Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Tres: Day 247
Mon. Nov. 04, 2013
With apologies to Bono & U2— Stephanie Meyer stole this title from The Band and today… we’re reclaiming it back from her. I know it’s been a few years but I believe it’s time that someone finally puts a metaphorical steak inside the heart of Meyer’s ill fated juvenile book series. Hopefully, you will rediscover through the glorious sound of this underrated song, when you hear the word, instead of that horrible vampire book, The Band’s “Twilight” will be the song that will appear lyrically soothing inside of your weary head.
“Twilight” would have stayed in annals of vampire hypocrisy if The Band hadn’t decided to release this nugget as drummer Levon Helm explained in his book, The Wheels on Fire: Levon Helm and the Story of The Band, “We has an outtake called “Twilight,” a little reggae song that we liked enough to use as the B-side to the “Acadian Driftwood” single and to put in the set when we started playing shows [in 1975].”
Instead of dueling vampires and werewolves, we have members of The Band battling it out for the best version of the song “Twilight.” While Robbie Robertson composed the track, it was vocalist Rick Danko who’s voiced graced the final version.
Robbie Robertson talked about one of my favorite versions of “Twilight,” ‘the song sketch’ version released on The Band’s box set A Musical History, to Barney Hoskyns in his book Across The Great Divide: The Band & America, when he said, “There’s a couple of things that I didn’t remember[…] there was a tape of me playing ‘Twilight’ for the guys. When they played me that I thought, “I don’t remember this at all.”
When asked by Hoskyns why he didn’t sing in the officially released version of “Twilight,” Robertson replied, “Because there was something in the nature of The Band where everybody did their bit and it wasn’t like a singer/guitar player and some other guys. I also enjoyed the position of being able to write something and cast it.” You can tell from this early alternate take of “Twilight” from the Northern Lights – Southern Cross album, Robbie didn’t mind just being the composer and leaving his song to be sung by Rick leaving all the spotlight to Danko.
Before passing away, Danko was the one member of The Band who cloaked himself inside the lyrical beauty by performing “Twilight” the most. In an interview with Matthew Lewis, Rick explained why this once, almost, forgotten Band B-side was just as much his creation as it was Robbie Robertson’s when Danko said, “I hate to say this, but it’s as much of a Rick Danko song as it is a Robbie Robertson song. I just forgot to seek (credit). Robbie was very tight with sharing those responsibilities. That’s why he’s where he is, and that’s why we are where we are, to make a long story short… He’ll say he did it all, if you give him the opportunity.”
Regardless of which singer you prefer, Danko or Robertson, you have to agree that The Band clearly have earned the right to take back the bragging rights to Twilight. Stephanie Meyer may have attempted to steal “Twilight,” but Rick Danko and Robbie Robertson have immortalized this title within the timeless confines of this glorious song.
I believe Charles Nicholl should have been talking about this gem of a “Twilight” song eclipsing Meyer’s book, when, in The Dylan Companion, he eloquently wrote, “Even more…opening up for us a whole new imaginative world. These places he sang from were inside his head, somewhere else to be, separate realities. […] but perhaps it was [The Band and] Dylan’s poetry that [first] kicked us out of ourselves. The poetry and the music, coming out of its special twilight: the voice, the band, the harmonica blowing it all away at the end.” We at DFTS-365 are hopeful that you are convinced, when you hear the term “Twilight” you finally forget about the vampires, and let this vintage Band song soothe you, while serenading your lyrical mind, instead.