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The Band — Chest Fever
Album: Music From Big Pink
Avg rating:
7.4

Your rating:
Total ratings: 1374









Released: 1968
Length: 5:04
Plays (last 30 days): 0
I know she's a tracker, any scarlet would back her
They say she's a chooser, but I just can't refuse her
She was just there, but then she can't be here no more
And as my mind unweaves, I feel the freeze down in my knees
But just before she leaves, she receives

She's been down in the dunes and she's dealt with the goons
Now she drinks from the bitter cup, I'm trying to get her to give it up
She was just here, I fear she can't be here no more
And as my mind unweaves, I feel the freeze down in my knees
But just before she leaves, she receives

It's long, long when she's gone, I get weary holding on
Now I'm coldly fading fast, I don't think I'm gonna last
Very much longer

"She's stoned" said the Swede, and the moon calf agreed
I'm like a viper in shock with my eyes in the clock
She was just there somewhere and here I am again
And as my mind unweaves, I feel the freeze down in my knees
But just before she leaves, she receives
Comments (351)add comment
BEST Key entry ever!
 Bleyfusz wrote:
Who said the best bass is the one you don't hear?

 
I don't know, but he obviously never listened to Primus.
The contrast between the regal keyboard intro and the sloppy drunk guy vocals has always amused me.  
Freaked me out as a kid, was a party staple in college days, and still thrills me today...a killer group of astoundingly talented musicians!
Pure perfection. 
One of the few intros that stop you in your tracks.
 Bleyfusz wrote:
Who said the best bass is the one you don't hear?

 
Interesting perception. Have to think about that one. Analagous: harpsichords have no dynamics, it's a plucked string so it is or it isn't, can't be plucked louder or softer, so music of that era has to create the sense of dynamics other ways. Listen to some Scarlatti and it's mind-boggling how he pulls this off. Maybe a parallel there. Or not.
The organ intro is the best part. Then the vocals get tediously repetitive — or maybe it's repetitively tedious. The drums and organ periodically try to redeem things. It's a draw, in the end.
pretty good-6 wish you could give half increments im just never gonna give stoner 70s stuff anything above a 7 and most are defined by the pretty good rank
Darn! Missed it!
Three Dog Night did a cover of this.
Check it out for some good harmonies.
 
Who said the best bass is the one you don't hear?
Channeling Blind Faith before Blind Faith?
 kingart wrote:
I always liked the music, particularly the chorus organ bridge. The vocals, however, sound like a couple of unhappy, wet cats, and after my several listens to this way back in its heyday, I opted for what was then the equivalent of psd.
 

 
in some of the Band's songs the singing sounds like they are in extreme physical pain
 Relayer wrote:
I am not a big fan of The Band, but this song I always loved.  Maybe because I am a prog rock guy, and this song has some distant hints of prog (and less of southern music).

 
That's because of Garth!

Track down some of his solo stuff, and it's very prog, but also ambient. You could do worse.
I always liked the music, particularly the chorus organ bridge. The vocals, however, sound like a couple of unhappy, wet cats, and after my several listens to this way back in its heyday, I opted for what was then the equivalent of psd.
 
 westslope wrote:
In the interests of fairness, I would like to state that Canadian or Canadian-origin bands are just as barfable as the rest. 
 
Well, Rush certainly is.  ; )
 On_The_Beach wrote:

Levon's from the south. Pretty sure the rest are all from Canada, which is kinda the opposite of South.
Barf away if you must.

 
In the interests of fairness, I would like to state that Canadian or Canadian-origin bands are just as barfable as the rest.  
 Stephen_Phillips wrote:

i agree - the intro could almost be the inspiration of a Deep Purple song...

 
Good call.  Also agree with Relayer (as is more often than not the case).  
 Relayer wrote:
I am not a big fan of The Band, but this song I always loved.  Maybe because I am a prog rock guy, and this song has some distant hints of prog (and less of southern music).

 
i agree - the intro could almost be the inspiration of a Deep Purple song...
I am not a big fan of The Band, but this song I always loved.  Maybe because I am a prog rock guy, and this song has some distant hints of prog (and less of southern music).
Always turn volume up when this starts. Timeless.
 clickfaster wrote:
Wow, thought this was Deep Purple with that intro.

 
Hah, me also.
Wow, thought this was Deep Purple with that intro.
What an organ intro! Back in the day when it *really* was an organ, no fancy-schmancy computer synth techno stuff used!
Unpolished, surreal dark country harmonies, psychedelic blue collar perfection, almost a dirge ... and I'm hearing less Robertson influence and more from the other Band members.  Nice! 
"I know  this is Blasphemy to Band fans, but I like the Three Dog Night cover better (great vocal harmonies)."

