Song Lyric Sunday: The Band – “Ophelia”

I just wanted to use this week’s theme as an opportunity to share my new-found enthusiasm for The Band. There I go, finger on the pulse as usual – just discovering a group that split up over 40 years ago….

The group started life as The Hawks, before being spotted by Bob Dylan in the mid ’60s and becoming his backing band. Dylan casually referred to them as “the band” and when he moved on to solo projects, they rechristened themselves as The Band.

I’d describe their style as understated, quirky and playful. This contrasts with the rather serious tones of rock music in the late 60s/early 70s, and they were able to find their niche. At first listen they sound a bit “southern rock”, but in fact only 1 of the group was from the Deep South; the other 4 were Canadians – perhaps this crossover is part of their appeal.

The first songs that caught my ear were “Up on Cripple Creek”, “The Shape I’m In”, “Life is a Carnival” and – perhaps their best-known song – “The Weight”, but as I listen more this is beginning to feel like scratching the tip of quite an iceberg. Lots of messing about on Spotify and You Tube to come I think.

After achieving both critical and commercial success between 1968-76, they rather unusually decided to split whilst still at their peak. This at least saved them from going fat and useless I guess, although it seems they hadn’t missed out on some of the more decadent aspects of the rock star lifestyle, and sadly only 2 of the original 5 members are still with us.

The signed off in 1976 with a concert in San Francisco christened “The Last Waltz”, which featured a dazzling list of fellow rock legends as guests and was made into a film by Martin Scorsese. From the film, here’s “Ophelia”:

Boards on the window
Mail by the door
What would anybody leave so quickly for?
Where have you gone?

The old neighborhood just ain’t the same
Nobody knows just what became of
Tell me, what went wrong

Was it something that somebody said?
Mama, I know we broke the rules
Was somebody up against the law?
Honey, you know I’d die for you

Ashes of laughter
The ghost is clear
Why do the best things always disappear
Like Ophelia
Please darken my door

Was it something that somebody said?
Mama, I know we broke the rules
Was somebody up against the law?
Honey, you know I’d die for you

They got your number
Scared and running
But I’m still waiting for the second coming
Of Ophelia
Come back home

(Written by Robbie Robertson)

6 thoughts on “Song Lyric Sunday: The Band – “Ophelia”

  1. Ooooh, I really liked this one. I tend to not listen to a lot of music from the 60s and 70s, but when I hear songs like this, I wonder if I should rethink some of my music choices. Thanks so much for sharing!


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