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Dirt Farmer


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Audio CD, October 30, 2007
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Biography

Levon Helm was in the right place at the right time. He saw the birth of rock and roll and though he’s too much of a gentleman to say it, his role in helping to keep that rebellious child healthy is more than just instrumental.

On May 26, 1940, Mark Lavon Helm was the second of four children born to Nell and Diamond Helm in Elaine, Arkansas. Diamond was a cotton farmer who ... Read more in Amazon's Levon Helm Store

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 30, 2007)
  • Original Release Date: 2007
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Vanguard Records
  • ASIN: B000VG7M0O
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (150 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,624 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. False Hearted Lover Blues (Traditional)
2. Poor Old Dirt Farmer (Traditional)
3. The Mountain (Steve Earle)
4. Little Birds (Traditional)
5. The Girl I Left Behind (Traditional)
6. Calvary (Byron Isaacs)
7. Anna Lee (Laurelyn Dossett)
8. Got Me A Woman (Paul Kennerley)
9. A Train Robbery (Paul Kennerley)
10. Single Girl, Married Girl (A. P. Carter)
11. The Blind Child (Traditional)
12. Feelin Good (J. B. Lenoir)
13. Wide River To Cross (Buddy Miller, Julie Miller)

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Levon Helm's Dirt Farmer will be released
October 30 by Vanguard Records, his first solo, studio album in 25 years. The organic feel of the sessions hark back to his work with The Band and comes on the heels of a wave of attention for his Midnight Rambles, late night concerts held at Levon Helm Studios in Woodstock, NY.

It's a major landmark on a remarkable journey for Levon Helm. "The last few years have proven to me that we truly live in an age of miracles," writes Levon in the poignant liner notes. After arduous treatments for throat cancer that took away his singing voice and a fire that consumed over eighty percent of his recording studio, Helm was amazed to find both restored.

On Dirt Farmer, Helm's pays tribute to his family, singing traditional songs that he learned growing up in rural Arkansas. He also covers songs by Steve Earle and J.B. Lenoir; full of Dobros, mandolins and acoustic guitars, the album resonates deeply, honoring Levon's roots.

Multi-instrumentalist Larry Campbell (Bob Dylan, Lyle Lovett, Solomon Burke) and Levon's daughter Amy, also a member of Ollabelle, produced and shepherded the project at "The Barn," Levon Helm Studios. Levon himself plays drums, mandolin, and acoustic guitar and provides all lead vocals.

Amazon.com

Levon Helm's early solo albums, made in the 1970s after the Band initially broke up, were hit-and-miss affairs, but his first solo studio release in 25 years represents a rich return to his Southern roots. With co-production and musical support from daughter Amy (of Ollabelle) and multi-instrumentalist Larry Campbell (long a mainstay of Bob Dylan's band), Helm gives organic unity and rough-hewn vitality to a selection of Cajun fiddle waltzes, country blues, hardscrabble folk, and some more contemporary material (from the likes of Steve Earle and Buddy and Julie Miller). Following his recovery from throat cancer, Helm's voice has a slightly different timbre, but his phrasing is unmistakable as the same vocalist who sang "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" and "Rag Mama Rag." With Amy providing harmony and duet vocals and Levon's drumming evoking his signature work with the Band, Helm takes material from a variety of sources and makes it all his own. --Don McLeese

Customer Reviews

This cd, taken as a whole, is one of the best that I have ever listened to.
DDSC
Levon Helm's wonderful voice is on full display on this great collection of old and timeless songs.
Kay Cordtz (Roybal)
This music would have been good fifty years ago, and will be good fifty years from now.
John Reynolds

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

80 of 83 people found the following review helpful By John Reynolds on November 1, 2007
Format: Audio CD
Levon Helm, the voice behind 'The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down' and 'The Weight,' is in fine form here. This music would have been good fifty years ago, and will be good fifty years from now. Levon's voice is perfect for these songs about life's sorrows and joys, full of perseverance and hope. The songs are real beauties with excellent traditional arrangements. I am a long-time fan of traditional folk, bluegrass, and blues music. What I liked best about this CD is that it is fresh, making these tunes vibrant and not museum pieces. Bravo!
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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Flight Risk (The Gypsy Moth) VINE VOICE on November 27, 2007
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
If you loved The Band way back when, then you will love this recording. There were those who considered Robbie Robertson the quintessence of The Band, but I always connected this voice with the greater output of the music from The Band - and, thirty years on...after winning a war with cancer...Levon Helm's raw, wide-open sound has not dissipated all that much.