This song with great vocal harmonies?  Or even actual singers?  I don't know about blaphemy but I sure have a hard time imagining it. This song is all about contrasts to me.  A great organ fanfare followed by the earthy, instrumentation .  A great smooth foundation riff punctuated by a wee-hours of the morning bar room sing along of equally incoherent lyrics.  Do you really want to mess with that perfection?

OK, just checked out the 3DN version, thanks to You Tube,  and boy that does that version not work for me!!
 idavido wrote:
I know  this is Blasphemy to Band fans, but I like the Three Dog Night cover better (great vocal harmonies).

 
The Band is my very favorite group from North America.  So I am a fan.
I also love the Three Dog Night Cover........no blasphemy as far as I am concerned. 
yeah baby....late 60s groovin' {#Bananapiano}
 Sweet_Virginia wrote:
The more I listen to these guys, the more I appreciate them. They have that deliciously tight looseness that you see in a bunch of great bands. I want to go out with Cripple Creak as background music. 

 
"Deliciously tight looseness" sums their style up perfectly.
 helgigermany wrote:
As much as i love the band, this is not their best song.

 
It's still pretty great, though.
As much as i love the band, this is not their best song.
 paisleydancer66 wrote:
as much as I love southern rock, I hate the Band, barf
 
Levon's from the south. Pretty sure the rest are all from Canada, which is kinda the opposite of South.
Barf away if you must.
 izycrzy wrote:
 HERE HERE
as much as I love southern rock, I hate the Band, barf
 

 
well, Big Pink is in Saugerties NY. The Catskills, man. Like, Jewish comedians and Hunter mountain. Oh and that little weekend back in the sixties.

so, I dunno if they are a southern band.

I wonder whose chest? 



 


 paisleydancer66 wrote:
as much as I love southern rock, I hate the Band, barf
 

 
Never thought The Band was "southern rock". Robertson's Canadian. They backed Dylan. Not really classifiable by genre, only by era. But whatev's. Your taste is lacking.
I like the description earlier in the thread where Robbie Robertson said the lyrics were just made up when recording the song. Makes sense as they are pretty idiotic, but who cares with that incredible organ hook? Maybe after recording they thought they might never get such a great sound and left it as is, words be damned. They knew their fan base (me included) and most never read the lyrics (thanks for that button, Bill). Love it!
The more I listen to these guys, the more I appreciate them. They have that deliciously tight looseness that you see in a bunch of great bands. I want to go out with Cripple Creak as background music. 
 well lets see avg rating 7.5 out of 956 hmm guess you are in the minority and boy what insight you provided
paisleydancer66 wrote:
as much as I love southern rock, I hate the Band, barf and boy what insight you provided
 

 



 HERE HERE
as much as I love southern rock, I hate the Band, barf
 

 



Thought first it was steve winwood. Nice song!
as much as I love southern rock, I hate the Band, barf
 
I Love it when you do that!!
I know cheese and crackers
I've died and gone to heaven with this set. Rock on!
We must be at the organ medley hour.
now THAT is a segue...
 idavido wrote:
I know  this is Blasphemy to Band fans, but I like the Three Dog Night cover better (great vocal harmonies).

 
Not only to Band fans.
Great transition from the organ piece from Bach!
nice "eclectic" seque from Bach...
 ziakut wrote:
Too bad the drummer had too much Nyquil the night before this recording. He drags the beat in a big, bold way.

 
{#Ass}{#Nyah}{#Ass}
Too bad the drummer had too much Nyquil the night before this recording. He drags the beat in a big, bold way.
 Dahlia_Gumbo wrote:
Oh, nice segue from Bach.
{#Clap}

 

Now if we could follow this with "Your Time is Going to Come"... that would be bliss.
Despite knowing he had absolutely zero to do with this song I'm still hearing Stevie Winwood for some reason.
That INCREDIBLE BEGINNING always makes me reach for two things: one is the Volume; the other is a certain state of mind...killer jam!
Ah, memories of unbridled youth, set to sonic landscapes such as this...  yearning to attend a church that played an organ like this...
One of my favorite segues here ever, Bach to this.

Glad I caught it this time around.
Tocatta in D Minor, then this. Cool.
 Grayson wrote:
One of the stupidest rocks songs ever.

