Fame is fleeting. More often, it is completely absent. This is especially true of my family. It is likely true of most of your families as well. When presented with such dearth of familial fame, it is not uncommon to bask in the secondary glow exuding from those around us who have been blessed with famous relatives. There are two such beacons of ancillary fame in my life.
As a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame and one of the greatest Toronto Maple Leafs of all time, Darryl Sittler is easily the biggest celebrity from my hometown. My mother went to school with him and there’s a great Father – Son story about the first time I met him in person. I should write that up sometime. More to the point, he is the uncle of one of my childhood best friends. That’s not exactly the type of factoid that will earn me a spot on a reality television show but it makes for suitably impressive name-dropping at the bar.
An even more impressive example, depending on your recreational preferences, is the friends of mine from high school whose uncle happens to be Richard Manuel of The Band. You may have heard of them. They’re kind of a big deal in music circles. The Band was hardly unknown to me in my teens but I’ll readily admit to delving deeper into their musical repertoire thanks to my friends’ ties to one of The Band’s key members. My insatiable, seemingly unending, crush on one of the two friends (sisters) likely contributed too. Hey, people have done far stupider things at the beckoning of the heart.
Another high school friend would even go so far as to write and produce an actual play on the life of Richard Manuel. That’s an impressive artistic undertaking that otherwise likely wouldn’t have happened had it not been for the secondary glow of fame. It’s also a damn great idea that I should have tried 30 years ago!
The Band was an incredible, uh, band. What started for me as a simple familiarity with and appreciation for “The Weight” became admiration of an entire suite of music that rivals the greatest in rock history. There’s a subtle conceit in calling yourselves The Band. You can’t pull that off if you’re just another one hit wonder relegated to compilation albums and theme nights at parties. The Band unquestionably earned their name. They were fantastic song-writers and incredible live performers; absolute legends.
So to kick off the weekend, I’m going to dig a bit beyond the stuff you’ll typically hear on Classic Rock radio stations and share with you one of my favourite song from The Band. It’s one I discovered later on after picking up a cheap “best of” cassette in a discount bin somewhere. This is “Ophelia” from the 1975 album by The Band entitled Northern Lights – Southern Cross.
The Last Waltz Version: