May 26, 1940 Remembering Levon Helm on his birthday.
I pulled in to Nazareth…
That’s the first line of The Weight. I know now this is a town in Pennsylvania, but in 1970 I thought this was the theme song for my high school, Nazareth Catholic High School in Brooklyn.
When I pulled into Nazareth for the first time it was like entering a frat house. An all-guys high school with young hip teachers and a couple of stuffy brothers (religious brothers, that is).
I entered the music room downstairs and that’s where I met Kenny Kirkland. He and Lenny Sinisgalli (arranger, sax player who wrote….some jingle….Schaefer beer?) were playing a blues. I knew I was in the right place.
There was a room down the hall from the music room called S.A.C. (student activity council). This is where the magic happened, where all the debauchery was planned. In my class I had a great gang of real dudes who became very close. There was Dennis Cheng (he passed away some years back. I wonder if his dad is still alive…) and Mark Boyle (both he and Dennis were best men at my wedding) and Tommy Ryder and Joe Bonacci. There was Jude Hayes, and Higgy and Neil Spadaro who became a top cop in NYPD and Tim Gallagher who I’ve reconnected with on facebook and Michael Deering, one of the funniest dudes ever, who passed away in 2008. We were a crew to rival Belushi’s on Animal House.
Well, this song, The Weight, was played at every dance in high school, and I’ve listened to it for thirty years and today is the first time I’ve ever sang it.
Happy Birthday Levon. Rock history. You were the soundtrack of my life.