The Band song that Robbie Robertson doesn’t understand

Robbie Robertson

While The Band was still working on Music From Big Pink, ideas for a track that subsequently became ‘Up On Cripple Creek’ were arriving to guitarist Robbie Robertson. After spending time in Woodstock, he moved to Montreal, where his daughter Alexandra was born soon after. The cold enveloped Montreal, and snow covered Woodstock.

Robertson traveled to Hawaii in search of a change of scenery and some warmth. “Really,” he said in twenty-two. “As some kind of a way to get some warmth and to begin preparing for making our second album”. The song follows a drunken mountain man and his love interest, Bessie. His extensive journeys in pursuit of brighter climates and inspiration inspired it.

“I think it was pieces and ideas coming on during that traveling process that sparked the idea about a man who just drives these trucks across the whole country,” Robbie Robertson said. “I don’t remember where I sat down and finished the song, though.”Similarly, despite the fact that Robertson created a fully developed character who likes betting on horses and watching his girl dip doughnuts in her tea, it does not appear that Robertson is aware of his origins.

“We’re not dealing with people at the very top of the food chain.” “We’re asking, ‘What about that house out there in the middle of that field?'” he said. “What does this guy think, with only one light on upstairs and that truck parked outside?”.However,  The person I am interested in is him.” The intrigue lent itself perfectly to the lyrics. It spells out “a drunkard’s dream” in such a fuzzy way. Listening to it you can tell Robertson wasn’t sure where this mythical character came from.

He was “just following the story” as it came to him, he added, musing about the individual he’d envisioned. “This person, he just drives these trucks across the whole country. He knows these characters that he drops in on, on his travels,”. He went on to say. “Just following him with a camera is really what this song’s all about.”

However, there are hints of Robertson’s influence. Such as the lyric “Now me and my mate were back at the shack / We had Spike Jones on the box.” Jones, an eccentric bandleader from the 1940s, captivated Robertson. “He could take a song and do his own odd and out-of-the-box – and often hilarious – impression of it. I liked him.”

While there are some personal parts, the song’s beauty originates from the fact that Robertson couldn’t even make sense of its composition himself.

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