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Take a Load Off, Fanny

levonhelm.jpgThis story may not mean much to most of you, but there are people in this world — people that I know personally — who were flabbergasted, heartbroken, and left melancholy for weeks the first time they heard the Cingular commercial featuring The Band’s “The Weight.” It wasn’t bad enough that Dylan had sold his soul to Victoria’s Secret a few years back, but for the remaining middle-agers who spent the 1960s and early 70s living off the fat of the land and listening to The Band while bathing in the stream behind the outhouse, it was crushing to hear that the last remaining vestige of that era had given in to the corporate whores that they had eschewed for so long.

As it turns out though, it wasn’t The Band’s fault. Or at least, not drummer Levon Helm’s fault. Levon is suing BBDO, the Manhattan advertising firm behind the commercial, for its use of the The Band’s biggest hit.

As Helm, who now lives in Woodstock, NY, said, “It was just a complete, damn sellout of The Band — its reputation, its music; just as much disrespect as you could pour on Richard [Manuel] and Rick [Danko’s] tombstones.”

The one disappointing facet of the lawsuit, however, is that Helm is not suing the firm for unauthorized use of the song; rather, he’s suing because he feels he wasn’t adequately compensated for the song’s use. But then again, from what I know from one of “those people” who recently visited Helm at his Woodstock home, the man is getting on up there in years and looks a little on the frail side. Maybe dude needs to spend his golden years in front of a flat-screen television re-watching DVDs of himself during the glory years. Hang in there, Levon.

| Comments (1)


I hate to say this, but being the youngster that I am, the cingular commercial was my first exposure to The Band.

I went and found out what it was, and got a greatest hits cd....

On the plus side, I don't use cingular (read AT&T) services.