The song was written by The Band’s guitarist Robbie Robertson. In 1969, it was released on their album titled The Band and also as a single (with “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” on the B-Side). The song went to #25 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and #10 on the Canadian RPM Singles Chart. Robertson says the song is his mind trying to imagine the life and mind of a man who lives in the middle of a field, with one light on upstairs, and a truck parked out front. On the track, Robertson plays rhythm guitar, Rick Danko is on bass guitar, Levon Helm does the lead vocals and plays drums, Richard Manuel plays piano, and Garth Hudson plays the clavinet (am amplified clavichord) and organ. This was one of the first uses of a clavinet with a wah-wah pedal. It later became ubiquitous in ’70s funk, disco, rock and reggae music.
The Band formed in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. in 1964. They came together as they joined rockabilly singer Ronnie Hawkins’s backing group The Hawks (circa 1958-1963). Hawkins was originally from Arkansas and then settled in Ontario. They broke with Hawkins and then toured and recorded with Bob Dylan. Helm said that because they were “the band” behind a number of artists, he decided to name them The Band. They went on to play folk rock, country rock, and roots rock (that is, music looking towards rock’s roots in blues, folk, and country music).