The Daily Choice: Nina Simone – I Shall Be Released
Levon Helm, the drummer for The Band died yesterday. I’ve been obsessed with The Band since I lived in, surprisingly enough, New Zealand in college. Friends and I would sit around a fire or a heaping pile of marijuana and play mandolin and butcher “The Shape I’m In” or “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.” Helm, along with Richard Manuel and Rick Danko, were always the highlights of The Band for me, hard drinking geniuses who’s mellifluously intertwined voices made any song they touched a classic. I had to stop at work today and sit down when I heard Levon Helm had passed, something about his voice, the craggy country sweetness of it has always soothed the edges when times were tough and to think his presence wasn’t free-floating around the universe anymore was just about too much to take.
Nina Simone recorded this cover of “I Shall Be Released” for the album To Love Somebody. Bob Dylan originally recorded this classic, and performed it with an all-star line-up for the must-be-seen Scorcese-directed The Band concert film The Last Waltz, with The Band covering it later on. Both versions resonate with me but Nina Simone’s throaty take seems to be the most appropriate.
Rest in peace Mr. Helm, you’ll certainly be missed.