Some of the interesting responses that we've gotten, both good and bad...
that BOC thing is a little weak, especially on early history. the bouchards, meltzer and pearlman all went to stony brook together (along with howie klein, who was part of their circle as well). those guys all wrote for early crawdaddy as well. meltzer wrote pretty much all the lyrics for soft white underbelly and stalk forrest, although he wrote less for each LP after they became BOC. he once told me he actually sang with the band a couple of times, around the point when they all lived in a house together out on long island. this all comes up in the nazz essay in gulcher. anyway, pass this info to the writer. he might want to do some more investigations.
Well I feel like it's way too late for me to be drafting a response to an article written some 13 years ago. That said, there are some things I MUST say about it...particularly about Ms. Fikes' perceptions regarding Rick, Richard, Levon, & The Band.
Like I said...I feel like this is a waste of time.
What I know, however, is what most individuals learn at some point; It doesn't matter what I feel!
Just like I know it doesn't matter how I, as an individual out of 7 billion, feel....I know that Rick, Levon...George Jones, Jerry Garcia, Hank Williams, all must've experienced the same type of negative feeling on a regular basis.
Being a musicians, you are entirely dependent on others perceptions of you, you're music, you're style...everything. Musicians therefore, by nature, are completely out of control when it comes to their jobs. Because if the majority of the audience doesn't react well to you're performance....well you've either gotta start looking for a more receptive audience...or seriously consider retiring from the music business, and take a 9-5.
Just knowing how little you're own feelings matter...is really something most would rather not know...but especially performing artists.
I digress....what I really came here to talk about is the kind of soft-resentment I can't help but notice Marianna seems to have towards Rick.
Rick Danko, by all accounts was a decent man. Came from humble begennings, shared humbly in success with his brothers in arms, and met a tragic, though humble end.
Theres one line near the end of you're article where you mention the assumption that Rick had been slowly killing himself with drugs.
But let's look at the facts. We KNOW that Rick had a horrible accident in the late 60's that broke his neck...fucked him up pretty bad, i'm sure.
So no doubt he would've been introduced Morphine, Codeine, Dilaudid...who knows what kind of addictive substances. It was such a time in America that something like taking a few pills seemed completely innocent, since most of his contemporaries were probably taking Cocaine & Pot & Psychedelics by the barrel, which made his fledgling narcotic habit background noise...behind the Band, behind the partying, behind the music...there was God's own Medicine keeping Rick, in all honesty, functional.
You try enjoying life with a broken neck.
I personally believe that that was Ground Zero, as far as Rick's lifelong struggle with substances. He was in pain...Opiates DID help, and probably did until his dying day.
Let's compare Rick's substance use to Richards. Richard was talented no doubt, but he too, had his own cross to bear. He was horribly shy...when he joined the band(I think around age 22 give or take) he sheepishly told Levon that "he had been drinking for 12 years" or something along those lines.
Everybody knows firewater is a practical cure for shyness, inhibition...fear, in certain cases. If booze was good for his shyness, so was the Valium, and Tuinal.
Of course at some point, he probably gets a combination of extenuating factors; 1.) Benzodiazepines, Barbituates, & Alcohol are ALL individually notorious for their ability to cause, or unmask severe depression. Suicidial tendencies incredibly common with these classes of drugs, all similar in action. So he was probably not only physically depressed (slow, lethargic possibly), but now after using these to cure his "shyness" for so long he becomes mentally depressed.
2.) There's a cure for that, and Richard found it..in Cocaine. 3.) Now on top of the Barbituates, Alcohol, etc....(the MOST dangerously addictive drugs known to man...yes even more horrid withdrawal symptoms than Heroin & Cocaine combined), he's also using cocaine...Cocaine releases Dopamine, Serotonin, and others...but all feel good chemicals.
You may start to notice a theme here...these guys didn't want to feel bad...nay they couldn't feel bad. In order to do their jobs right, they NEEDED to feel good.
From my speculation, the Drugs of choice were very different between Richard & Rick.
Richard didn't need pain relief, but anxiety relief. Rick didn't need as much anxiety relief as he did pain relief.
