Baker's Dozen

Artists discuss the 13 records that shaped their lives

13. The BandThe Band

When I was about 19 or 20, I read up a lot about the end of the sort of Hendrix era of big rock festivals and psychedelic drugs and acid and that sort of thing, when the 60s ate itself. And what emerged from that was the sort of Americana and Country revolution of the early Seventies people like Crosby Stills & Nash, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and the Grateful Dead sort of getting on the bandwagon, and the heart of that, it seems to me was the album The Band by The Band.

The Band was their second album, but I think it’s their masterpiece. It’s a masterpiece among masterpieces. I mean, there’s also the whole thing around The Last Waltz, and their work with Bob Dylan. And there are so many other albums I’ve stayed with from that period like Joni Mitchell’s Blue The Grateful Dead’s American Beauty, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s Deja Vu, Neil Young’s Harvest Moon and all that stuff, but it was The Band I really liked the most. I wore this out, as well as Before The Flood, their live album with Bob Dylan, which I nearly chose as a bit of a cheat to get ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ on there. A song of which Frank Zappa said “If this song does its job, I’ll never have to write another song again.”

I just adore this album. Levon Helm’s voice is insane. But there’s something about them where it doesn’t seem to be about them. They seemed to be doing what they did in the service of music.

Selected in other Baker’s Dozens: Marry Waterson, Yusuf/Cat Stevens, Lee Buford, Marianne Faithfull

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