The Band “Music From Big Pink”

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#494 in the Series) is The Band, Music From Big Pink.

No, The Band’s 1969 album titled The Band, was not their debut album. That distinction would be given to their 1968 release, Music From Big Pink. I know we have a ton of followers of The Band that visit our site. Yeah, I knew you knew, but many actually don’t. Quite a few people actually.

Last week we looked at a great debut album from The Pretenders. We spoke about how that was one of the best debuts in music history.  This one is also in that team picture.

When that Pretenders album hit the streets, they were a new act for us, not so with The Band. We knew them for quite some time as the band that backed up Bob Dylan. Even though many people weren’t ready for a plugged in band that would back Bob Dylan!

Robbie Robertson, Richard Manuel, Levon Helm, Garth Hudson and Rick Danko would perform together in this configuration for about eight more years. They would release seven studio albums.

Today though, once again, we’re looking at their debut. It would contain the song that just might go down as the best song that they ever recorded. A song that would sound as good today, as it did when it was recorded back in 1968. Do the math, that’s 43 years people. It’s one of the few songs that Levon Helm continues to perform at just about every show even until this day.  I’m of course talking about “The Weight.” Make sure you check out the video playlist below. I included the version from The last Waltz. What’s the best moment in that video? It has to be right at the end when Mavis Staples say’s “Beautiful.” I always watch for that part. It sums up so much about …. well, all this really.

I was surprised to see how much Richard Manuel had written on this album. He adds his creative genius to four songs here. He co-writes the great lead off track “Tears of Rage” with Dylan. He solo writes “In a Station”, “We Can Talk” and “Lonesome Suzie.” I actually first heard “Lonesome Suzie” when it was recorded by Blood, Sweat and Tears on their 3 album. Hey, I didn’t know?

Bob Dylan would add his writing to two more songs here. He co-wrote “This Wheel’s On Fire” with Rick Danko and also added “I Shall Be Released.”

Good luck in finding a review that doesn’t call this one of the best albums of all time. They’re not out there folks. Rolling Stone Magazine even called it the 34th best album of all time.

Music From Big Pink was re-released in 2000 with nine outtakes added as a bonus. If you want this on Compact Disc, that the one to look for.

— Larry Carta

Track listing

Side One

Rick Danko

  1. “Tears of Rage” (Bob Dylan, Richard Manuel) 5:23
  2. “To Kingdom Come” (Robbie Robertson) 3:22
  3. “In a Station” (Manuel)3:34
  4. “Caledonia Mission” (Robertson) 2:59
  5. “The Weight” (Robertson) 4:34

Side Two

  1. “We Can Talk”  (Manuel) 3:06
  2. “Long Black Veil” (Marijohn Wilkin, Danny Dill) 3:06
  3. “Chest Fever” (Robertson) 5:18
  4. “Lonesome Suzie” (Manuel) 4:04
  5. “This Wheel’s on Fire” (Dylan, Rick Danko) 3:14
  6. “I Shall Be Released” (Dylan) 3:19


The Band

  • Rick Danko – bass, fiddle, vocals
  • Levon Helm – drums, acoustic guitar, percussion, vocals
  • Garth Hudson – organ, piano, clavinet, soprano and tenor saxophones
  • Richard Manuel – piano, organ, drums, vocals
  • Jaime Robbie Robertson – guitars, vocals

Additional Personnel

  • John Simon – producer, baritone horn, tenor saxophone, piano


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Posted by Larry Carta


  1. Derek Simon (29 Sep 2011, 17:13)

    Love The Band, love Big Pink. Just wanted to let you know, though, the version of The Weight you have up is sped up. Every video from The Last Waltz that the user “watanokuni” put up on youtube somehow got sped up slightly and is up a half key (so The Weight goes from the key of A to A#, and everyone’s voice has a slight Alvin & The Chipmunks effect).

    • Larry Carta (29 Sep 2011, 17:53)

      Thanks Derek, when I get back to a real computer I’ll look to fix that.

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