They are always “leaving their woman behind”. They can’t be fitted or tied. They can’t grow roots or stay in one place for too long. They are forever trying to escape.
PULLED INTO NAZARETH
BY WILLIAM BLICK
“Pulled into Nazareth, feeling about half past dead/ Just lookin for a place where I can lay my head”—this song, The Weight, by Robbie Robertson as performed by the Band, is an epic ballad of weariness of the road.
The road—the long winding road—has been a source of inspiration for many great folk singers, country balladeers, and classic and southern rock troubadours in American music. The Band is perhaps the greatest example of fusion of jazz, country, blues, and rock and roll, and they have had a lifetime of experience on the road to draw upon as a source of inspiration. Robertson explains in The Last Waltz, the documentary by Martin Scorsese about the Band’s final concert, that the road is, and I quote, “a goddammned impossible way of life”. Robertson like Woody Guthrie, Howlin’ Wolf, Hank Williams, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and the Allman Brothers Band have made a life of music and the road by playing in their early days in pool halls, juke joints, gin mills, in the seemingly endless stretch of the American landscape and imagination. The road is the ultimate pallette for the American songwriter.