Friday, April 20, 2012

The Weight (RIP Levon Helm)

Youngblood has a lot of traditions, and most of them are really fucking great. But I would be willing to bet every finger on my right hand that if you asked any Youngblood member past or present, what the most important, heart exploding tradition is, they would say, without missing a beat: Listening to The Weight while crossing the George Washington Bridge on the way back from retreat.
This happens twice a year. We go upstate and spend two and a half drunken days reading plays, writing plays, and marveling at how the world looks outside of the city. And then after these two and a half idyllic days we load into whatever van or RV or other unsafe vehicle that RJ has secured for us, and head back to New York. All of us at this point exhausted and hungover and almost but not quite ready to be back in our own beds. And then we get to the GW, and we're stuck in traffic, and we're waiting to get onto the bridge, and Graeme waits, and he waits, and then, at the precise moment the wheels of whichever unsafe vehicle we're in hit the bridge, he turns on The Weight. And it is magic. It is magic because it's tradition, and because we all know it's coming and we've all been waiting for it, and knowing this and waiting for this lets us know that we're part of something amazing. But it's also magic because the song is basically perfect. And for this, we have Mr. Levon Helm to thank.
And so, to him, I say: Thank you, and rest in peace. And to you, I say: Enjoy.

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