Larry Groce Remembers Robbie Robertson

While Robertson never performed on Mountain Stage, his songs and career had were influential to the program and its founder.

Robbie Robertson’s death leaves a big void. As an influence on Mountain Stage, his songs are second only to those of Bob Dylan. Neither man has been a guest on the show, but both are touchstones for the type of music we’ve featured for the past forty years. In the DNA of their songs, you can find Blues, Appalachian Folk, Soul Gospel, Traditional Jazz and Country – the seminal genres of American music.

“The Last Waltz” may have been the symbol of the Band’s end, but for Mountain Stage it was a spiritual Big Bang. Some who were in the concert/movie – Rick, Garth, Levon, Emmylou, Dr. John, Pops, Mavis and Yvonne Staples, Pinetop Perkins, John Simon, Bob Margolin – appeared on the Mountain Stage. All the others, from Joni Mitchell to Neil Young to Van Morrison, Eric Clapton and Lawrence Ferlinghetti influenced who has appeared on the show.

Countries, generations and cultures have anthems meant to inspire them. You know the Mountain Stage theme that opens each show. It tells you what we are. But we share an anthem with millions of others. It starts out, “I pulled into Nazareth, was feelin’ about half past dead…”.

The Band on Mountain Stage, April 14th 1996