...you must read this book.
Levon's down-home personality floods every page, and makes you wish you'd known him and his family growing up. Honestly, I probably enjoyed the chapters about his childhood as much or more than the chapters about being in one of my favorite groups--The Band.
There are some self-serving moments, but hey, they're illuminating too! Check out how casually Levon dismisses his own drug addiction in the early 70s, and completely ignores the fact that THAT might have contributed to the rift between the rest of them and Robbie (Rick and Richard were addicts too). He blames the rift primarily on Robbie's receiving most of the writing credits, but if everybody else was strung-out, SOMEBODY needed to write the songs!!! Oh yeah, and Levon devotes a few paragraphs too many to an incident in which Ronnie Hawkins claimed that Levon had a large genital appendage...not really the sort of information I was looking for... Apparently these guys were knee-deep in the hedonistic lifestyle too, but Levon doesn't much go into that...which is probably for the best.
And oh boy, there are shades to the relationship between Robbie Robertson and Levon Helm that go far beyond what I previously realized...after reading this, you'll NEVER watch "The Last Waltz" the same way again. Man, oh man! Robbie comes off as less than likable, to put it kindly. And I gotta say, this isn't just a one-sided account, because Rick is quoted extensively too. Seems like money and fame can really wreck the best of friendships. Here's how.
If you'd prefer to think of the Band as a bunch of kindly guys who simply had fun recording good albums, you might want to stay away from this book! But if you'd like to see what sort of stuff was going on behind the scenes, and what fuels the continuing bitterness between the surviving members, or if you want to know more about Richard Manuel's untimely death, this book is your best source.