Ith ronnie hawkins the hawks and the band this memoir really only covers this specific era with a bit of robertson s early life starting things off it feels sensitive and respectful towards the other pla HmmmI wasn t sure if I should write a review but everyone seems to be raving about this self serving book which I find rather perplexing so I thought I d contribute some words you know as a fan of The BandPlease check out Andrew Peerless review of the book he has summarized everything wrong with Testimony better than I ever could although I m going to try obviously in detail of all I couldn t help but think of the Churchill uote History is written by the victors or in this case the survivors I do not write this review as a Levon defender as I m far from it My favorite members of the group specifically Rick Danko and Richard Manuel died a long time agoLevon Helm oined them in 2012 I Le rite opratif de Salomon : Compagnon, du spculatif l'opratif just find it somewhat suspicious that Robbie chose to share his story now when the important players cannot contradict or refute his version of eventsAnother uote that came to mind is one from Rick Danko himself in an interview from 1997 in which Danko said this about Robbie He ll say he did it all if you give him the opportunity The I read Robbie s book especially as I got to the mid 60s Bob Dylan period I couldn t help but agree with Danko s statement I actually had to take a break from the book because I was getting and annoyed Rick tied The Band s decline in creativity to the ego trips in the group Levon is pretty guilty of this as well and I thought of that as I came to the last 100 pages of the book Robbie blamed theunkies his brothers and the road uh why did he use Nick Drake as a casualty of the road when the guy like never performed live as the reasons for The Band breaking up instead of considering himself as a possibility Why did the other members of the group especially Manuel want to escape Why did they really want to stop working with Robbie What about Robbie s coke problem What about Robbie s wife He eludes to an alcohol problem there in which he never elaborates on but could all this actually be on you Robbie I don t knowRobbie would rather write in superficial cliches than actually dig deep and admit some hard truths Some people consider Levon s book to be bitter but there are benefits to his book that are missing from Testimony One example is that the other members of the group especially Rick Danko are included in certain parts You get to hear their version of events while Robbie s is purely one sided Also how can one not argue that Robbie is also bitter especially when he calls Levon a country boy with an inferiority complex or says Rick has a backward personality Robbie s projecting here as most fans know that he s the one who s insecure It s pretty obvious especially in this book where he can t stop openly praising himself and his talents on every other page And let s not forget his insecurity shining through when you watch him mug for the camera in The Last Waltz or talk about my songs during the Rock Roll Hall of Fame ceremony Hey what about Richard As far as I know he wrote a lot of great songs on those first three albums but let s not get ahead of ourselvesLevon might have been mean spirited at times but there wasn t so much me me me in his book Yes that s right If you re a fan of Robbie Robertson s ego then this book is for you No Alan Partridge Every Ruddy Word joke Robbie is full of himself that s for sure Everybody is praising him left and right Even total strangers think he sust the best person ever I recall an interview with Mickey Jones the drummer during the 1965 66 Bob Dylan tour in which he referred to Robbie as very standoffish and how Robbie was into Robbie He also referred to Robbie as the Barnacle Man because he was obsessed with Bob and always tried to get on camera when they were around That came to mind as I read the parts about Dylan although I m not doubting their friendship at the time I know Dylan regretted calling Robbie a good guitarist because Robbie took it literally Robbie also acted like they were best friends which Bob didn t see at allI also remember once reading a uote from his son Sebastian who monitors The Band s social media pages that his father only comes across as aloof or arrogant because he s shy Really For such a shy person Robbie seemed to be interacting with a lot of freakin people which is another problem I have with the book Not ust all the freakin name dropping but that Robbie conveniently is the guy who always seemed to be in the right place at the right time If it wasn t for him Bob Dylan wouldn t have done this or that Right One example that I found pretty unbelievable and again no one is going to contradict him because they re all dead is when Robbie takes Brian Jones to see Jimmy James the future Jimi Hendrix play a show which gives Brian the great idea to bring Jimmy to the UK Also Robbie gives Jimmy pointers on becoming a better songwriter Seeif it wasn t for Robbie we would never have known