This is real mountain music, presented in the manner it was meant to be - oral tradition through song. It's not possible for me to determine which songs are relatively new and which are old, old stories derivative of Celtic tradition, brought to the mountains generations ago from Scotland and Ireland. The yearning, sorrow, and loss of some of the songs is perfectly projected in Mr Helm's evocative country voice - False Hearted Lover Blues, typical of the mountain songs I learned as a child, with the title of the song being all you need to know; Anna Lee, about a young mother cut down heartbreakingly early. There are humourous songs as well, like Got Me a Woman, with the man in the song describing a woman perhaps not what you'd call a looker but high in character that just knocks his socks off; Single Girl, Married Girl, about the things that make these two so diametrically opposed. There's even a song about Frank and Jesse James (A Train Robbery). Some of the songs have a beat reminiscent of music from The Band; I heard shadows of "Ophelia" in one piece, and nuances of other songs, but it is clear here that this album is pure tradition, and that Mr Helm is very much enjoying himself in presenting to us the music he learned as a child.

After his successful fending off of a deadly disease that by all accounts should have robbed us of his characteristic howl, it is a wonder and a blessing that this album got to be made.
Read more ›
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Mason on November 1, 2007
Format: Audio CD
Having been a fan of Levon's since the days of Ronnie Hawkins and The Hawks and having just been to one of his Rambles, I couldn't wait for the release of Dirt Farmer.
I've been listening to this CD almost non stop since I got it and I'm absolutely in love with it. With the help of daughter Amy Helm (vocalist with Ollabelle)and the incredible Larry Campell on guitar and fiddle, Dirt Farmer is the Real Deal. This is what music should be. Emotional, heartfelt and timeless. Dirt Farmer is a masterpiece,the work of a true musician.
The Weight has paid off
Jeff
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Rick S. on November 5, 2007
Format: Audio CD
"Dirt Farmer" is well worth the wait since Levon Helm's last solo CD many years ago. If you're a fan of The Band or country roots music this one's for you. Levon's Arkansas drawl is better than ever following throat cancer surgery in 1999. His voice is bolstered by the heavenly harmonies of his daughter Amy Helm, Co-Producer, and Teresa Williams, wife of the other Co-Producer- Larry Campbell. Larry's virtuoso musicianship (fiddles, guitars, mandolin and dulcimer) is the icing on this cake.
Amy suggested to her Dad that they build this CD around the three traditional songs Levon's parents taught him when he was a child: "Little Birds," "The Girl I Left Behind"(one of my favorites), and "Blind Girl". "Single Girl, Married Girl" is another traditional song (by A.P. Carter, and one of Levon's and my favorites). The title cut is another traditional song and features the funniest line. Following a tractor accident, "now his head, shaped like a tread, but he ain't quite dead."
Levon taps some great songwriters here. Steve Earle contributes "The Mountain" with great harmonies by Buddy Miller and Julie Miller. Paul Kennerley contributes "A Train Robbery" and "Got Me A Woman" (another favorite, and a very funny lyric). Buddy Miller and Julie Miller's "Wide River To Cross" is Levon's masterpiece here, his greatest and most soulful vocal to date: "I'm only half-way home..." Levon is fully back and we're the thankful ones.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By James Gibson on February 11, 2009
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Levon Helm brings it home with this great new collection. Each song starts off as a seed and starts to grow and gets nurtured and before your very ears turns into a solid oak tree. In todays world where musicians depend on electronics,Levon brings back basic skills like playing real instruments. How refreshing to hear 3 part harmony over just a fiddle. Wow The placement of Levons snare drum in a waltz will set the standard for years to come. Real instruments, real songs and real people, that's bringing music back home.
JG
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Observer One on March 20, 2009
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I grew up in rural Missouri hating Bluegrass with a passion. Then, too many years later, driving home exhausted from the pain in my California Inner City counseling work I heard Levon Helm and my hair stood up. Tears wet my eyes. So, here's a drummer from The Band, who had surgery for throat Cancer and sings like an ancient wanderer on the Steppes. His voice cries and rises and wails like any good Chinese or Native American singer. Remarkable. And the songs--oh Mercy, the songs! Stories of heart break, and courage-- songs as old as our country like "Blind Boy" and "Anna Lee". He sings blues like "Feeling Good". "Poor Old Dirt Farmer" is the story of our farmers in the Midwest, in the South, and, change the crop, you've got my husband's farm. (A BIG Corporation has my husband's farm). This is one of the best CDs I've ever encountered. Moving, inspiring, gut-wrenching, true. Rough, like life, is his voice. Gentle and loving like the best man is his choice of cuts. This is as good as it gets, doing what music is meant to do: Move us.
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