I'm writing all this, because I feel like you somehow hold it against Rick for medicating himself, until the bitter end. Simultaneously, it seems like you praise Richard for medicating himself TO the bitter end. Because that's exactly what they both did, respectively.
The main differences between the effects of the drugs they used is that they are completely different. So different that one could lead someone to a more natural end, while the others could lead someone to an early demise.
Opioids improve QUALITY OF LIFE especially in people with chronic severe pain....like one might have even years after breaking their neck.
Personally IMHO: Loss of Quality of Life>Loss of life. Because if you don't FEEL good enough to function like you want...what's the point of living?
This is a HUGE component to both Rick & Richard's drug habits. Very different people, very different problems, very different drugs of choice, and ultimately, Very different demise.
Richard had been through so much..mentally, physically...he'd been through hell, and by 1986, I think he got to the point...where he felt completely helpless, hopeless, desperate for relief. No doubt after using Cocaine & Barbituates & Alcohol for 20 years, a severe degree of tolerance will accumulate. Meaning that he could spend all his money on coke & booze, and still end up feeling nowhere near the relief he used to get. That leads to desperation. Desperation in this kind of person is bad.
As Hunter S. Thompson once said, "you can turn you're back on a person, but never turn your back on a drug" Cocaine can cause impulsivity..Barbituates can too..impulsivity & disinhibition is a recipe for disaster. Especially in a severely depressed person, as we all know Richard was by then. In my mind Richard took his life, not only as a side effect of chronic drug abuse & depression, but because he was so desperate for relief from his earthly pain. Out of sheer desperation, with no other options apparent...what else could he do?
Rick, on the other hand...continued using dope sure. Only real difference is that Morphine and the like are much safer long-term, not only physically(than alcohol, pills, & cocaine) but much safer mentally. With opiates used for pain, they don't change who you are...if anything did that, it was years of pain, being constantly overworked, or getting old.
When you mix those 3 things, they would have MUCH more of an effect on Rick's personality than any drug he may or may not have been using.
Of course he gained weight, musicians don't excersice.
And of course he was jaded...tired & broken from years of being fucked over by Robbie, losing The Band, Losing Richard...from singing the same songs every show.
In the end, Rick really did work himself to death. He did what he had to do, to keep working, because he knew, just like Richard knew, and just like I know, that it doesn't matter how you feel...It matters what you DO!
And if he didn't work himself to death, he would've gone broke for sure.
I have a great deal of respect for both Richard, Rick (Levon, Garth as well but this is about the Real RR's of the band.). They had their crosses to bear, like we all do. Instead of giving up, taking off, they hid their pain..they changed how they felt, so that they could carry on. They hid their suffering to entertain me...to entertain YOU.
So as long as you're going to be critical of Rick's habits, remember that he did a hell of a lot more for YOU than you've ever done for him.
And that's all that really maters in the end...being able to say, "i left a positive mark on that hell of an earth down there".
If they had to take dope in order to make the music they did...you should be THANKING them, for the ultimate sacrifice that they ALL made. The world is a better place for having the Band's music in it.
SO how you feel doesn't EVER matter...to anybody..except yourself. That's why they did what they did..try to understand...if you can't, at least try to appreciate people who make such sacrifices, not only for themselves, but for the greater good.
There is a tremendous difference between using drugs to simply party, and using them to be productive...to function...to survive.
The latter is almost always OKAY in my book...the former is simply annoying. Don't confuse the 2 next time.
P.S. It may be because you're a female author. My mom always says that raising her first 2 daughters was easy. Then when my brother and I came along, started getting older...she'd just never seen anything like it.
Alcohol & Drug addiction...reckless stuff..jail
time..fights..but I think most of all, the crippling levels of fear, insecurity, pain, & pressure to succeed are probably what keeps Men collectively addicted to a wide array of substances...as wide as the United States Pharmacopia!
For some it's the only way...we all try..but sometimes we're just not enough.
"I got fire water right on my breath..the doctor warned me, I might catch a death. Said you can make it in you're disguise, just never show the fear that's in you're eyes"
"Get up jake, theres no need in lying, you tell me that you're dying, but I know it's not true"
I think that about sums up those two...they did what they HAD to do to keep doing. Period.
Sincerely, A misunderstood Mister..
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