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The Band The Weight

The Band The Weight

Country Rock

This song about a traveler’s experienced in the town of Nazareth is credited to band member Robbie Robertson (although other members say they contributed). Robertson says that he was inspired by the surrealistic films of Luis Buñuel. Levon Helm says that “The Weight” contains some of their favorite characters whom they would see, around Nazareth, Pennsylvania, near the Martin guitar factory.

The song was released on The Band’s debut album Music from Big Pink in 1968. It was also released that year as a single, backed with “I Shall be Released.” The song charted internationally, although better in Canada at #35 and the U.K. at #12 than the U.S., where it rose to #63 on the Billboard Hot 100.  The song has become a classic rock staple.

The “Big Pink” was the name of a house in Saugerties, New York, with pink siding. The Band improvised and recorded with Bob Dylan in the basement of that house.

On the album Music from Big Pink were Rick Danko (bass guitar, fiddle, vocals), Levon Helm (drums, tambourine, vocals), Garth Hudson (organ, piano clavinet, sport and tenor sax), Richard Manual (piano, organ, drums, vocals), and Robbie Robertson (electric and acoustic guitars, vocals). John Simon, who produced the album, also was on baritone horn, tenor sax, and piano. Bob Dylan did the painting for the album cover.

Bob Dylan's album cover for Music from Big Pink

There have been numerous covers of the song, including  versions by Aretha Franklin, Jackie DeShannon, Diana and the Supremes with The Temptations, Bob Dylan, The Grateful dead, The Allman Brothers, King Curtis & Duane Allman, and The Ventures — just to mention a few.

Here are the lyrics to “The Weight” by The Band:

I pulled into Nazareth, was feeling ’bout half past dead
I just need some place where I can lay my head
Hey, mister, can you tell me, where a man might find a bed?
He just grinned and shook my hand, “No” was all he said.

Take a load off Fanny, take a load for free
Take a load off Fanny, and you put the load right on me

I picked up my bags, I went looking for a place to hide
When I saw old Carmen and the Devil, walking side by side
I said, “Hey, Carmen, c’mon, let’s go downtown”
She said, “I gotta go, but my friend can stick around”

Take a load off Fanny, take a load for free
Take a load off Fanny, and you put the load right on me

Go down, Miss Moses, ain’t nothin’ that you can say
It’s just old Luke, and Luke’s waiting on the judgment day
Well, Luke, my friend, what about young Annalee
He said, “Do me a favor, son, won’t you stay and keep Annalee company”

Take a load off Fanny, take a load for free
Take a load off Fanny, and you put the load right on me

Crazy Chester followed me, and he caught me in the fog
He said, “I will fix your rag, if you’ll take Jack, my dog”
I said, “Wait a minute Chester, you know, I’m a peaceful man”
He said, “That’s okay, boy, won’t you feed him when you can”

Take a load off Fanny, take a load for free
Take a load off Fanny, and you put the load right on me

Catch the cannonball, now to take me down the line
My bag is sinking low, and I do believe it’s time
To get back to Miss Fanny, you know she’s the only one
Who sent me here, with her regards for everyone

Take a load off Fanny, take a load for free
Take a load off Fanny, and you put the load right on me

For other songs by The Band: “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” and “Up on Cripple Creek.”

Check Out The Groove Pad for More 1960s Music

The Pass the Paisley Groove Pad is a resting stop, a place to chill out and listen to the featured song on the stereo. If the mood strikes you, click on the juke box to access and listen to the 50+ free online songs there. The TV has several channels, with selections updated twice a week. Every now and then, Pass the Paisley hosts an all-request of 1960s and 1970s songs for a Be-In at the juke box in the Groove Pad. Keep on truckin’. Hope you enjoyed “The Weight” by The Band.

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