Last week a part of the brain trust that is On the Flip-Side explored a selected work by Gram Parsons entitled A Song For You. But as we looked back on our selection -- as we like to do -- we felt we failed to satisfactorily credit Emmylou Harris for her huge contribution to the success of the beautiful Parsons song. Well, lucky for all of us, Emmylou Harris returns for a second straight week (an honor not ever bestowed before) on our Song of the Week selection.
This week's installment finds the crack staff at Flip-Side's Rocky Mountain offices listening to copious amounts of the Canadian/American band, The Band. In particular we have been listening to the Robbie Robertson penned waltz, Evangeline as it was filmed on a soundstage in San Francisco by Martin Scorcese for the must-own 1978 film, The Last Waltz.
The song demonstrates vintage Robertson lyrics of a romanticized Southern heritage lost or never had. In this instance he explores the sinking of a riverboat named The Mississippi Queen that takes down the gambler, Bayou Sam, to a watery grave. Evangeline, his faithful lover, "high on the top of Hickory Hill/she stands in the lightning and thunder" as she is forced to watch helplessly as the Mississippi Queen goes under.
In one of three scenes filmed on a sound stage, we get to see The Band as they rotate their musical instruments and nicely showcase their multi-threat vocalists. The always-pain-stricken sounding Rick Danko opens with the first verse and then gives way to the angelic sounding, and looking, Emmylou Harris who, in contrast to last week, gets a much deserved vocal lead here. Then, after a brief music break in which Arkansan Levon Helm, who usually mans the drums, takes us on a nice little tour of his mandolin skills and shows why he is one of my all-time favorite singers. After that, it's some pretty sweet 4-part harmonies as Richard Manuel joins the others to fill out the last two verses. It's a more than pleasing sight to watch.