 
Reminds me of misspent college evenings at Duffy's Tavern playing shuffleboard when I should have been studying, so there's that yin-yang deal going on: kind of like the memories it conjures but, should I like it so much otherwise—doubtful.
One of the stupidest rocks songs ever.
 idavido wrote:
I know  this is Blasphemy to Band fans, but I like the Three Dog Night cover better (great vocal harmonies).
 
Oh shut up


I know  this is Blasphemy to Band fans, but I like the Three Dog Night cover better (great vocal harmonies).

RIP Levon + Rick

The greatest rhythm section ever.


Tired oldies.
never heared this before:nice!
 Dahlia_Gumbo wrote:
Oh, nice segue from Bach.
{#Clap}
 



..second this emotion..Bill pulled that off today too..smooth gear-shift..
this song exemplifies how this is a fine pec of musicians  {#Clap}
 kjf06 wrote:
I hate to say. But the Three Dog Night version is pretty darn good!
 
+1
definitely my favorite song by the Band...
Oh, nice segue from Bach.
{#Clap}
Ahh the Band.  I remember when I was across the great divide, up on cripple creek with my wheels on fire on the night they dragged old dixie down.
I hate to say. But the Three Dog Night version is pretty darn good!
 Mikey1 wrote:
Clever segue from Bach,  Toccata in D minor. Love it.
 
A keeper !
Better than Jimi or copycat?
No, it's Richard.

RIP to them both.

 
GeneP59 wrote:

Levon!  {#Cheers}
 


Weird experience: I have "Chest Fever" intro as my phone's ringtone for my wife. So, I'm plugging away at work with earbud's in just now listening to RP just now, when this song came on. Naturally, I grabbed my cell and couldn't understand why her name wasn't showing up in the incoming call display!?!

Needless to say, I love this tune.{#Confused} 
 Mikey1 wrote:
Clever segue from Bach,  Toccata in D minor. Love it.
 

I can see why after looking at the wiki below:

The introduction is based on Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor. In live performances, this solo evolved into an improvisation drawing from numerous musical styles and lasting several minutes.

good stuff...
Nice Bill. J.S.Bach to the Band...seamless. Great organ work.
 neuticle wrote:
That was a sweet mix The Bach to The  Band..seemless
 
Hear! Hear!  The DJ rocks!

Ode to Bach?

 


Clever segue from Bach,  Toccata in D minor. Love it.
Nice follow up to Toccata
Goin to church with The Band! Love that gigantic synth boom-start!
 railroadwail wrote:

Levon!

 
amen!! love it!

Had I had the chance to own this album in 68, I had most

likely liked it and would do so today. Without this history

it's kind hard to be enthusiastic. Still I can feel the spirit of

the late 60's. Likable, after all!


 Steve wrote:

Take a few minutes and read this. Your perspective might change.
 
I read the piece - an appreciation of Levon Helm. Don't get me wrong - I like "The Band," and enjoyed "The Last Waltz" immensely. It's this particular "song" I really dislike. With all due respect.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chest_Fever

"Chest Fever" is a song recorded by The Band on its 1968 debut, Music from Big Pink. It is, according to Peter Viney, a historian of the group, “the Big Pink track that has appeared on most subsequent live albums and compilations,” second only to The Weight.<1> The music for the piece was written by Robbie Robertson, guitarist and vocalist. Total authorship is typically credited solely to Robertson, although the lyrics, according to Levon Helm, were originally improvised by Levon Helm and Richard Manuel, telling the story of a man who becomes sick when he is spurned by the woman he loves.

Robertson has since said the lyrics were nonsensical, used only while the instrumental tracks were recorded. "I'm not sure that I know the words to 'Chest Fever'; I'm not even so sure there are words to 'Chest Fever'." He has also stated the entirety of the song does not make sense.

At the Woodstock Festival in 1969, The Band performed on the final day, between Ten Years After and Blood, Sweat, and Tears. They opened the set with "Chest Fever".

The song featured a dramatic solo organ intro played by Garth Hudson. The introduction is based on Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor. In live performances, this solo evolved into an improvisation drawing from numerous musical styles and lasting several minutes. "When Levon Helm has complained about the share out of royalties at this period, this is the song he quotes," states Viney. "His theme is that Garth's contribution was always grossly under-estimated and under-credited. As he says, 'what do you remember about 'Chest Fever' - the lyrics or the organ part?'"

Viney notes that, despite the death of Richard Manuel later line ups of The Band continued to perform "Chest Fever" with Helm singing lead vocals. It "rapidly became an on-stage showpiece for Garth's organ", and as such it was an essential song. The intro was a improvisation piece called "The Genetic Method".

