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The Weight by The Band

Album: Music From Big PinkReleased: 1968Charted:
  • I pulled into Nazareth, was feeling 'bout half past dead
    I just need some place where I can lay my head
    Hey, mister, can you tell me, where a man might find a bed?
    He just grinned and shook my hand, "No" was all he said.

    Take a load off Fanny, take a load for free
    Take a load off Fanny, and you put the load right on me

    I picked up my bags, I went looking for a place to hide
    When I saw old Carmen and the Devil, walking side by side
    I said, "Hey, Carmen, c'mon, let's go downtown"
    She said, "I gotta go, but my friend can stick around"


    Go down, Miss Moses, ain't nothin' you can say
    It's just old Luke, and Luke's waiting on the judgment day
    Well, Luke, my friend, what about young Annalee
    He said, "Do me a favor, son, won't you stay and keep Annalee company"


    Crazy Chester followed me, and he caught me in the fog
    Said, "I will fix your rag, if you'll take Jack, my dog"
    I said, "Wait a minute Chester, you know, I'm a peaceful man"
    He said, "That's okay, boy, won't you feed him when you can"


    Catch the cannonball, now to take me down the line
    My bag is sinking low, and I do believe it's time
    To get back to Miss Fanny, you know she's the only one
    Who sent me here, with her regards for everyone

    [Chorus]Writer/s: ROBBIE ROBERTSON
    Publisher: EMI Music Publishing, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
    Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind
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Comments: 86

I meant to add that these guys called themselves Pink Floyd, but as far as I know there was no connection with the Big Pink.Floris - Uk
I made a scratch copy of a tape brought back from the US by some guys and a designer friend living in our flat upstairs in South Kensington, London UK back in the early summer of 1968 and this great song has been with me ever since. I take the lyrics as a straight description of fact and geography but do read whatever you like into it as it is beautifully lyrical and powerfully performed an all great art invites one to do. I am moved to comment as I have just came across what must be one Levon Holme's last public performances of the song - on which it appears that he can no longer sing -with friends. Moving and joyful. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3EkrNSC3t1QFloris - Uk
I thought I'd add that in the biblical books of Luke and Matthew, Jesus said "Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head." "Son of Man" was an expression he used to refer to himself.Josh - Usa
On February 15th 1969, at a local club in Fort Myers, Florida a hairdresser named Vickie Jones was arrested for impersonating Aretha Franklin during a concert. According many web sites Ms. Jone's performance was so good, that not one patron asked for a refund...
And the very next day on February 16th, Aretha's covered version of "The Weight" entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #52; four weeks later on March 16th it would peak at #19 {for 1 week} and it stayed on the chart for 7 weeks...
It reached #3 on Billboard's R&B Singles chart...
One month later on March 9th "The Weight's" B-side, a cover of the Miracles' "Tracks of My Tears", debut on the Top 100 for a six week stay, peaking at #71 {for 2 weeks} on March 30th, 1969...
Aretha Louise Franklin will celebrate her 74th birthday come next month on March 25th {2016}.
Barry - Sauquoit, Ny
Her name is Fannie, not Annie.George - Vancouver, Canada
On September 7th 1969, "The Weight" by the Supremes and the Temptations entered the Hot Top 100 chart at position #69; and on September 21st, 1969 it peaked at #46 {for 1 week} and spent 5 weeks on the Top 100...
It reached #33 on Billboard's R&B Singles chart...
The pairing of the two super groups also produced two more Top 100 records; "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me" {#2 for 2 weeks in early 1969} and "I'll Try Something New" {#25 for 2 weeks in 1969}..
The two weeks that "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me" was at #2, the #1 record for both those weeks was by fellow label mate, Marvin Gaye, with "I Heard It Through The Grapevine."
Barry - Sauquoit, Ny
On August 25th 1968, "The Weight" by the Band entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 at position #84; the week below Jackie DeShannon's covered version debut on the chart at #100...
And on September 22nd, 1968 Ms. DeShannon peaked at #55 and the Band was at #63, the following week she remained at #55 and the Band fell to #66...
Jackie spent 8 total weeks on the Top 100 while the Band stayed for 7 weeks.
Barry - Sauquoit, Ny
It's so funny how time changes your views. I used to HATE this song with a passion but now I love it. I think it's a great song. Lots of enduring qualities.Susan - Airdrie, Ab
Did anyone ever ask Aretha Franklin what the lyrics mean? Surely she wouldn't have just performed a song without understanding what she was singing.Sandy - Enterprise, Fl
Great work going on here. I just love it. Hell, we might even squeeze all this together into a real legend!
The Weight is that one song eternal that goes off in everyone's head and leaves 'em sayin':
Wait a minute, I know that tune, did… er…er…er Dylan or one of them R&B gals do it.
It's a goodtime song, let it rest.

