"The Weight" by The Band is one of those songs that's been around so long that it's taken for granted. There is the recorded version on Music From Big Pink, and everyone and his mom has recorded it. But everyone in the music-sphere has been aflutter about it all over again today, thanks to a rehearsal video shot by Illinois photographer/videographer Zoran Orlic.
Rehearsing prior to a Wilco and Nick Lowe show last month at the Civic Opera House in Chicago, the video, that includes Wilco, Lowe, and recent Wilco-collaborator, Mavis Staples, who also appeared on the original track with The Band and her family band, The Staples Singers, seems rather spur of the moment. Given the cramped room everyone was in, and the working-up of parts as they sang, how did this piece of beauty really get caught on film exactly? I was curious, I know others were curious, so I said, "What the hell," and contacted Orlic to ask.
It turns out that it was, in fact, a fluke. Orlic, who has been a "fly on the wall guy in the studio" and such with Wilco for many years now, says he saw Staples there that night, one of the five nights the band was performing at the Civic, and decided he'd hang out to see what might happen. "I saw Jeff [Tweedy] take everyone to the rehearsal room. They were trying to find Nick and I was 50 feet away when they began singing." When Lowe came in, Orlic said he started filming, using a small mic and the video feature on his Canon 5D/Mark2 DLSR camera and "praying the audio was ok because there had been no time to check anything."
Everyone involved clearly recognized how special the moment was. "My heart was pounding throughout," says Orlic, hoping he was able to capture it all, and the smiles on Lowe and the Wilco members are broad throughout. Orlic said he showed the video to another music industry person last week and the man's reply summed it up best: "Look at Wilco, it's like they've been reduced to children." For a band like Wilco, one who has played with a ton of greats in its career, to have such a response proves how witnessing musical feats of beauty like this can make you love music all the more. I know the hairs raised on the back of my neck when Nick Lowe came in the song, and in the words of a friend, "I'm having some very crazy days at work right now, and those 4 minutes and 58 seconds I just spent watching recharged me for the next crisis."