Leaving a city that you’ve visited and liked is never a happy experience, however short your sojourn to that place might have been. You feel low and wish you’d have had some more time to spend there. And if it’s a city as vibrant and as much a blend of the old and new as Berlin is, the sadness is greater. So it wasn’t with buoyant spirits that we boarded the taxi to go to the airport that afternoon. The music playing inside the cab was soothing. It was a piano sonata. Mozart’s in A minor, and the cabbie turned around to ask us whether we wanted it changed. I looked at my only co-passenger, my eight-year-old daughter, and asked her if it was fine. Yes, she pensively nodded. Read more

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A couple of days after Levon Helm, drummer, singer and key member of The Band, the legendary rock group of the 1960s and 70s (and then again the 80s and the 90s), died in the middle of last month, I got to hear a podcast that excerpted two radio interviews with Helm—one from 1993 and the other 2007. There was a distinct difference in Helm’s voice between the two interviews. In the 1993 interview he sounded exactly like he did on The Weight. Remember The Weight? 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. What a gorgeous song that is. The vocals were shared by three of The Band’s singers. Besides Helm, there was Richard Manuel and Rick Danko. The song itself was written by guitarist Robbie Robertson who, I read somewhere, was inspired by the films of Luis Bunuel to write The Weight. Read more

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