Sunday, August 13, 2023

Ghost Dance Away

Robbie Robertson - It Is a Good Day to Die

Sunday means the second of two memorials for the weekend, with another recently departed superstar taking center stage one last time.

He started out in his native Canada in the early 1960s, soon finding his way into the touring band of someone from Arkansas.

In this group, he met an additional four people: one, like the leader, from Arkansas and three other Canadians.

A couple of years after he joined, the entire band broke off as a unit and became the backing group for some character called Bob Dylan.

Then they all moved in together, not far from Dylan's place in upstate NY, into a big pink house.

They installed a basic recording system in the basement, and then all heck broke loose and the face of all popular music became genetically altered by their existence.

Called simply The Band, there is music before them and there is music after them, and those two things are very different.

Today's guy was essentially the main man, writing most of the material, even though the group contained essentially five frontmen, depending on whatever song was being performed.

I suppose the supreme irony is that a band of mostly Canadians could become one of the main pillars in the music now called Americana. Well, Canada's in North America, isn't it?

Eventually the other four guys got hooked on bad drugs, and our hero knocked it on the head with one final blowout concert before embarking on a solo career.

Of all of them, he was really the only one that got anywhere on his own. He passed last week at 80, leaving only one of them still left alive.

Being half Mohawk, one of the places Robbie Robertson got to was a concept record about his Native American roots.

This 1995 project toured in Italy, of all places. Don't believe me? I have irrefutable proof!

Robbie Robertson
"Music for the Native Americans"
Italy 1995

01 Ghost Dance (w/Red Road Ensemble)
02 Mahk Jchi (w/Ulali)
03 Golden Feather (w/Red Road Ensemble)
04 Eagle Dance (w/American Indian Dance Theater)
05 Cherokee Morning Song (w/Rita Coolidge, Priscilla Coolidge & Laura Satterfield)
06 It Is a Good Day to Die (w/Red Road Ensemble)
07 Crazy Horse (w/John Trudell & Bad Dog)
08 Skinwalker (w/Red Road Ensemble)
09 Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee (w/Buffy Saint Marie)
10 Coyote Dance (w/Red Road Ensemble)
11 Hoop Dance (w/American Indian Dance Theater)
12 Coyote Dance (reprise w/all) 
13 Fire Dance outro (w/all)
14 RR announcement
15 I Shall Be Released (w/Rita Coolidge & Elvis Costello)

Total time: 1:01:42
Tracks 01-13: Palacongressi, Agrigento IT 2.11.1995
Tracks 14-15: Festa Del Lavoro @ Piazzi San Giovanni, Rome IT 5.1.1995

audio sourced from 2 Italian RAI-TV broadcasts of indeterminate origin
retracked, repaired & remastered by EN, August 2023
419 MB FLAC/direct link

This one is a bit rough sounding hisswise, but I did the best I could with it and it's the only documented, pro-recorded performance of this (yes it's transfixing) material.

I've got still more planned for these hot August nights, but I wanted to make sure I paid tribute to Robbie Robertson, as formative a figure in the music of our age as anyone you could name.--J.

7.5.1943 - 8.9.2023