about Jimi Hendrix Jimi wouldn t have written songs Oh and let s not forget Robbie is Jimi s favorite guitar Jimi Hendrix Jimi wouldn t have written songs Oh and let s not forget Robbie is Jimi s favorite guitar I could go onOther parts that I found unbelievable especially as a Rick Danko fan Robbie teaching Long Black Veil to Rick although Rick grew up playing country music and met the originator of that song Lefty Frizzell as a kid Robbie being diagnosed with asthma and telling Rick that s why he doesn t sing the songs although Rick had asthma his entire life and last but not least the part where Robbie comes up with the staggered vocal along with the falsetto melody idea for The Weight chorus and teaches it to the guys something I find hard to believe especially when Robbie calls Rick the king of harmonies at the end of the book Check out the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame rehearsals when The Band was inducted in 1994 on YouTube Robbie seems distant not saying much while Rick is the one who takes charge in teaching Eric Clapton and Paul Shaffer how to sing The Weight chorus Something to think aboutFor someone who claims this is all from memory that nothing was ever written down he certainly can remember a lot of detail even total conversations from stuff that happened 40 50 years ago I don t know about you but I find a lot of it hard to believe The fact that he reminds you numerous times this is all from his incredible memory comes across as a bit defensive Probably because most people or maybe 99% of people can t even remember what they did last week Yet Robbie can My advice as a history geek is to always uestion someone who writes their story several decades after the actually happened Also a lot of the words coming out happened Also a lot of the words coming out the other guys mouths in the book ust doesn t ring true for meYou have to wonder if Robbie became obsessed with songwritingpublishing after he was denied credit on an early song he gave to Ronnie Hawkins when he was a teenager which he writes about in the beginning of the book But in terms of who wrote what songs in The Band I really don t care Robbie can think he wrote it all which certainly comes across in the book as he s telling the 4 other guys to do this and do that although I have a feeling nobody told Levon what to do but I Guide to the Holy Land just don t think that s true at all The Band is the most obvious example of a music group who had a distinct sound and a feeling that cannot have come fromust one guy Robbie might have written the lyrics and melody for most of the songs but when Richard inverts some of the chords on the piano and a harmony comes in from Rick and Levon plays his distinct rhythm and Garth creates counterpoint melodiesthis isn t about writing a song but shaping and breathing life into it If one of those guys was missing from the euation it s La sociedad literaria y del pastel de piel de patata Guernsey (Narrativa) (Spanish Edition) just not the same in my opinion Also you have to wonder if the same songs would have been created if Robbie was notamming with those particular people I think the four other guys especially Garth had a huge influence on Robbie s creativity Also let s not forget Bob Dylan didn t record The Basement Tapes with Robbie alone Actually some of the time Robbie wasn t even there The Band was not Levon The Band was not Robbie The Band was ALL 5 members Every single one of them This is a music group whose musical appeal is much than songwriting Everyone s voices and musical talents came together to create something very uniue If Robbie thinks it s all about him and these are his songs then he s ust plain wrong The same goes for Levon Robbie s book AND Levon s book are not The Bible they re memoirs a flawed genre Robbie s also in the music business where it s all about selling something Please remember that before you give Testimony 4 or 5 star. E astonishing run of albums that culminated in one of history's most famous farewell concerts the movie The Last Waltz directed by Martin Scorcese This is the story of a time and place the moment when rock 'n' roll became life when electric blues legends like Muddy Waters and Otis Rush criss crossed the circuit of clubs and roadhouses from Texas to Toronto It's the story of exciting change as the world tumbled into the '60s and figures like Dylan and The Band redefined music and culture with a little help from sex and drugs And it's the moving story of the profound friendship between five young men who together created a new kind of popular musi. ,
Free read ´ E-book, or Kindle E-pub ï Robbie Robertson,
4 What an exhilarating book Upbeat positive almost to a fault and full of incredible information Not the introspective revealing tone of Born to Run but undeniably its eual in reporting the uniue processes of writing recording and the ins and outs of the music business Robertson is a few years older than me and I am totally aware of all his many influences in music which made this book resonate even deeply with me The experiences that he had and the unbelievable A list of celebrities and characters he interacted with are nothing short of remarkable The fact that this book held my interest so fully through almost 500 pages covering less than a 20 year period really speaks to its power and level of writing Another ust terrific music memoirautobiography I ve read several of these Rock autobiographies recently and this one stands somewhere in the middle Not as good as Keith Richard s Life or Elvis Costello s Unfaithful Music and Dissappearing Ink But it is substantial than for example Clapton s book and maybe on a par with Gregg Allman s book The stories told here are good and entertaining and there is a lot of great stuff about life on the road life cloistered in the Catskills and about how The Band put together its musicThe specter haunting this book is Robertson s treatment of his bandmates after the break up and the book offers some exculpatory information particularly in his claim that the members wanted to sell him their rights PaddedKINK 1 just before the break up It s hard to credit him on this however because of another main weakness in the book A key rule for writers is to keep in mind that every character sees himself as the hero of his own story I m not sure that that rule