Thx Spotty for the history.
Barry K - Beulah, Al
So..Its not about a gay experience in Nazareth Pa.?Reidh - Arizona, Az
Just a little background on the characters origins in this song. Ricky Danko grew up near Simcoe Ontario. A neighbour of his was Chester, and when Ricky was old enough worked on the tobacco farm that Chester owned. Chester did indeed have a dog named Jack and a horse named Fanny. Fanny was a workhorse on the tobacco farm. The assumption is that Ricky wanted to unfurrow Fanny (take the load off Fanny). Now whether he actually wanted to ride Fanny or just felt bad that Fanny had to work hard. Knowing Chester, I would have expected that Fanny was worked pretty hard. Interestingly, Jack was Chester's favourite dog/animal in his life. Not sure what exactly the lyrics mean about Jack in the story, but that is exactly the way crazy Chester talked. He very often led his sentences with "Boy...". Some of the other characters were part of Chester's family (Luke, Emily, Carmen...). How do I know all of this, my wife is one of Chester's grandaughtereds. The whole story of the song I think will always be a mystery. But no doubt Ricky was impressioned by Fanny and Crazy Chester. And everone I know that met Chester, has never forgotten him. He was truely a unique individual, and a little bit "crazy". Chester dies about 2 yrs ago, so pretty sure we will never know!Spotty - Orillia, On
It's entirely possible that this song is 'only' about Nazareth, PA and some of the members of The Band's friends.  Or it could have multiple meanings, and I think it probably does, though I suspect the significance of the other-than-primary meaning is or was kept to The Band's members.  I believe the primary meaning was that it was a way to convey in a uniquely American cultural idiom the 'high points' of the New Testament.  Look at the stanzas one by one and you can clearly see each maps to a major event or figure in the NT.  Now I am not a religious man at all, but I do calls 'em as I sees 'em.

 Eg, stanza 1:  he pulls into Nazareth, half past dead (born knowing he is doomed to die young for man's sins, etc.) and just wants a place to sleep, but there isn't one.  Sound familiar?  Or how about Carmen and the devil-- remember the temptations in the desert?  How about Anna Lee?  She's Mary Magdalen.  Crazy Chester is Paul, or more generally Jesus' followers, but it could allude to Judas, 'the dog' being his sinfulness at betraying Jesus, who 'feeds his dog' by allowing it to happen.  The final stanza is of course about the final sacrifice by crucifixion.

