever know why they didn’t either. But it doesn’t matter. Just like the band’s name itself, it could be called anything, but it’s definitely ours.
3. Rockin’ Chair
2. Up On Cripple Creek
1. The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down
3. King Harvest (Has Surely Come)
2. Look Out Cleveland
1. When You Awake
Do you really need to listen to this album before you die?
Ah, sure, why not. It’s pretty good.
When Bryan isn’t writing, he is on Twitter! Make sure to give him a follow @bclienesch for social media updates and other shenanigans!