With the new documentary Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and the Band now available to stream, Robbie Robertson takes an in-depth look at his time in the Band on a recent episode of our Rolling Stone Music Now podcast. Robertson discusses his fraught relationship with Levon Helm, whether the group’s story was a triumph or tragedy, their work with Bob Dylan, and much more.
According to Robertson, writing songs for the group’s multiple singers was much like writing a musical or casting a film. “I saw it almost in the sense of a theatrical group,” he says. “The way John Ford or Ingmar Bergman used the same people in a lot of their movies… I wrote these songs specifically for those guys. Levon, you know, was my closest brother. And so I was trying so hard. I knew his instrument. I knew his abilities. And I was trying to write songs that were perfect for him to sing. And a couple of times, I might have nailed that.”
To hear the entire interview, press play above or download and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or Spotify.
Download and subscribe to our weekly podcast, Rolling Stone Music Now, hosted by Brian Hiatt, on iTunes or Spotify (or wherever you get your podcasts), and check out two years’ worth of episodes in the archive, including in-depth, career-spanning interviews with Bruce Springsteen, Halsey, Neil Young, the National, Questlove, Julian Casablancas, Sheryl Crow, Johnny Marr, Scott Weiland, Alice Cooper, Fleetwood Mac, Elvis Costello, Donald Fagen, Phil Collins, Alicia Keys, Stephen Malkmus, Sebastian Bach, Tom Petty, Kelly Clarkson, Pete Townshend, Bob Seger, the Zombies, Gary Clark Jr., and many more — plus dozens of episodes featuring genre-spanning discussions, debates, and explainers with Rolling Stone’s critics and reporters. Tune in every Friday at 1 p.m. ET to hear Rolling Stone Music Now broadcast live from SiriusXM’s studios on Volume, channel 106.
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