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Bruce Springsteen honors Levon Helm with 'The Weight'

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Alex Brandon/AP Images

Bruce Springsteen fans often show up to his concerts with hand-made song-request posters, typically nominating obscure outtake titles that only a diehard would appreciate. But last night in Newark, where Springsteen was wrapping up the first leg of his Wrecking Ball tour, the Boss recognized a request that no one could have predicted. The poster read, “Play 1 for Levon,” and during the encore, Springsteen honored the memory of legendary drummer Levon Helm, who died April 19 at the age of 71 after a long struggle with cancer, with a spontaneous rendition of The Band’s song, “The Weight.”

Though Springsteen slipped in pronouncing Helm’s first name as “Levin,” his words were a noble tribute and the song was the highlight of the night. “One of the greatest voices in country rockabilly and rock and roll. Just staggering — while playing the drums! When I auditioned Max, I actually made him sing,” Springsteen said from the stage. “But Levon had a way of — both his voice and his drumming was so incredibly personal. It had a feeling on the drums, comes out of a certain place in the past, and you can’t replicate it.” Take a listen below.

Read more:

A vintage interview with Levon Helm

Rock legend Levon Helm dies at 71

Remembering Levon Helm: A playlist