I'll never forget seeing Rick Danko sing this in The Last Waltz. He could be a goofball and a heartbreaker, sometimes at once.
The Playlist Special: Top Artists Pick Their Personal Top 10
The Band were a profound influence on My Morning Jacket, says frontman James: "We always looked up to them. It's so rare to find a group that followed their impulses and didn't give a fuck about the trends of the day. That really speaks to me."
Listen: Jim James' Top Songs by the Band
1."It Makes No Difference" | The Band, 1978
2."Up On Cripple Creek" | The Band, 1969
Superfunky; you can tell they had a deep love for soul, funk, every kind of music.
3."The Unfaithful Servant" | The Band, 1969
Another of my favorite Danko songs. When I'm in Woodstock, I visit his grave to pay my respects to his massive spirit.
4."Whispering Pines" | The Band, 1969
This is filled with such pain, but it contains that tint of hope.
5."Yazoo Street Scandal ('Basement Tapes' Version)" | The Band, 1975
Psychedelic funk, with Levon Helm just crushing it. The recording is fucking nasty: dark and dirty, and his voice sounds so fucked up.
6."Don't Ya Tell Henry ('Basement Tapes' version)" | The Band, 1975
I saw Levon do this not long ago, and he still had the energy and spirit of a young child.
7."Tears Of Rage" | The Band, 1968
Richard Manuel's vocal here is one of the greatest ever captured. There's something about this that's so pure.
8."Don't Do It ('The Last Waltz' version)" | The Band, 1978
The original is by Marvin Gaye, who's maybe my biggest singing influence, and they give it just as much power as his version, if not more.
9."I Shall Be Released" | The Band, 1968
One of the most important songs ever written, by Dylan or anyone else. I see this version almost like I see Hendrix's version of "All Along the Watchtower" – like Dylan wrote it just for Manuel to sing.
10."The Weight" | The Band, 1968
Back when My Morning Jacket formed, this was one of the first songs we tried, because the harmonies are so great and stacked in such a cool way. But we couldn't do it, couldn't nail 'em. We sang this one with Levon at his house recently, which is pretty fucking crazy.