Thursday, June 3, 2010

For a Song: Go Back to Your Woods

Robbie Robertson: Go Back to Your Woods


Bands, both well known and obscure, break up all the time. Sometimes, the musicians admit to personal difficulties within the band, but just as often, musicians try to paper it over by claiming that there were “artistic differences”. Was this the case? You can tell when the solo albums start to come out. When The Band broke up, and Robbie Robertson went solo, the difference was startling. Where one could claim that The Band was the first Americana band, Robertson’s first solo album was done with producer Daniel Lanois, and seemed, musically, to come from Peter Gabriel territory. It’s a great album, but it was a shock at the time of its release. Four years later, Robertson was once again using the sounds of various musical traditions in the United States, but with the artiness of that first solo album.

The album was Storyville, and Robertson was particularly interested in the musical traditions of New Orleans. Go Back to Your Woods is a stand-out track from that album, and no wonder. The song is a co-write with Robertson and Bruce Hornsby. And what a band! This is basically Robertson and Hornsby with the Meters, plus a couple of Mardi Gras Indian chiefs. This is not the line-up for the rest of the album, and it’s a gutsy move by Robertson that could have failed spectacularly. But Robertson hits it, and this one really cooks.