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    « Published Story, Paris and Other Thoughts | Main | April Fool's Post Review and Life Evaluation »

    Why Levon Helm's death hit me harder than Dick Clark's

    Simply put, Levon Helm meant more to me than Dick Clark

    This isn’t a rant about anything negative regarding Dick Clark other than the often-disabling effect of his own personality. He certainly did some good. He ushered in fledgling musical acts, opening doors to the mass public on American Bandstand. He took over New Year’s Eve from Guy Lombardo, becoming a New Year’s Eve fixture with the sometimes aply-titled "New Year's Rockin' Eve."

    My issue? He became a caricature of himself, opening up a place in Branson; battling those in court who desired to say “soundtrack of our lives’ without his permission; insisting on continuing his New Year’s Eve countdown when it was clear he shouldn’t; his loathing of the numbers 13 and 11. OK. My last comment was harsh. Still don’t take it back. He suffered from narcissism and hubris, making his persona more important than what was necessary.

    Quite the opposite of Levon Helm.

    To me, The Band's drummer, multi-instrumentalist and sometimes singer left an indelible impression far deeper in music than Dick Clark. Helms’ impression rolls like a soft, undulating kettle moraine as opposed to a rock (pun not intended) suddenly exposed in a dirt road forcing you to pay attention to it or lose your axle.

    Levon Helm oozed purity. Love for music showed through his sound, not through his ego. I love to think of some of the songs he helmed (pun TOTALLY intended): The Weight; Cripple Creek; The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, all songs which, to me, bring a smile with every listen.

    Helms' barn concerts up at his farm in upstate New York close to Woodstock were legendary. His last tour not only felt like a farewell tour, it became one. A silent, subdued farewell brought on by his knowledge of his inevitable death performed through the love of music, not the love of self. If Dick Clark had known he was going to die, had cancer rather than a heart attack, I’m sure he would have had some sort of bombastic tour in his honor.

    Dick Clark, for all the good he did, became vapid. Levon Helm, up until the day he died, still had substance.

    Reader Comments (1)

    This is a very interesting entry -- a kind of eye opener for me, since I rarely follow the lives and deaths of the famous.

    April 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMona Gustafson Affinito

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