(Capitol CL15559 Sept.1968), a song from The Band
's first album "Music From Big Pink", failed to reach the top 50 in the US but was more successful in UK where it reached no.21 in the singles charts, and featured in the movie "Easy Rider".
The song was very influential with fans and musicians who were part of the Peace Counterculture of the time, and many American and British Folk/country Rock acts dominated the media in the late 60's early 70's.
"The Weight takes the folk music motif of a traveler, who in the first line arrives in Nazareth in the Lehigh Valley region of Pennsylvania. Years later, the band Nazareth took its name from this line. Once there, he encounters various residents of the town, the song being a story of these encounters. The residents include a man who cannot direct the traveler to a hotel, Carmen and the Devil walking side by side, "Crazy Chester," who offers a bed in exchange for the traveler taking his dog, and Luke who is "waiting on Judgment Day", leaving his young bride behind and alone.
The song is no.41 in Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list, published in 2004. Pitchfork Media named it the thirteenth best song of the Sixties. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame named it one of the 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.
According to songwriter Robbie Robertson, The Weight was inspired by the films of Luis Buñuel, "In "The Weight" it was this very simple thing. Someone says, "Listen, would you do me this favour? When you get there will you say 'hello' to somebody or will you give somebody this or will you pick up one of these for me? Oh? You’re going to Nazareth, that’s where the Martin guitar factory is. Do me a favour when you’re there." This is what it’s all about. So the guy goes and one thing leads to another and it’s like "Holy s**t, what’s this turned into? I’ve only come here to say 'hello' for somebody and I’ve got myself in this incredible predicament."
THE WEIGHT LYRICS -
I pulled into Nazareth, I was feelin' about half past dead;
I just need some place where I can lay my head.
"Hey, mister, can you tell me where a man might find a bed?"
He just grinned and shook my hand, and "No!", was all he said.
Take a load off Fannie, take a load for free;
Take a load off Fannie, And (and) (and) you can put the load right on me.
I picked up my bag, I went lookin' for a place to hide;
When I saw Carmen and the Devil walkin' side by side.
I said, "Hey, Carmen, come on, let's go downtown."
She said, "I gotta go, but m'friend can stick around."
Go down, Miss Moses, there's nothin' you can say
It's just ol' Luke, and Luke's waitin' on the Judgement Day.
"Well, Luke, my friend, what about young Anna Lee?"
He said, "Do me a favor, son, woncha stay an' keep Anna Lee
Crazy Chester followed me, and he caught me in the fog.
He said, "I will fix your rags, if you'll take Jack, my dog."
I said, "Wait a minute, Chester, you know I'm a peaceful man."
He said, "That's okay, boy, won't you feed him when you can."
Catch a Cannonball, now, t'take me down the line
My bag is sinkin' low and I do believe it's time.
To get back to Miss Annie, you know she's the only one.
Who sent me here with her regards for everyone.