should apply so religiously in a memoir Since the writer is by definition writing a book about his own life its reasonable to expect at least some confessional material Robertson basically offers none If you took this book at its word the worst that he ever did was play some pranks like his near attempt at armed robbery with Levon or when they ripped off Paul Butterfields stash etc These count as hijinks than failings though There is basically nothing about his own drug dependence though there is uite a bit about especially Levon s and Manuel s Nor is there any other story that tends to open up a darker side to his character Mostly he talks about his triumphs both known and unknown and casts things as triumphs even when they might not be I will compare this to for example Herbie Hancock s or Phil Lesh s stories Hancock is relentlessly positive in his book with an air of modesty which Robertson lacks that is so extreme that it sometimes comes across as false modesty But even he gives a pretty stark and harrowing depiction of his crack addiction and how it almost ruined his life Likewise Lesh has basically nothing bad to say about anyone in his book but gives a pretty clear account of his own abuse of cocaine and then his alcoholism The most that Robertson ever says is that it was hard for him to intervene when he was no saint himself Beyond that there is basically no detailI m not saying that I need to have a blow by blow description of being strung out Rather the book takes on such a positive tone about Robertson himself that it sometimes is hard to believe And I mean that other details are hard to believe For exampleust how influential is he really on Joni Mitchell having played on Raised on Robbery This is a strange one because I didn t know that he had played on it and he s one of my all time favorite guitarists and songwriters But that always stuck out for me as the one song that didn t fit seamlessly into Court and Spark as an album It s a great song but it sounds like it belongs on another album So even if he can be credited for the change in the sound I m not really sure that its credit I would want to takeFinally given the amount of time he has spent with really amazing figures Dylan Joni Mitchell Allan Tossaint etc there isn t a whole lot of insight into any of their personalities Though the stuff with him and Mitchell and David Geffen in Paris is really fun With Dylan I almost suspect that Dylan has spent so much time making himself an enigma that Robertson decided he would respect that by not revealing too muchI m glad I read this I would like also to read Levon s book if I can find it Ultimately it doesn t matter to me that much which members of The Band were assholes to the others They were around as a group for about the same amount of time as the Beatles and may be the next most talented collection of musicians That s enough I thoroughly enjoyed this book Fan of The Band "HUGE Fan Of Levon I Found It Pretty Sad Knowing "fan of Levon I found it pretty sad Knowing we know about what happens between them and that Rick Richard and Levon are gone I found it sentimental and heart wrenching that 3 brothers ended up bitterly fighting and broke up An excellent autobiography of a rock and roll star Robbie Robertson of The Band Such works can be duds can be okay or can be really good This is in the latter category The book traces the arc of his career through The Last Waltz as The Band
Terminated Its CareerWe Get Aits careerWe get a sense of Robertson growing up coming from an intriguing background of native Americans and Jews The book does a nice ob of tracing his youth and the point when he was very young 16 beginning a music career He got a break by working with Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks Over time the Hawks change as new talent comes in Garth Hudson Rich Danko Richard Manuel and Levon Helm At one point they go their way and Ronnie Hawkins goes his as per Bob Dylan You go your way and I ll go mineThey end up backing Bob Dylan on his bizarre transition from folk singer to rock and roll Then after Dylan s motorcycle accident they drift to Woodstock begin a studio back up Dylan on the Basement Tapes and become The Band The story of their rise in the music world their tours their personal lives are all well told Their successes Then the tolls drugs stress and so onThen the time came for the finale Robertson and mothers got Martin Scorcese to direct their farewell concert as a movie The Last Waltz The book does a fine ob describing the technical issues and challenges getting the project to work The denoument What a fine way to end a group s career For fans of The Band this memoir by their main song writer and guitarist is a treasure trove of his memories childhood learning guitar the ritual passing through bands that led him to the music of the southern United States blues and R B rockabilly and gospel that permeated the playing he did first with Ronnie Hawkins and The Hawks then with Bob Dylan when that artist went electric and then with Levon Helm Richard Manuel Garth Hudson and Rick Danko as The Band It s rich with detail and opinions of the many things he saw and heard in his travels and evocative of the times and places of those decades A colorful kaleidoscope of the 50 s 60 s and 70 s The only shortcoming is that it only covers the period up to and including the filming of Martin Scorsese s The Last Waltz their farewell concert to the world Obviously a second volume is needed to catch this memoir of a complex life up to the present day BH I enjoyed this book a a lot than I thought I would I kind of expected Robbie to include a lot of myth making as he did in the interview segments of The Last Waltz