'It lives in me': Robbie Robertson on his Indigenous roots and why he left The Band

From CBC - October 11, 2017

Celebrated Indigenous musician and songwriter Robbie Robertson says that memories of childhood days spent at the Six Nations of the Grand River reserve still permeate all ofhis art, and that he walked away from one of the most legendary rock bands of all time because he feared for his bandmates' lives.

"It lives in me," Robertson said Wednesday of his time spent with family on Canada's largest reserve in Ohsweken, Ont.

The erudite guitarist was abouteight years old when, on a trip with his mom to see relatives, it struck him that "everybody there could play or sing or dance or do something with music," he told CBC's Metro Morning.

Robertson recalledmemories that first sparked his love affair with the guitar.

"To see somebody sitting beside you in a chair and hear their fingers moving on the instrument, and hear them breathing when they were singing, all of that, it gave me chills," he explained.

Robertson will be given a lifetime achievement award fromSix Nations of the Grand River on Oct. 14. It comes on the heels of the release of his Nov. 2016 memoirTestimony a deep dive into a fascinating and at times painful lifein paperback.

In his book, Robertson praises his fellow musiciansin The Bandall of them bornand raised in Southern Ontario except LevonHelm, who hailed from Arkansas.

It was a group defined by its signature take on folk rock and the 1978 Martin Scorcese-directed concert filmThe Last Waltz, considered by some to be the greatest movie ever made in the genre.

In particular, Robertson paints a favourable portrait of his relationship with drummer and singer Helm, who died of throat cancer in 2012. The two had one of the notorious feuds in an industry chock full of them, one that Helm reportedly carried to his grave.

At the core of their fractured friendship were disputes over writing credits for songs that Robertson has previously said were written almost entirely by him. Helm contested that version of events.

'I was afraid'


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