In Robbie Robertson's words: "a song for our drummer and singer Levon Helm who had just returned after spending nearly two years away from the music business ... I'd picked up my Martin guitar, looked in the sound hole, saw a label that said Nazareth, Pennsylvania (the town where Martin was based). For some reason, seeing the word Nazareth unlocked a lot of stuff in my head from Nazarin and other film scripts I'd just been reading from a dusty, funky bookshop owned by Fanny Steloff that sold used and new books. Nazarin was a Mexican movie by Spanish writer Bunuel, examining the 'impossibility of sainthood'.
Before we performed with the Staples Singers for The Last Waltz documentary in 1976, Pops asked me, 'Robbie, whatís this song actually about?' I said, 'Pops, you know as well as I do'. He looked at me, laughed and said, 'Go down Moses'.

As we performed, Pops sang by sliding to the notes and his daughtersí voices slid right behind his. That was beautiful. It was like doing Godís work. And maybe thatís what motivated the song in the first place."

 

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The Weight - The Band - January, 1968

Written (mostly) by Robbie Robertson, about Levon Helm's hometown acquaintances e.g. Anna Lee Amsden, "Carmen" and "Crazy Chester" people from Helm's hometown, Turkey Scratch in Arkansas.

Great gospel undertones, song about a traveller, charged by a "Miss Fanny" with "the load", the responsibility, of giving "her regards to everyone".


I pulled into Nazareth, was feelin' about half past dead
I just need some place where I can lay my head
"Hey, mister, can you tell me where a man might find a bed?"
He just grinned and shook my hand, "no" was all he said
 
Take a load off Fanny
Take a load for free
Take a load off Fanny
And (and) (and) you put the load right on me
(You put the load right on me)
 
I picked up my bag, I went lookin' for a place to hide
When I saw Carmen and the Devil walkin' side by side
I said, "Hey, Carmen, come on let's go downtown"
She said, "I gotta go but my friend can stick around"
 
Take a load off Fanny
Take a load for free
Take a load off Fanny
And (and) (and) you put the load right on me
(You put the load right on me)
 
Go down, Miss Moses, there's nothin' you can say
It's just ol' Luke
and Luke's waitin' on the Judgment Day
"Well, Luke, my friend, what about young Anna Lee?"
He said, "Do me a favor, son, won't you stay
and keep Anna Lee company?"
 
Take a load off Fanny
Take a load for free
Take a load off Fanny
And (and) (and) you put the load right on me
(You put the load right on me)
 
Crazy Chester followed me and he caught me in the fog
He said, "I will fix your rack
if you'll take Jack, my dog"
I said, "Wait a minute, Chester,
you know I'm a peaceful man"
He said, "That's okay, boy,
won't you feed him when you can"
 
Yeah, take a load off, Fanny
Take a load for free
Take a load off, Fanny
And (and) (and) you put the load right on me
(You put the load right on me)
 
Catch a cannon ball now
to take me down the line
My bag is sinkin' low and I do believe it's time
To get back to Miss Fanny,
you know she's the only one
Who sent me here with her regards for everyone
 
Take a load off Fanny
Take a load for free
Take a load off Fanny
And (and) (and) you put the load right on me
(You put the load right on me)