I think The Band has denied they wrote a sort of tribute song to Jesus because it wasn't PC at the time and in their circle to do so, and they may be maintaining this claim to this day.  But really, can it possibly be any more obvious?
Matt - Rochester, Ny
Not really sure what the song is all about, even after reading all these comments. It's still a terrific song with excellent overlapping vocals.
And/and/and///you put the load//put the load/put the load right on me.
Camille - Toronto, Oh
I always found it interesting how many bands, particularly those of the classic rock era, end up sniping and often breaking up (and leaving millions upon millions of dollars on the table in the process) over writing credits. Yes, it is a money thing, but is it really so hard to share. If memory serves, Mick Taylor (Rolling Stones guitarist after Brian Jones and before Ronnie Wood) was eventually booted from the band over his constant carping about not getting writing credits for the various Jagger-Richards songs that he collaborated on (and, yes, his drug use didn't help). You think he doesn't wish he had a nickel for every million dollars Ronnie Wood earned playing guitar for the Stones over the past 40 years! Heck, even Paul McCartney started a campaign in recent years to have the songs he wrote to be listed as McCartney-Lennon songs (and, of course, Yoko, keeps saying no). The Doors are one of the few bands who did it right. All songs.. no matter who wrote what... are "written by The Doors" and all writing credits shared equally. Yes, they grew to despise Jim on occasion (but not over money) and the band was essentially kaput by the time Jim died, but they managed to stay together and keep making music (and money) until that happened.Ken - Philadelphia, Pa
The lyrics "I will fix your rat if you watch Jack my dog;" a "Rat" is the nickname of a Chevy Big Block engineTommy - Hampton, Va
I am a long time Pennsylvania musician who resides fairly close to the town of Nazareth Pa. I have attended VIP tours by invitation at the Martin guitar factory. That being said, having lived and worked in southeastern Pa for my entire life, maybe I can shed some light on this song. Knowing what I know about writing music, and life here in Pa....... not unlike other places in the world, the song is what it is. What that means exactly is this. When we were all young musicians, writing was sometimes a struggle, so writing about what you knew was the best bet especially when you lived in an area where life could be considered surreal. Nazareth sits just north of the town of Bethlehem Pa., are you getting a picture yet ? The areaisis locatedPaul - North Wales, Pa
The lyrics are
"Crazy Chester followed me, and he caught me in a fog
He said I will fix your rack, if you'll take Jack, my Dog"
Jim - Woodland Park, Nj
"Crazy Chester followed me, and he caught me in the fog (or bog).
Said I will fix ____ ____ if you'll take Jack, my dog."
What are those two words?
Acoustic Bob - Northfield, Nj
Reply to S.D.Denver Co. (above)
If your theory about a biblical subtext for "The Weight" is correct, the line about not finding a bed should occur in Bethlehem, not Nazareth.
Also the correct lyric is "Crazy Chester followed me and he caught me in the "Fog"..., not "fall".
Finally, why in God's name (pun intended) would God, The Father, be referred to as "Miss Fanny"?
Your theory rests on very shakey ground, in my humble opinion.
Reply to John, New York N.Y.(above)
The correct name of the female Staple Singer who
rocks this song in The Last Waltz is Mavis Staple, not Marva. (The late "Pops" Staple's correct first name was Roebuck.)
Martin - Toronto, On
Hugh from Calgary, Canada. The Band has spoken very openly about their influences and they are a mix of music from the deep south both Black and White influences. Sorry bro, nothin Canadian about their music. The French and English music history have nothing that sounds like The Band which is pure Americana. Oh! and Canada is in North America if we need more fodder.Thomas - Sacramento, Ca
For the individual that remarked about Robbie Robertson not giving other guys in The Band their just song writing credits. Listen m8 The Hawks which became The Band after backing Dylan had been around long enough and Robbie the youngest member of The Band must have been really and master of deception to deceive these very capable Band m8's. Sorry J.R.Robertson is an extremely prolific song writer. They got writer's credits if their input warrented.Thomas - Sacramento, Ca
I'm pretty sure he says, "Fernice."Tim - Washington, Dc
You're ALL wrong!!! He's clearly saying 'Bernice'.Mike - Matawan, Nj
The Big Pink was in Saugerties near Woodstock, NY, a longtime artist's colony in the upper Catskills (west side of Hudson River). Originally the Woodstock Festival was to be held here, but the original site fell through and the organizers had to move it (to Yasgur's Farm in White Lake NY, further south and west, closer to the Borscht Belt part of the Catskills). Many musicians, including I believe Levon Holm, still live in the Woodstock area.Wanda - Upstate , Ny
yes! it's fannieNiles - Belpre, Oh
It's Fannie, not Annie. alot of people think it is Annie but if you check the lyrics it reads "fannie" it's just hard to here it in the song because it 'off' comes before the name and the flow of the song makes it sound like "offfAnnieeeee"Brock - Jackson, Mi
My mom got my middle name from this song. Except she spelled it, "Annaleigh." Whenever people ask what my middle name is they always comment on how pretty it is and unique.Lucia - Chicago, Il
I always wondered what this song was about I knew it wasn't just random stuff and peopleHunter - Camden, Tn
When I had only been dating my now fiancé for a couple of months, he got called out of town for work, and since I was on holidays for work I went with him. We drove 16 hours to the middle of ontario--in between Thunder bay and Sioux Ste. Marie, and all we got was a radio station called "The Giant" that would always play was "The Weight" ...it kinda became "our song" It's also the song that will be playing when we have our first dance as husband and wife. i know it's kinda hokey, but I always hear it! like last weekend, we went to a dinner theater, and they sang it. I was getting my nails done like 2 months ago...and it was on, or when were were camping in Jasper, AB the people at the next site were blasting it. I can't get away from it! lolLindsay - Winnipeg, Mb
My parents named my sister after this song "Annalee" and to this day we have never met anyone else with the name.Morgan - Bemidji, Mn
I have always loved this country tinged classic.
Take a load off, indeed.
Oldpink - New Castle, In
Panic at the Disco did a cover of this song at the beginning of their Civic TourJoe - Annapolis, Md
Who wrote this song? Robbie alone?Jim - Amsterdam, Netherlands
My favorite band Weezer just did a cover bonus track of "The Weight". However, I don't know if any band will ever top the performance of "The Band".Netnet - New Egypt Nj, Nj
The cannon ball is a reference to a train.Geo - Altoona, Pa
Yeah, it's pretty clear towards the end of the song, "...I do believe it's time, to get back to Miss Fanny..." No mistaking the FFFFFFFFF in that line. Besides Levon Helm in his own book mentions Fanny. By the way, I never knew what what "Fanny" meant in England until I saw the British show THE OFFICE. Its always meant "back side" here in America.Dogma - Alexandria, La
Its not' Miss "annie" it is Miss FANNY. Listen to it. Listen to it several times, and you'll hear the F.Bloodaxe - Lincoln, Ne
For those of you who think they are singing 'Fannie', you are very wrong. It just SOUNDS like Fannie because the word Annie comes after the word 'off'. So the F and the A run together. I can't believe nobody even listened to, or read the lyrics of the very last verse. It's plain as day. The person is Annie, not Fannie. Read this:

