All throughout the Grammys’ tribute to late, great Band drummer Levon Helm, we couldn’t help thinking of that SNL sketch from a few years back, all about how conducive “The Weight” is to being sung along to by a gigantic group of drunken idiots. Now, we’re not saying that any of the musicians up on stage Sunday night playing the song in tribute to late Band drummer Levon Helm were inebriated per se (although Marcus Mumford seemed to have indulged in a bit of the tipple when he accepted the Album of the Year), just that had any of them been drunk, we would have been completely incapable of telling the difference. The performance was a slogging, plodding mess—and we loved every second of it.
In a way, “The Weight” is a perfect song for the Grammys’ favored method of paying tribute to a fallen artist, which is to assemble as large a group of artists as possible and have them trade off verses on one of the departed’s most famous songs. Its verses are all the same general length, and none of them goes anywhere the others don’t, so no egos will be damaged in the part assignments. And then there’s the chorus, which essentially forces everyone involved to shout it in out a joyous communal singalong. So yes, by the time Elton John, Zac Brown, Mavis Staples, Mumford and Sons and Brittany Howard of the Alabama Shakes had all gotten through their verses it felt as if the song had been going on for half an hour, but man, was it worth it for that chorus.
POPDUST SAYS: 4.0/5