and maybe name dropping I also thought he would be getting even with some of the things that other Band members notably Helm said about him over the yearsI was wrong Robertson s prose is lean and descriptive and he s good at capturing characterizations His characterizations of Band members are warm and seem from listening to them over the decades accurate as to their talents and shortcomings He doesn t try to counter some charges as the others or not explicitly but presents the story as he sees it without arguing In the end it s an engaging book Oftentimes funny and he doesn t shy away from his own problems notably drugs though not as bad as some of hi Last fall four autobiographies were released by some of the biggest names in music history Bruce Springsteen Born To Run Phil Collins Not Dead Yet Live Brian Wilson I Am Brian Wilson A Memoir and Robbie Robertson who named his autobiography Testimony Knopf after one of his compositions Of those four I was most keenly interested in hearing from Robertson particularly since I couldn t book him for a CBC Radio Documentary I co produced with Kevin Courrier in 2008 I assumed he would have offered some first rate memories that happily are now in print And since I am a fellow Torontonian many of the places he writes about are familiar to meRobertson has penned an. One of the most spellbinding entertaining major books of the fall the long awaited memoir from the Canadian music legend takes us candidly in his own voice into his extraordinary life and friendships with some of the greatest artists of the last half century Robbie Robertson's singular contributions to popular music have made him one of the most beloved songwriters and guitarists of all time But few could have expected that a young Canadian would pen some of the most distinctively American songs music that seems soaked in the mythology of the Old South With songs like The Weight The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down and Up on Cripple Cree. ,
Idealistic autobiography that is not for fans of revisionist history These are my stories this is my voice my song Testimony is one hell of a tale and a hefty one at 500 pages As a young man growing up in Toronto he was captured by the sounds of rock n roll country and blues music that never left him His aboriginal mother from the Mohawk Nation in Ontario had a very rich musical family whose strong sense of traditional storytelling was eually matched by their skills as musicians He reports on his many visits to the Six Nations Reserve in Southwest Ontario with great affection On the banks of the Grand River I found a uiet spot and sat for a while musical memories swirling around in my head This is where it had all begun for me Robertson recalls from 1966One never doubts that what he says is true and sincere But at times it all seems too neat and tidy Although I was struck by the profundity of what his mother told him at a young age Be proud to be an Indian but be careful who you tell Robertson makes no use of this portal into his own life Testimony is about all the good stuff than the bad which is occasionally passed off as remote memory he tells you about the often crazy events in his life but never fully explains their meaning I prefer biographies that get under the skin of their subjects how they think and why the artistic choices they made stemmed from one profound moment That moment for Robertson didn t come with his mother s advice or after learning his real father was killed during the Second World War but when he was 16 years of age on his first trip south to Dom dzienny dom nocny join Ronnie Hawkins in ArkansasRobertson finds comfort in the music and weaves a great tale about his early days with the Hawks and Hawkins their charismatic front man Robertson s experiences as the guitar player in Hawkins s band read as enthusiastic heartfelt memories of his life To think that in 1959 for instance he was earning 125 a week and wearing suits designed by fellow Torontonian Lou Myles while his friends were stuck in high school but it s a little too uaint These passages interspersed with memories of his childhood seem compartmentalized scenes described by an outsider looking in rather than by a participant Nevertheless he does offer some moments of self discovery Myob in life at age twenty two was to learn to absorb the magic and to have a real good time along the way Perhaps Robertson feels the need to be distant from the painful events involving race addiction organized crime bosses while fully enjoying the stories of his days with Ronnie Hawkins Bob Dylan and The Band As he told Tom Power on CBC Radio s in November he felt lighter after carrying the weight of all these stories and setting them free Many of the stories in Testimony are already familiar to his fans only without his insight And it is the latter part of his life after 1965 covered in the middle chapters that is most engaging Here we begin to understand Robertson s songwriting process We learn that he wrote The Weight in one sitting after being inspired by the Luis Bu uel film Viridiana We also get some details into one of his best songs penned for Levon Helm The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down written from the point of view of a SouthernerThroughout the book Robertson reports on his timely and unexpected meetings with other musicians and artists during his youth For instance in 1965 Bob Dylan is introduced to him by John Hammond Jr during the recording sessions for Like A Rolling Stone One of his first gigs away from The Hawks was with Dylan whom he befriended in due course We also learn that he did the stereo mix of Dylan s Blonde On Blonde Hammond also introduces him to Jimmy James