Catch a Cannonball, now,
to take me down the line
My bag is sinkin' low,
and I do believe it's time.
To get back to MISS ANNIE,
you know she's the only one.
Who sent me here
with her regards for everyone.

See? The proof was right in front of you all along.

My regards to everyone,

Brad - singer/songwriter, player of The Band misuc
Bradical - Indianapolis, In
this song is about the small Canadian towns, thats what it reminds me of each time i hear it.Nathan - From The Country Of, Canada
my 7 & 9 year old kids love this song. they sing it in the car with me, they like alot of the 70's music.Big Ed - Pulaski, Tn
Great song. By the way: Luis Buñuel was a Spanish director (exiled in Mexico), who collaborated with Salvador Dali, and friend of Garcia Lorca.Miguel - Madrid, Spain
This was in a SNL skit when Zach braff was hosting. They are in a bar and talk about what they think of when they hear the song. Funny stuff.

Great song too.
Jim - Philadelphia, Pa
I always though it was Annie. Maybe I just hoped it was since it is my name, and every word represents something or someone I have come across in my life. I have seen a few different bands play this song, and swear Bob Weir (Ratdog) sings Annie. I also believe Dylan sang Annie too. I now know The Band wrote Fanny, but I still have not found solid prove that it has never been sang Annie.Anne - Chicago, Il
I like the cover by Travis more than the original, it has a lot more depth.Renee - Saint John, Canada
Dylan also did the artwork for this album, in addition to Self Portrait.Mike - Scarsdale, Ny
as much as I liked this song I never really knew what it was about exactly until now.Nathan - From The Country Of, Canada
On the commentary track for The Last Waltz, you can hear the normally loquacious Martin Scorsese stumble to a halt in is commentary as he tries to describe what this song is about. That's why I love this song; it always feels like there?s another level to it that I haven't figured out yet.

