Weekend Music Video: Richard Manuel, Remembered

“For if I live again, these hopes will never die
I can feel you standing there
But I don’t see you anywhere.”

It was one of the world’s great bands, filled with five extraordinary musicians melting into one: Robbie Robertson, Rick Danko, Levon Helm, Garth Hudson, and Richard Manuel. I am referring, of course, to The Band. Of them all, I count Richard Manuel as my favorite.

There was an integrity and vulnerability in his voice that could not be denied. Robbie Robertson described it this way: “There’s a certain element of pain in there — you didn’t know if he was trying to reach the note or he was just a guy with a heart that had been hurt.”

Plagued throughout much of his life with alcohol and drug addictions, Richard Manuel contributed songs with diminishing frequency as time passed. He hanged himself at age 40 on March 4, 1986, in a Quality Inn hotel room.  Had he lived, Richard would have turned 67 this past April 3nd. But those of us with ears to hear can still feel him standing there. That lonesome falsetto, the emotion quavering and yet powerful, his haunted, hunted spirit. It was all there when he sang.

Please watch this brief tribute, featuring a sublime live take of “Whispering Pines.” It will do your soul good. Interview comments from Robbie Robertson, Levon Helm, Rick Danko, and Eric Clapton. By the way, that’s Garth Hudson in the hat on keyboards at the end of the clip.

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WHISPERING PINES — music & lyrics by Richard Manuel, Robbie Robertson

If you find me in a gloom, or catch me in a dream
Inside my lonely room there is no in between
Whispering pines, rising of the tide
If only one star shines
That’s just enough to get inside

I will wait until it all goes ’round
With you in sight the lost are found
Foghorn through the night, calling out to sea
Protect my only light, ’cause she once belonged to me

Let the waves rush in, let the seagulls cry
For if I live again, these hopes will never die
I can feel you standing there
But I don’t see you anywhere

Standing by the well, wishing for the rains
Reaching for the clouds, for nothing else remains
Drifting in a daze, when evening will be done
Try looking through a haze
At an empty house, in the cold, cold sun

I will wait until it all goes round
With you in sight. the lost are found

One comment

  1. Kurtis says:

    Nice post. I’m more of a Levon Helm guy, but the main thing is that I love The Band. Greatest American band Canada ever produced.

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