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Music / The Band (Album)

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"Virgil Caine is the name and I served on the Danville train / 'Til Stoneman's cavalry came and tore up the tracks again..."

The Band is the second studio album by The Band, released in 1969. It is also known by the Fan Nickname The Brown Album. It's best known for the hits "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down", "Rag Mama Rag" and "Up on Cripple Creek".

In 2009 the record was inducted in the National Recording Registry for being "culturally, historically or aesthetically important". It was also subject of a documentary episode about the creative process behind the making of the album in the TV documentary series Classic Albums.


Side One

  1. "Across the Great Divide" (2:52)
  2. "Rag Mama Rag" (3:02)
  3. "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" (3:30)
  4. "When You Awake" (3:10)
  5. "Up on Cripple Creek" (4:29)
  6. "Whispering Pines" (3:55)

Side Two

  1. "Jemima Surrender" (3:30)
  2. "Rockin' Chair" (3:40)
  3. "Look Out Cleveland" (3:07)
  4. "Jawbone" (4:17)
  5. "The Unfaithful Servant" (4:15)
  6. "King Harvest (Has Surely Come)" (3:35)

Principal Members:

  • Rick Danko - lead vocals, bass, fiddle, trombone
  • Levon Helm - lead vocals, drums, guitar, mandolin
  • Garth Hudson - keyboard, organ, clavinet, piano, accordion, melodica, saxophone, trumpet, bass pedals
  • Richard Manuel - lead vocals, piano, drums, saxophone, harmonica
  • Robbie Robertson - guitar

The Night They Wrote All These Tropes Down...

  • The American Civil War: "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" is about the last days of this war and the suffering of white Southerners.
  • Call to Agriculture: The album shows great sympathy to the American South and the difficult life in the countryside.
  • Concept Album: The Band is seen as a concept album, focusing on people, places and traditions associated with an older version of Americana.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The album cover, though the photo of the band is framed in brown, coining it the nickname The Brown Album.
  • Face on the Cover: A picture of the band, framed in the centre of the album cover image.
  • Intercourse with You: "Jemima Surrender"
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Listen to the lyrics of "Up On Cripple Creek" and Bessie starts to sound like this.
  • No Ending: "When You Awake" fades out while Danko is still in the middle of a line.
  • One-Woman Song: "Jemima Surrender", where the love interest is identified as being named "Jemima".
  • One-Word Title: "Jawbone".
  • The Power of Love: "Jemima Surrender"
    Sweet Jemima, if I were a king
    I'd fix you up with a diamond ring
  • Protest Song: "King Harvest (Has Surely Come)" possibly qualifies.
    Last year, this time, wasn't no joke,
    My whole barn went up in smoke
    My horse Jethro, well, he went mad
    And I can't ever remember things bein' that bad
    Now here comes a man with a paper and pen
    Tellin' us our hard times are about to end
    And then, if they don't give us what we like
    He said, "Men, that's when you gotta go on strike!"
  • Record Producer: John Simon, who's had a very distinguished career. He also plays various instruments on several tracks.
  • Retraux: Much of the album is steeped in an old-timey aesthetic. Ditto the cover design.
  • Self-Titled Album: Their only album named after themselves.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Virgil Caine, the protagonist of "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down".
  • Shout-Out:
    • The original LP back cover quotes the opening lines from Shelton Brooks' 1917 composition "Darktown Strutters' Ball".
    • "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" mentions Civil War generals George Stoneman and Robert E. Lee.
    • "Up On Cripple Creek":
      Now me and my mate were back at the shack
      We had Spike Jones on the box
      She said, "I can't take the way he sings
      But I love to hear him talk"
  • Soprano and Gravel: "Whispering Pines".
  • A Storm Is Coming: "Look Out Cleveland".
    Look out, Cleveland, the storm is comin' through
    And it's runnin' right up on you.
    Look out, Houston, there'll be thunder on the hill...
  • Tattoo as Character Type: The protagonist in "Jemima Surrender" wants to show off his tattoo to Jemima.
    Ain't no pretender, wanna see my tattoo?.
  • Uncommon Time: "Jawbone" has time signatures all over the place.
  • Vocal Tag Team: Very much in their classic mode, most memorably on "Jawbone", which is done as a back-and-forth between Manuel (as Jawbone), Danko and Helm.