Also, I think the version with the Staples Singers is the best. When Pops chimes in with "Hey Luke, my friend" I get a chill.
Sebastian - Boston, Ma
the band probably the best five musicians ever assemmbled in one rock band all five multi talented with instruments between the five members they could play about thirty different instruments garth hudson leading the way helm danko manuel three good voices robertson doing most of the writingRichie - Brooklyn, Ny
Travis the band also did a cover of this song.Stephanie - Kingston, Canada
Sorry yduR, Jesus was born in Bethlehem, he grew up in Nazareth, I think this Nazareth is in reference to the Pa. town though.Dale - Magrath, Alberta, Canada
Personally my Favorite Verse is the 2nd about Carman and the Devil... To Me... It shows how friends can really cause problems for you... Many people who are overcoming addictions are told that they may have to find new friends because Friends with Bad Habits or problems can spread onto you... Well what happens in the verse... There's Carman and the Devil walking Side by Side... And When Carmen is asked to go downtown with him... She's says she has to go but My friend(The Devil) can stick around... Leaving him with the Devil who was with Carmen... To me this Means Friends come and go but they can leave some nasty stuff behind... Robbie Robertson is brilliant...Brian - Grand Forks, Nd
The Scottish rock band, Nazareth, took their name from the first line of this song: "I pulled into Nazareth..." Later they recorded a hard-rock cover of Joni Mitchell "This Flight Tonight". Joni & Robbie Robertson of The Band were regular musical collaborators.Pat - Brampton, Canada
Sadie i have not read the book but when i did watch the movie it was very evident that the movie did try to suggest that it was Robbie Robertson featuring the Band, kind of deal.Kind of bugged me to be honest.I thought Levon had a hell of a good performance at that show.Kevin - Cincinnati, Oh
If anyone is truly interested in The Band, please read Levon Helm's book "This Wheel's Still on Fire", it explains everything that the movie The Last Waltz skips. That film was great, but was also a deal between Scorsese and Robertson, so everyone else got marginalized.Sadie - San Francisco, Ca
Once again I screwed up I wasn't a fan of the musicians who performed on the Weight I thought they were trying to steel the show.Dan - Lee, Nh
I'm sorry what I meant is I watched the Last Waltz and I wasn't a fan of the other musicians.Dan - Lee, Nh
I was at the last Waltz and this song was great but I wasn't a huge fan of the other performers on the song I thoght the song was always the band's not some other musicians trying to be a part of it.Dan - Lee, Nh
ive seen the Black Crowes cover this to, they did an awesome jobPhil - Palo Alto, Ca
Uh, Duh, Nazareth was also the birthplace of JESUS!!! There are MANY references to scripture in JRR's songs.Ydur - Knoxville, Tn
A true classic. It's such a fine mix of folk and rock by some of the best performers of all time.Dan - Lee, Nh
Nazareth, PA, is also the home of the Martin guitar factory. . .Anthea - Boston, Ma
A number of these songs contained what John Simon described as "personal folklore", with a number of characters and place names having a resonance for the members of the Band which no one else would necessarily understand. For example the "Crazy Chester" referred to in "The Weight" was a real person.

