With the new documentary Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and the Band now available to stream, Robbie Robertson takes an in-depth look at his time in the Band on a recent episode of our Rolling Stone Music Now podcast. Robertson discusses his fraught relationship with Levon Helm, whether the group’s story was a triumph or tragedy, their work with Bob Dylan, and much more.
According to Robertson, writing songs for the group’s multiple singers was much like writing a musical or casting a film. “I saw it almost in the sense of a theatrical group,” he says. “The way John Ford or Ingmar Bergman used the same people in a lot of their movies… I wrote these songs specifically for those guys. Levon, you know, was my closest brother. And so I was trying so hard. I knew his instrument. I knew his abilities. And I was trying to write songs that were perfect for him to sing. And a couple of times, I might have nailed that.”
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