"Up on Cripple Creek" and "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" are all-American tunes from the mostly Canadian band, The Band.
The Band and its original lineup stopped touring in 1976 with a Thanksgiving concert in San Francisco that would go down in history as "The Last Waltz."
Legendary musician Robbie Robertson, a founding member of The Band, its lead guitarist and songwriter, will be a special guest Saturday, Nov. 23 in Nashville for a commemoration of The Band's historical farewell concert.
Last September, Robertson, 76, who was born in Toronto, accepted a golden key to his birth city ahead of the premiere of a documentary celebrating his career called "Once Were Brothers."
“It was such a sweet gesture,” Robertson said. “Whenever it's your 'hood, you're home. You kind of feel a little bit of pride with that. It was a very, very nice feeling.”
Robertson spoke to The World’s Marco Werman about his music, his memoir and his new album, "Sinematic."
Robbie Robertson: In some ways, being from Canada, the United States seemed like it was the center of the universe, and Canada wasn't. And so there was always a bit of that. And growing up saying, "One of these days, I'm going to go out in the world and I'm going to write music and I'm going to play music and I'm going to perform everywhere." and most people looked at me like I was just a dreamer, [like] I was just going to get my heartbroken. And on my new album, "Sinematic," there's a song called "Dead End Kid" that completely refers to this period [of time] when people said to me, "That doesn't happen for people like us, and you're going to be very disappointed." I was like, "I can't hear you. I am on a mission."
I do consider myself a storyteller, and I learned that at the Six Nations Indian reserve. I witnessed elders [who] told stories that just went right deep into my soul. I thought, "When I grow up one of these days, I want to be able to do that." Now that I don't have the guys of The Band with me, I have to share stories. When I was working with them, I was really writing songs for them to sing about stories that I wanted to tell. But I was casting them as the singers, as the voices of the story that I wanted to tell.
Being part of this brotherhood with these guys in "The Band," what a special relationship we had. And in this song, "Once Were Brothers," it came out of me because we were working on this documentary, and I was going back and remembering some of the extraordinary experiences that we had together.
Well, this was my son Sebastian's idea. I was just following his lead on this. And then, everybody joined in globally, around the world. And in these times, that's a great feeling. We like the idea of embracing one another and from around the world, being able to join together on this song, I love it.
This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.