Lonesome Liz: Whistlin’ Dixie With Levon

Lonesome Liz Video Filmed by Alix Mattingly,  alixmattingly.com.

I had the rare opportunity to see Mr. Helm perform at Woodstock a number of times last year and to meet him. I also saw Hubert Sumlin around the same time, who Mr. Helm performed with in a Howlin’ Wolf tribute band and who also recently passed away. Both the performers and their music had a profound effect on me, both personally and creatively and I’ll be sharing my experiences with you here this week.

I was looking forward to Levon Helm’s show at the Ryman, which would have been this week, more than anything else so far this year. It was, of course, sadly cancelled due to his passing.  I’m in a theater production here in Kentucky so was unable to travel to NY for the memorial service. However, I was performing in a long, black veil that night. By odd coincidence, I play a ghost who wears one.

Before sharing my experiences with you, I wanted to share the song I wrote when I learned that Mr. Helm died. The video was recorded by Alix Mattingly the day of his memorial service:

Whistlin’ Dixie With Levon

Some people do so much good, their light shines like a dawn.

A little part of them always keeps on keepin’ on.

It’s actually a lot like Mr. Dylan’s songs.

And I don’t really know how to feel now that Levon’s gone.

But I know there’s a choir of angels singin’

with the spirit of Jesse James.

And Annie’s takin’ a load off right by the pearly gates.

I’ll bet the first thing Heaven said was, “Why’d you make us wait?”

And Levon’s grinnin’ and sayin’, “Hell, I thought I was late.”

Heaven’s got a brighter angel now that Levon’s there.

And the horns are paradin’, led by Clarke Gayton.

Lonesome Liz is in a long, black veil.

Byron and the rest’ll go to Acapulco when the night winds wail.

There’s a lot more to it than that but I don’t like tellin’ tales.

El Diablo’s still got an accordion but Levon’s gone.

Ain’t it funny how you never quite have enough time

to do all the things you want, funny life can’t be more kind.

But I’ve got a feelin’ everything’s gonna be just fine.

‘Cause Heaven’s got a brighter angel now that Levon’s there.

Some people by the time you finally catch up with them, they’re gone.

Some will do you right and some others might do you wrong.

Best you can hope’s your weight ain’t too heavy and the road, it ain’t too long.

And I don’t really know how to feel now that Levon’s gone.

But Heaven’s got a brighter angel now that Levon’s there.

He’s whistlin’ Old Dixie with the spirit of Jesse James.

Outlaw Magazine’s Cathy Pippen previously recorded 2 of my Levon Helm tributes. I performed ‘The Weight’with Mitchell Plumlee and Colton Steele the night before his death:

…and at an earlier show performed his song, “When I Go Away” with Jack Montgomery. (Jack also wrote an amazing book about Folk Belief, American Shamans):


Stay tuned for my upcoming features on Howlin’ the Blues With Hubert Sumlin, Levon Helm and so much more…

~ Lonesome Liz

Visit Lonesome Liz here: www.lonesomelizpage.blogspot.com

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