Friday, April 20, 2012

The Soul Corner - special edition: Levon Helm

"If it doesn’t come from your heart, music just doesn’t work.” Levon Helm (May 26, 1940-April 19, 2012). 

We've never attempted here at the Soul Corner to define soul music. According to the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame, soul is "music that arose out of the black experience in America through the transmutation of gospel and rhythm & blues into a form of funky, secular testifying." 

But of course, one of the most wonderful things about music is that wherever it arises originally, once it moves into the air, it can be absorbed and even transformed by anyone anywhere who dares to listen.

And few absorbed soul music more profoundly than Levon Helm. Raised in the heart of the South in a town the name of which sounds like it came out of a novel - Turkey Scratch, Arkansas - Helm understood the struggles and emotions of the South. He went on to make his own style of powerful, transformative music that blended R&B, country, rock'n'roll and soul.  

If you are too young to know Levon Helm, please read some of the many articles that were published following his death Thursday. His work with the Hawks, The Band, Bob Dylan, and as a solo artist is some of the best Americana music ever made. 

Helm is properly revered a tremendously gifted, passionate and original drummer and vocalist.

But enough from me, let's honor one of the most soulful musical artists of all time by listening to the "funky secular testifying" in this amazing song:

Here's Levon singing a shared vocal on what is arguably the greatest Motown cover song: 

Levon Helm made music from the heart and he will be missed.  

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