Robertson admitted this but qualified the statement accordingly: "You pick things that come to mind and [they] sometimes have to do with personal experiences and people that you have known. But, they are not 'specific' stories. It was North American folklore in the making".
(from http://theband.hiof.no/)
It is "Fannie," not "Annie/Anna Lee." And Bert, it isn't about the clap. But I guess audience interpretation is, in large part, based on personal experiences.
Tulei - Hopkinsville, Ky
Interesting. I've tried to put this together as a nativity song, stuck on the first verse: "Hey mister, can you tell me where a man might find a bed?" And there is something to the Christ in "...put the load right on me."Bruce - Yorktown, Va
It is funny that Phil says this song is pure American, Robbie Robertson, Rick Danko, Richard Manuel, and Garth Hudson are all Canadian. That is why they are goods friends with Joni Mitchell and Neil Young, who were in The Last Waltz.Hugh - Calgary, Canada
It's hard to improve on the Band's original performance of this song, but the version in the Last Waltz with the Staples beats it. Papa and Mavis demonstrate what soul singing is all about. It's also nice that the vocalist changes on each verse.Brian - La Mesa, Ca
The Band was not featured in the movie WOODSTOCK, but this tune was one of the outtakes that was used in the Lost Performances video. According to Mike Lang, one of the organizers of the festival, the Band were really nervous onstage. However, this version of "The Weight" is rather good.Barry - New York, Nc
The first time i heard this song I tought everyone were in the Hell, and Robbie was singing about his pass trough it, just like Dante Alighieri. Don´t you think so???Ricardo - Mexico, Mexico
The first time i heard this song I tought everyone were in the Hell, and the singer was singing about his pass trough it, jst like DanteRicardo - Mexico, Mexico
I like the version of this song from "The Last Waltz" done by The Band with the Staple Singers. Marva and Pops Staple add a nice gospel feel to the song.John - New York, Ny
Yes, the person is named "Fannie", not "Annie". "Take a load off, Fannie".Scott - Portland, Or
"The Weight" closed out an episode of 'Sports Night', which deals with the depths of human failure, and the hope and majesty of human achievement. A perfect musical choice.Robert - Puyallup, Wa
This was #41 on Rolling Stone's list of 500 greatest songs.Ross - Independence, Mo
isnt it fannie? not annie?Ryan - Edmonton, Canada
This is a great song, pure Americana! It is sad to know that each member contributed so much to the success of The Band, yet Robbie Robertson gets sole credit.
I know he wrote the majority of the lyrics, but if it wasn't for each member, no song would be what it is! Levon Helm's stories of his youth was part of the inspiration for this song. (Fanny was a childhood friend).Robertson's ego is evident in The Last Waltz, where he got the majority of commentary, and camera time.
I can understand that he wanted to move on, with the drugs, and personal issues of the group, but for him to get all the credit is total BS! Each menber is multi talented and genius in their own right!!
Phil - San Jose, Ca
"The Weight" is used in a new Cingular Wireless commercial, advertising how they're improving on their signal.Brendon - Paxton, Il
It seems that all the people he meets are dying. Carmen is with the devil, Luke's waiting on the judgement day, Chester needs him to feed his dog, and then at the end he says his bag is "sinking low and I do believe it's time". That's the way it has always come across to me, anyway.John - Cambridge, Canada
This song is just bout being a good person, with great singing and acousticsMatthew - Indy, In
Why was the version by 'Smith' included on the 'Easy rider'-soundtrack, and NOT the Band's original?Henning - Oslo, Norway
And it has become major Sold Out Gold, making TV and movie appearances.

It is now on the Cingular/AT&T Wireless commercials, it was in another commercial a few years ago with a girl throwing clothes into her car and splitting town and it was on an episode of the TV series Ed.

It was played in the movies Hope Floats, The Big Chill, Easy Rider, Girl Interrupted, Patch Adams, and Starsky & Hutch for God's sake.

This has always been a favorite of mine, but it is getting watered down in extreme of late.
Mike - Seattle, Wa
The band O.A.R. also covers this.Ross - Cleveland, Oh
This was covered by Shannon Curfman on her 1999 album "Loud Guitars, Big Suspicions."Joel - Jesup, Ia
The house "Big Pink" mentioned above was owned by Bob Dylan.James - Birmingham, Al
'Take a load off Fanny' was all about catching the clap.Bert Van De Kamp - Den Bosch, Netherlands
This was also covered by Spooky Tooth and was a minor hit in England.Janet - Perth, Australia
Dr. Dre did a cover of this featuring Jay ZJeffq - Nekoosa, Wi
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