Jimi Hendrix by way of a club date in New York He also hangs out with Andy Warhol and The Velvet Underground attends a house party with Salvador Dali and plays with street musician Tiny Tim Robertson always seems to be in the right place at the right time either at a party or a gig or after a concert But while his book often reads like a series of introductions with some serious name dropping the ride that Robertson and therefore the reader finds himself on is sweeping in its speed and successFor me the best information doesn t really come until after the 1966 tour with Bob Dylan As the story goes after the tumultuous world tour of 1966 where fans booed and threw things at the band The Hawks relocated to the area of Woodstock NY and the house known as Big Pink This was following Dylan s decision to rest and regroup after his motorcycle accident The years 1967 to 1974 are well covered and offer some marvelous details into the songwriting process Robertson and his band mates developed during those fertile years This includes the Basement Tapes story and the origin of The Band s name their signing with Capitol Records and their worldwide successRobertson constantly sings the praises of Bob Dylan during this time and spreads compliments to Garth Hudson Rick Danko Richard Manuel and Levon Helm his brothers and considering the uality of the group s output starting with their debut album Music from Big Pink he s not being sentimental During these productive years after 1968 the group smoked a lot of pot and was pretty reckless with their cars on the country roads of upstate New York but Robertson seems to pull his punches on the subject of the group s drug abuse At one point Helm Danko and Manuel were using so much heroin that it was affecting the band s very existence In Robertson s view this had a huge impact on the success of the group and left him the only one who could pull them altogether What s implicit in Testimony is the idea that if not for Robertson The Band wouldn t have existed in the first place With their consent he negotiated publishing and recording deals with the help of trusted business partners such as Albert Grossman He also encouraged the group to tour whenever the opportunity arose What he couldn t do was stop the heroin abuse until he discovered the source of their problem touringThe book ends with the Last Waltz project a filmed concert and semi biographical documentary about The Band which came after much discussion and planning in 1976 Martin Scorsese directed it Here we learn of Robertson s attempt to get his band off the road and off smack As he "Says I Worried That Garth "I worried that Garth I had three unkies in our group plus our so called manager Finally I declared No no one was opposed to the idea Robertson reports that all the members of The Band felt it was time to take a break from the many temptations that were affecting their health The Last Waltz was their way of going out big after sixteen years on the road According to Robertson it was his hope and the hope of the other members of the group that recovery could only happen if they didn t tour again But he underestimated the last concert s effect on the group as he admits in the coda This train we d been riding for so long was pulling into the station not ust for touring not ust for recording but for everything Robertson is often blamed for the breakup of The Band based on the mistaken belief one that I long held that only he was tired of the road not the whole group who simply needed a vacation to dry out and start again Robertson dispels that myth in Testimony As he writes I thought I knew where I wanted to go and what my calling was but if I hadn t hopped that southbound train who knows IndeedRobertson s book is essential reading on the
history of The Band and his particular skills as the de facto leader of the group Itof The Band and his particular skills as the de facto leader of the group It a story full not of spite ill will or petty ealousy but of love and respect and fairness three of the least appreciated ualities in the music businessAt the TIFF presentation I attended in November Robertson reported that he was working on a second volume This is a faboulas comentary on the carreer of the author in rock and roll It starts out with his early years in The Hawks and then continues through his illustrious carreer in The Bannd Robbie Robertson speaks of their successes as well as the pitfalls they incountered through drugs and alcoholI highly recommend this book for I believe that The Bannd is the best band ever assembled caveat i am a giant band fan and also played his solo debut robbie robertson 1987 on repeat through most of 8788 and which has a track called testimony on it which is to say i was a bit stupid excited for this book robertson is a storyteller as a songwriter and that transfers well to his memoir there wasn t a huge amount of new information for me in testimony yet it was still very enjoyable and engaging while of course this is only robertson s perspective on the years spanning his time K Robertson and his partners in The Band fashioned a new popular music lexicon that has endured for decades influencing countless musiciansIn this captivating memoir of The Band's storied career Robertson weaves together his half Jewish half Mohawk upbringing on the Brantford Six Nations Reserve and in Toronto; his odyssey south at sixteen and rollicking early years on the road with rockabilly legend Ronnie Hawkins; the slow formation of The Band their trial by fire with Bob Dylan on his 1966 world tour and the forging of their uniue sound He recounts being catapulted to fame with the success of their groundbreaking debut and takes us through th.