BY JASON CORLISS
For those of you who follow these things in earnest, and who have either a passing or vested interest, I’m sure you noticed that the South Ward was in its finest form in recent memory during the San Jose game last Saturday. This was no accident. The time had come to get on the same page. In any endeavor, when the forces of history, tradition, innovation and passion get in the same room together, there is always the promise of discord (or, in this case, “dischord”), but also the possibility of alchemic, synthetic harmony. While we’re not there quite yet, the first step is always the most difficult.
We lost a true American treasure this week in Levon Helm, best known as the former drummer and vocalist of The Band. Along with Robbie Robertson, Rick Danko, Richard Manuel and Garth Hudson, The Band reinvented rock and roll music in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, fusing old-time country and Appalachian music with folk, rock, rhythm & blues, and soul, all the while battling one another’s egos, personalities and influences.
Levon was the man who brought The Band together in the first place, and the glue that held it together musically and otherwise (no matter what Robbie Robertson says). His molasses-dipped gravel voice and groundbreaking drumming were the stuff of legend. The two clips above attest to both Levon’s natural gift and his ability to straddle, even transcend genres, keeping his groove over the span of 40+ years. And, if these cats could hang together long enough to make it to (and through) ‘The Last Waltz,’ surely we could figure out a way to get the South Ward in time.
One voice for all
Echoing (echoing) echoing along the hall
Don’t give up on father’s clock
We can talk about it now
In our effort to beat the South Ward into synchronicity, a meeting was held in the week prior to the San Jose game among the voices who call the tunes at the foot of each supporters group on game days (full disclosure: I’m one). The notion that we should all be singing the same proverbial tune (i.e. supporting RBNY) is a given, but the devil is in the downbeat. Figuring out the mix of songs and cutting through 17 years of politics, culture(s) and genre turned out to be easier than anyone had thought possible.
In practice, on game day, the result was also revelation, but only because of the commitment to making it work by the denizens of all three sections. Full credit to each group who trusted the process and brought it hard as hell for 90 minutes. Was this the new & improved, unified, full-throated South Ward? We’ll see. In any event, we’re finding our voice by listening to each other’s, and that’s a start.
Before we start the chorus of kumbaya, though, let’s not confuse unison and unity. The irony of this “oneness” is that it grew out of the three different personalities of the individual groups in the South Ward. It’s both naive and silly to assume that this singular success will somehow translate into a broader confederation of shared, assimilated unity. Life and music don’t generally work that way. We are who we are, and each have the same drive to express our visions and cultivate it among our ranks. However, the best music — the tightest, most charged expressions of emotion — comes out of the crucible of tension and a kinetic, burning desire to create history in the present. The Band (along with countless others) taught us that. Levon would definitely approve.
It’s the last waltz
The last waltz was through
But that don’t mean
That the party is over
While the San Jose game is indeed in the past, we have the ever-present ‘now’ to look forward. Sure, some folks would have you believe that Philly is our biggest “rival”, but this Sunday we will be traveling en-masse to the raccoon infested pile of rubble in DC that is home to our mortal enemy. The party will be in full swing by the time we roll into our nation’s capitol, and we intend to continue it for the 90 minutes we’re in there. I’ll be reporting back Wednesday both on the journey and our reception.
Finally, speaking of Philthy, the bus beckons yet again on May 13th, as we’ll be eschewing our traditional Mother’s Day celebrations and heading south to stick it to the Bimbos. I highly recommend that you GET. ON. THE. BUS. Details will be forthcoming.