" Call me a relic call me what you want,

Say I'm old fashioned say I'm over the hill.

Still like that old time rock and roll,

That kind of music just soothes my soul,

I reminisce about days of old,

With that olds time rock and roll.

Written by George Jackson and Thomas E. Jones III

Song by Bob Seeger and the Silver Bullet Band - 1979

I spent the afternoon enjoying my Christmas present from Sharon - the 1 book, 5 CD, 1 DVD

boxed set of A MUSICAL HISTORY of The Band.

On Thursday November 25th [ Thanksgiving ] 1976 The Band gave its final farewell concert at

Winterland in San Fransisco, the same venue where they first performed as The Band way back in

1969. After a turkey dinner with all the fixings enjoyed by 5000 lucky fans and a live performance

of orchestral waltz music , The Band took the stage, complete with its backdrop of the set of

La Traviata rented from the San Fransisco Opera Company and chandeliers from GONE WITH

THE WIND, for their last hurrah. With the help of friends, an unparalled lineup of rock ' n ' roll

superstars that included Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, and Ringo Starr of the Beatles,

Ron Wood of the Rolling Stones, Stephen Stills of Crosby Stills and Nash, what began as a con-

cert turned into a 5 hour celebration. The celebration was filmed by Acadamy Award winning

director Martin Scorsese and released as THE LAST WALTZ.

The Band is considered one of the finest and most unique ensembles in the history of rock

and roll. Rick Danko, Levon Helm, Garth Hudson, Richard Manuel and Robbie Robertson

" collectively constitute the only ensemble to ever rightfully earn the sobriquet The Band. "

The Band fills a special place in my heart and soul. Their incredible 2nd album, simply titled

THE BAND, was one of only a handfull of LP's we had to listen to in 1970 when I first lived on

the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation in Montana where I was given Ernest ' Papa '

Hemingway's eagle feather by the Uncle of John Red Breath Yellowhair.The tale of the feather

plays a central role in Hemingway's masterwork UNDER KILIMANJARO and its gift to me

would lead me to write my own tribute to Ernest Hemingway titled ASANTE PAPA!

It seemed fitting to me when I read Barey Huskynsbook, ACROSS THE GREAT DIVIDE: The Band

In America, to come upon a reference { p. 171 } to Ernest Hemingway.

"Coming when they did { with MUSIC FROM BIG PINK and
THE BAND }, after the dizzying psychedelia and acid
jams of 1967, they seemed to signal a retreat from
drugs and sonic overkill - a ' pastoralism ' of the
kind Leo Marx described in his 1967 book THE MACHINE
IN THE GARDEN. Marx, however, distinguished between
writers for whom ' the pastoral instinct ' reflected
only a Freudian sense of ' the need for freedom ' and
those - from Thoreau and Melvelle to Frost and
Hemingway - who had embraced the violence and
loneliness of nature. As musicologist Dave Emblidge
argued, The Band's music may have appealed to many
people because of it's ' country flavor ', but their
pastoralism was rarely idealized, and focused as much
on the pain and darkness of rural life as on ' the
salving beauties of nature '.

In THE TRUE GEN by Denis Brian, Gregory Hemingway reveals that his father quoted him one

thing Papa the 1/8th Northern Cheyenne thought was beautiful - it's imagery made a profound

impression on him.

" He recalled it as the saying of an old Indian Chief
on his death bed in the 1880's.

' What is life?
It is the breath of the buffalo in the winter,It is
the flicker of the firefly in the night,
It is the little shadow that runs across the fields
and loses itself in the sunset ' " .

The actual words of the Indian were,

" It is the flash
of a firefly in the night. It is the liitle shadow
which runs across the grass and loses itself in the
sunset. "

The Chiefs name was Crowfoot.

Robbie Robertson and the Red Road Ensemble, for the booklet that accompanies their CD, MUSIC

FOR THE NATIVE AMERICAN, highlights Crowfoot's words when writing about and giving the

words to their song "Twisted Hair ".

Robbie Robertson was a member of The Band. His music powers of the film POWWOW

HIGHWAY which for many years was only available on used and very expensive VHS cassettes

until the film was reissued in DVD format for the Grand Openning of the Museum of the American

Indian in Washington, D. C. The movie was filmed along Hemingway's ' Western Trail ' I have

been over many times - The Crow and Northern Cheyenne Reservations in Montana and Cody

and Sheridan Wyoming. In POWWOW HIGHWAY, the place where the muffler frops off

Whirlwind Dreamers " war pony " - a 1964 Buick is right near a bend in Lame Deer Creek.

" Up On Cripple Creek " - now there is a song!

And then there is one of my favorites Band cuts - " Across The Great Divide " .

I listen to this song and it transports me back to my 20's - crossing the Lame Deer-Ashland

Divide in my GSA Scout with my good buddy John Red Breath -Yellow Hair riding shotgun singing

Cheyenne Warrior songs.

Davis Fricke in chapter 3 - " The Feeding Of The 5,000 " - of his THE LAST WALTZ - THE BAND

quotes Robbie Robertson.

" ' It was like climbing a mountain,' Robertson says
of the mad dash to Thanksgiving. [ The date for The
Bands farewell concert ] Someone says, ' Yeah, but
what if it snows?' You just gotta keep climbing.
Whatever it took, whatever anybody needed, you tried
to accommodate as much as you could. We tried to make
the most sense from the limitations we had. "

The Robertson quote prompts me to ponder the inscription on a piece of paper Hemingway

placed in his original manuscript of A FAREWELL TO ARMS which reads:

" The Hill Of Heaven ".

And, the inscription on another sheet of paper Hemingway interleaved among the pages of his

original manuscript of FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS:

" People are not as they end up { finish } but as they
are in the finest point they ever reach: It is an
altimeter which registers the ultimate height that is
reached. "

I shared some of these thoughts with my friend John Chapman who is a huge Band fan and

was with me on the Reservation in the " old days ". John wrote :

I liked the "altimeter," metaphor. I think
we hit several high points at different times in our
lives in different areas. you might hit a career high
spot in your thirties and a interpersonal high tide in
your forties, or a physical accomplishment in your
twenties. I try to keep pushing the physical
intellectual and emotional components of my life along
not that the altimeter reading in any one of them will
necessarily reach previous heights (not that they
werer ever dizzying).

John signed off with " Good luck with those fire hydrants. " John knew for the last 2 1/2 years

I have spent a part of my days flushing, flagging, painting, and maintaining Chatham's fire


At this time of the year I think I will try to give a push to the spiritual component of my life by

giving thanks. Perhaps a little rock ' n ' roll might help that ' altimeter ' rise. I'll play the soundtrack

to the recent firefighting flick LADDER 49. Robbie Robertson wrote and sings the words and plays


Shine your light down on me
Lift me up so i can see
Shine your light when you're gone
Give me the strength
To carry on, carry on


Paul Hammersten


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Rag, Momma Rag
What's come over you?
Rag, Momma rag,
I can't believe it's true.

Well it's dog eat dog
and cat eat mouse
you can rag, momma rag
All over the house.

There was a time when we would go see the Band anywhere they played on the East coast (within reason)

As unpopular as it is to mention it, Neil Diamond performed at that Thanksgiving gig, too. :)

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