He says the definitive recordings of the song can be found on "Live in Washington," (sic) an Italian bootleg of the group’s 1976 King Biscuit Flower Hour performance, or the version on The Complete Last Waltz.

The song has been covered numerous times by bands including Three Dog Night and, most recently, the rootsy jam bands Widespread Panic and Tishamingo. It has also been covered by John Mayer during his Battle Studies tour.

In a review of Endless Highway: The Music of the Band, David Hyland noted that "noodlers Widespread Panic transform 'Chest Fever' into how it should have sounded at 'The Last Waltz' with full horn section accompaniment if the Band hadn't played their farewell gig like they were coked out of their minds.


Levon!


 Algis wrote:
Sorry, this is terrible!
After Bach and Biggs (melodramatic but good), it was painful to hear this distorted-sounding organ-like noise.
 
Take a few minutes and read this. Your perspective might change.
Sorry, this is terrible!
After Bach and Biggs (melodramatic but good), it was painful to hear this distorted-sounding organ-like noise.

Levon!  {#Cheers}
R.I.P. Levon
 SinisterDexter wrote:
Release date: 2000? {#Stupid}
 
re-release date....upsampled, etc
 dedawson wrote:
Had to give it a 2 to balance all the unwarranted 8s, 9s,  and 10s.  Three Dog Night's version was much better.

 
Too bad there's not an 11, which I would do to balance.
Another cool track by the Band.  Bless that funky pink house of theirs - seems to have been a bloody inspirational place.
 gypsyman wrote:

Also sounds like Deep Purple stole a riff or two.

 
I don't really hear any riffs that may have been "stolen" by Deep Purple.  There are obvious similarities since Jon Lord used a Hammond organ - as did Garth Hudson on this tune.

 neuticle wrote:
That was a sweet mix The Bach to The  Band..seemless
 
I'll go on this one. Lloyd Cole->Bach->The Band? Fortunately, seamless transitions like this one were very rare on RP so far.


This song in particular is not my thing...too much of this kind of stuff on RP makes me turn the channel.
That was a sweet mix The Bach to The  Band..seemless
Bach to the Band organs.Sweet!!!!!!!!!
This song's a 5 for me by itself; a 7 in the mix with Bach. Now, how to get them to pair in iTunes...
Garth Hudson, there is no substitute!
Never has the "godlike" rating seemed more appropriate.
 ziakut wrote:
Segway of the year....Bill does it again. Toccata in D minor to this tune was absolutely brilliant. Just unbelievably great!!!!!!
 

No matter how you spelled it, your comment is spot on{#Clap}
So bland that this album singlehandedly changed the way top songwritersw and musicians saw the way ahead for music at that time—from Eric to Elton. Check out the attendees at The Last Waltz.

 
Papernapkin wrote:
The Bland
 

 Papernapkin wrote:
The Bland
 
clever . . . but inaccurate.
Dayummmmm, Bill!
 ziakut wrote:
Segway of the year....Bill does it again. Toccata in D minor to this tune was absolutely brilliant. Just unbelievably great!!!!!!
 
Segue?

 marrdcheez wrote:
Does this song make anyone else want to hear Three Dog Night's version? Or am I the only one?

All of a sudden, it's 1973 again.
 
Three Dog Night's version was the first one I ever heard. Weird and controversial as this sounds, I like theirs better. But then, if I don't get some flack from the hard-cores, what's the point?

Also sounds like Deep Purple stole a riff or two.

Love the crunchy Hammond sound.
Does this song make anyone else want to hear Three Dog Night's version? Or am I the only one?

All of a sudden, it's 1973 again.
Heavy man, heavy attitude, heavy groove, something heav—enly.

 Papernapkin wrote:
The Bland
  Couldn't have chosen a more fitting comment.


The Bland
Now that's some awesome organ.

BTW, is that cover art by Bob Dylan?

I thought this was B.O.C. at first! 
 ziakut wrote:
Segway of the year....Bill does it again. Toccata in D minor to this tune was absolutely brilliant. Just unbelievably great!!!!!!
 
Or segue of the year...
That beginning, the Hammond Organ, reminds me sooo much of Deep Purple.  {#Dancingbanana_2}
Release date: 2000? {#Stupid}
 ziakut wrote:
Segway of the year....Bill does it again. Toccata in D minor to this tune was absolutely brilliant. Just unbelievably great!!!!!!
 
I have to second that!

Go Garth!