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A Dip In The River Of Time And The Last Waltz Redux

Peace At Wanee

Peace At Wanee

The Real Last Waltz
Lake City Florida
Friday, April 20, 12

My Hot Tuna friends and I came to Live Oak, Florida to play the Wanee Festival. We knew that our brother, Levon Helm, was hanging by a thread as we drove down here, and yesterday at 1330, we got the sad news… that Lee was making his journey beyond the stars. I had stumbled on a piece by Mark Salter that just said it so well and I offer a link to his writing here.


There has been so much said about Levon over the past couple of days that there is not much I could add. I do notice that so many (but not all) of us mourners are of a like age. Levon supplied so much to us over the years adding to the soundtrack of our lives that his passing not only reminds us of when we were young, it reminds us that life is indeed a finite journey here on this earth and that we must count our blessings and make sure that we sing loudly each and every day!

Last night at the Hot Tuna show on the Mushroom Stage, we dedicated Rev. Davis’ I Am The Light Of This World, to Lee’s spirit. There were mercurial aspects to Levon’s personality and he could be a rascal too so we followed Light Of This World with Julius Daniel’s 99 Year Blues… also for Lee.

So it goes and the world continues to turn.

Here is our set list from last night:

Hot Tuna 21, 2012
The Electric Trio
Jorma Kaukonen, Jack Casady
Barry Mitterhoff & Skoota Warner
The Mushroom Stage
Live Oak, Florida
April 19, 2012

1. I See The Light
2. Been So Long
3. Can’t Get Satisfied
4. Ode To Billy Dean
5. Children Of Zion
6. Mama Let Me Lay It On You
7. A Little Faster
8. If This Is Love, I Want My Money Back
9. Rock Me Baby
10. Bowlegged Woman
11. I Am The Light Of This World
12. I Am The Light Of this World
13. Mourning Interrupted
14. Hesitation Blues
15. Funky #7
16. Encore: Water Song

Today Jack and I did a great Fur-Peace-Ranch-On-The-Road workshop at the music hall here at Wanee…I had a great Q and A chat with Warren Haynes followed by Mickey Hart’s magic. As we worked through the day, I just had to keep reflecting , as always, on the relentless magic of the passing of time. Yes, it’s time to enjoy the ripples on the river. The time will come when we will say goodbye to it all.

I shall leave this post with a poem a friend sent me some time ago:

Miss Me – But Let Me Go

When I come to the end of the road,
And the sun has set for me
I want no rites in a gloom-filled room,
Why cry for a soul set free?
Miss me a little – but not for too long
And not with your head bowed low,
Remember the love that we once shared,
Miss me – but let me go
For this is a journey that we all must take,
And each must go alone,
It’s all part of God’s master plan,
A step on the road to home.
When you are lonely and sick at heart,
Go to the friends you know,
Bury your sorrow in doing good deeds,
Miss me – but let me go

Me we all be here for some time to come to smell the roses and dance the dance!

  1. Cyndy Consentino
    April 20th, 2012 at 19:27 | #1

    Dear Jorma,
    Well said.
    I will spend the weekend listening to the beautiful
    Music Lee left behind.
    Thanks for a great posting!

  2. chuck newman
    April 20th, 2012 at 21:31 | #2

    While contemplating Big Pink and Dylan and etc. I listened to a live track of “This is my Life” with Jorma, Jack and Marty scorching the sky with their beautiful performance. Perhaps Levon passing is a reminder to us all to cherish each other while we are here.

  3. Jeff Montwicki
    April 21st, 2012 at 07:55 | #3

    God bless you Jorma, you are so kind for thinking of Lee and saying the kind things about him you have for the past few days. The world could use more people like you! Meanwhile, I am gonna play some music myself this weekend. Still trying to figure out Good Shepherd, lol.

    And Chuck is very right; we should cherish each other while we are all still here.

  4. Bob Kozyak
    April 21st, 2012 at 08:31 | #4

    Thanks Jorma, you have a way of lessening the anxiety I have about death.

  5. Richard
    April 21st, 2012 at 11:07 | #5

    Really nice stuff..And while I am here Im going to enjoy this mild spring saturday and listen to a version of Sea Child you did years ago solo,that I recently found.Always nice to be able to listen to these beautys in there raw…they can be so revealing and reach out and touch you…Does it get any better than this?

  6. Kate Sullivan
    April 21st, 2012 at 14:14 | #6

    Beautiful Words Jorma…………..L E V O N…..

  7. Kathy
    April 22nd, 2012 at 15:52 | #7

    Thank you, Jorma. Levon’s passing moved me deeply. I put together a 6 hour playlist of his music – solo as well as classics with the Band. For good measure a couple of tracks from Hot Tuna, your solo work, some Grateful Dead, John Fogerty, Graham Parsons snuck in for the ride as well. Ironically, 99 Years was one of the hitchhikers on the list. Thanks especially for the link to Mark Salter’s article. It was beautiful. Patriotic. Reminded me that music is a force that unites us. Play on, my friend. Kathy

