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Testimony: A Rock ‘n’ Roll Life
A spellbinding memoir from one of rock’s greatest storytellers
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 this past century’s most distinctively American songs, music that seems soaked in the mythology and traditions of the Old South. With songs like “The Weight,” “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” and “Up on Cripple Creek,” Robertson and his partners in the Band introduced a new popular music lexicon that has endured for decades, influencing countless musicians and styles.
In this remarkable memoir of the group’s storied career, Robertson weaves together tales of his half-Jewish, half-Mohawk Indian upbringing in Toronto with his rollicking early years on the road with rockabilly legend Ronnie Hawkins; he recalls the slow formation of the Band as each future member joined Hawkins’s backing band, their trial-by-fire supporting of Bob Dylan on his 1966 world tour, and the cloistered sessions at the legendary Big Pink house in Saugerties, New York, that produced The Basement Tapes and forged the group’s unique sound. He recounts being catapulted to fame with the success of their groundbreaking debut and takes us through the astonishing run of albums that culminated in one of music history’s most famous farewell concerts, The Last Waltz.
More broadly, this is the story of a time and place—the moment when rock ’n’ roll crawled out of the swamps and became life, when electric blues legends like Muddy Waters and Otis Rush crisscrossed the circuit of clubs and roadhouses from Texas to Toronto. It’s the story of change, as America tumbled through the ’60s, and of how figures like Dylan and the Band redefined both music and culture, with a little help from sex and drugs. And it’s the story of the profound friendship between five young men who together would create a new kind of popular music, one that still fascinates us.
Publish Date: 11/15/2016
ISBN: 9780307889782, 0307889785