Stage Fright

Album: Stage Fright (1970)
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  • Written by guitarist Robbie Robertson, this song is about the anxiety that comes from performing, and how even though it's a frightening experience, it's also kind of addictive.

    "There was something fascinating to me of that thing, about that particular dilemma," he told Goldmine. "That part of human nature, you know, that people will put themselves in that position where it scares you half to death, but you just gotta do it! It's very scary and very exciting at the same time. And it was kind of a personal thing for me, as well. I certainly felt a connection to that, and it was just something that I felt like I needed to express."
  • Band bassist Rick Danko was chosen to sing this. His voice had a tendency to sound somewhat nervous.
  • Fillmore owner and operator Bill Graham once called this the greatest song about performing ever written.
  • The album was mixed twice by two different people. The Band was looking for a different sound from their homey first pair of albums, and so they hired Todd Rundgren to mix Stage Fright. However, Band drummer Levon Helm disliked Rundgren greatly at the time, and Glyn Johns (famous for his work with Led Zeppelin at the time) was brought in. As a result, there were two mixes used for the original album. In later years, the album would be reissued numerous times with varying ratios of Rundgren and Johns material. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Joey - Athens, GA, for all above

Comments: 10

  • Remund from South DakotaI agree that this song is such a good representation of performing. As someone with stage fright, I completely understand the feeling of getting to the end, finally feeling comfortable, and wishing you could start over without the butterflies. Another great example of Robbie's excellent writing.
  • Stevie from Weehawken, NjThat's funny that Rick Danko sang it 'cause he sounds nervous....maybe it's about him.
  • Stevie from Weehawken, NjEons ago I heard Robbie Robertson wrote this song about himself.
  • Henry from Burlington, VtI always thought this song was about Van Morrison. He lived in Woodstock in the early days when Dylan and the Band were holed up there. It's been well documented Morrison suffers from stage freight and as you read the lyrics you may see its a good fit.
  • Alph from Bridgeport, CtWhen I saw the Dylan - Band tour in January 1974, after Dylan left the stage and the Band had their set, they opened POWERFULLY, with this number. As Dylan had not toured since 1966, it was very apropos.
  • Larryx from Larryville, OhSurprised people miss this.

    This is a piece about re-incarnation.

    Prison baby !

    But when we get to the end - he wants to start all over again.

    Bill Graham must have had a silver spoon along with no fault in life.

    Getting caught in the spot light -


    Gets to sing just like a BIRD

    This song is about fault - and redemption - and just maybe breaking free - OR - coming back and repeating it all again.

    Hindu style !
  • Don from Newmarket, CanadaAllegedly this tune was written about Bob Dylan. Robbie Robertson has always denied this.
  • Tom from Memphis, TnIf you've ever had to appear before people, no matter how many, there's that little butterfly in the stomach before you're in the spotlight. I've been a teacher for forty years, and I had my first "stage-fright" my freshman year in college. I still get panicked sometimes. I think the line "But when he gets to the end, he wants to start all over again," is the best description of anyone who has been in that spotlight.
  • Jon from Tucson, AzI listen to this before exams for motivation.
  • Joanie from Bowling Green, KyI always thought this song was about Robbie Robertson. I read somewhere that he had such stage fright that he traveled with a personal hypnotist
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