What the Hell Does that Song Mean

What the Hell Does that Song Mean

The Band played their first solo show — after serving as Bob Dylan’s band — 50 years ago today (April 17th) at Winterland in San Francisco. The song “The Weight” has been recorded by many. It was on the album: Music From Big Pink in 1968. Robbie Robertson got the writing credit, but Levon Helm claimed the entire group contributed. Although it only peaked at number-63 on the Billboard Hot 100, it spawned numerous cover versions. Aretha Franklin’s, with Duane Allman on guitar, was the most successful, reaching number-19 pop and number-three on the soul chart. It was also recorded by Jackie DeShannon, The Supremes and The Temptations and The Staples Singers. Robbie Robertson says that he was surprised at all the versions of “The Weight.”

“Much to my surprise, a lot of people connected to the song that I would have never imagined. All these people were recording this song, like one after the other. It seemed like every week they were sending me a new cover of this song. And I thought, ‘This is completely baffling that people would relate to it in this way.’ And the only person that ever said to me, ‘What the hell does this song mean?’ was Pops Staples.”