  8. carlo pagliano
    April 22nd, 2012 at 19:49 | #8

    The solemn rite of the Elephants around one of their family that doesn’t get up any more makes reflect.
    Love for Levon Helm kept in our hearts for almost half a century, bloomed in a prairie of comments, over Jorma’s blog, loaded with so much wisdom and respect and brotherhood and projections, like one big heart with many hearts beating in the same direction.
    Levon Helm never went on Italian papers, other than music zines, nevertheless he was silently followed and deeply loved in all these years, and now that he is flyin’ free elsewhere, a nation of unknown people
    rises with any tool to express its unaltered devotion bowin’ with thanks and blessings, sincerely heartfelt.
    We pre summer of love stand an age where the dimension of music inside ourselves has fully acquired the role of soul saver in the sense that all the heavy things in our life are and were better resolved with a tune caught on air or a line written as sharp as a Satori. Now we still are fans going nuts for our heroes, on top we have the consciousness of feeling the same pure things of other unknown brothers scattered all over the world, unite under one free flag beating in the same wind. In times where surfaces tremble like jelly better go down deep in ourselves as scared whales do in the oceans and count our certainties and blessings, and share.
    And since this is what really happens in our hearts and what we do it’s an emanation of what we are, thinking about tomorrow, it’s like being kids full of good hopes that come true every day.
    It’s an achievement now a days. And Levon is one of the great prophets of all this.
    Once again there is no better comfort than Jorma’s blog.
    G-d Bless You Jorma!

  9. johno
    April 23rd, 2012 at 11:44 | #9

    God bless you Levon……Isn’t heaven marvelous! And it goes on for eternity.

  10. johno
    April 23rd, 2012 at 11:49 | #10

    God bless you Levon…….Isn’t heaven marvelous! And it never ends – it goes on for eternity.

  11. Joe Moore
    April 23rd, 2012 at 17:27 | #11

    As always Jorma , so well said ! Thank you and God Bless You !

  12. Gerard Maggio
    April 25th, 2012 at 11:24 | #12


    Beautiful words and remembrance, thanks. God bless Levon,and prayers to his wife and daughter, extended family and friends and fans like me who loved him too.

    You know, even without knowing these musicians, yourself included, the music through the years, and the countless performances witnessed forge a love over time that is real and capable of causing pain and grief like any other love. When Jerry passed in ’95 it might have been the first time I felt that real grief over an artist I’d grown up with passing. Since 1974 I don’t think I’ve gone a year without seeing you perform Jorma. Like so many I was there through all your changes, at least from the audience to the stage. From when you were 34 to now I’ve watched you hone your craft, edging ever closer to perfection. Stay healthy Jorma! Jack too!I don’t want to deal with what it’s gona feel like when you guys are gone! Peace!

  13. Brett
    April 25th, 2012 at 12:15 | #13

    Nice post Jorma. Thanks

    Now picturing Levon joyfully dancing IN that diamond sky

  14. CIndy
    April 25th, 2012 at 14:02 | #14

    Do not stand at my grave and weep
    I am not there. I do not sleep.
    I am a thousand winds that blow.
    I am the diamond glints on snow.
    Thanks Jorma, a perfect post as always. You say what I can only think.
    I too loved the Band , second to Hot Tuna. and Levon’s passing has saddened me.
    and this weekend I came across this poem while reminiscing.
    Thought it too was fitting.

    I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
    I am the gentle autumn rain.
    When you awaken in the morning’s hush
    I am the swift uplifting rush
    Of quiet birds in circled flight.
    I am the soft stars that shine at night.
    Do not stand at my grave and cry;
    I am not there. I did not die.
    Mary Elizabeth Frye

  15. Peter
    April 25th, 2012 at 14:26 | #15

    And then now Chris Etheridge is gone, sad, sad, sad ! But the band in the Sky is just getting better & better!

  16. Tom DeBobes
    April 25th, 2012 at 19:53 | #16

    Jorma….I was saddened to hear of Levon Helm’s passing. For all of us who have listened to his music over the years, and to those to whom he was closest. I loved the poem that was posted as well. None of us is promised tomorrow, so we ought to live every day like it is our last. As Warren Zevon said “Enjoy every sandwich”.

  17. mutt
    April 26th, 2012 at 06:14 | #17

    Excellent poetry find Cindy. One of those ideas that comes to us about the hereafter life is said so well in Verlon Thompson’s “I Will Come Back Again” on the album “Everywhere Yet”. Sam Pacetti does an excellent rendition of it called “The Christians and The Outlaws” on his album 1 X Union with Gabe Valla. Music will take us there on the winds in the kind of flight we will all take after this embryonic journey . . . play on.

    Love and Peace


  18. Angel
    May 1st, 2012 at 12:29 | #18

    I was sitting in the Terrapin Crossroads restaurant Saturday night, at set break, when my phone that was sitting on the table turned itself on and started playing Levon, “When I go Away.” I don’t have that song in my iTunes, it wasn’t cued up on Pandora or anywhere else, and just as quickly as it lit up with Levon’s face and sang a line, it turned back off. “I don’t want no cryin’ only tears of joy”

  19. Gail Gaddy
    May 5th, 2012 at 10:25 | #19

    Thanks for the link, the poems, and your thoughts. As tears fall, I am also in touch with my gratitude. I turn 61 tomorrow (young by my standards), but I have said goodbye to too many. I feel so in tune with your current thoughts on life and you express them beautifully. You were blessed to know Levon personally, and I will always feel blessed by that exuberant smile of his in the last years. I don’t sing well but I sing loudly every day. I will be in Carrboro, NC to see you and the guys in July.

  20. Jack Archer
    May 5th, 2012 at 13:05 | #20

    Gee, Mr. Kaukonen, that’s a wonderful piece by Mark Salter. Has me dabbing a tear away. Thanks so much for linking to it.