On June 3rd, 2011, Mavis Staples made the trek up to Woodstock, NY for a Midnight Ramble with Levon Helm. The respective Staples Singer vocalist and The Band drummer/vocalist had been friends for nearly four decades since first working together on The Last Waltz.
That warm summer night, they performed songs from The Rolling Stones, Nina Simone, Bob Dylan, The Band, and more. Little did they know it would prove the last time they met, as Helm died of throat cancer the following April. Now, that performance is slated for release as Carry Me Home on May 20th via ANTI- Records.
“It never crossed my mind that it might be the last time we’d see each other,” Staples said of the session. “He was so full of life and so happy that week. He was the same old Levon I’d always known, just a beautiful spirit inside and out. […] We hugged and hugged and hugged. I just held on to him. I didn’t know it’d be the last time, but in my heart and in my mind, Levon will always be with me because I take him everywhere I go. Yes, indeed. I can see him right now. And some sweet day, we’ll be together again.”
During the show, which occurred hours after Staples performed at Mountain Jam in nearby Hunter, NY, the two touched on each other’s catalogs with Levon’s “The Weight” as well as Staples’ “Move Along Train”, a song Helm recorded for his 2009 LP Electric Dirt, which won the first-ever Grammy Award for Best Americana Album. The two truly shine on some classic American songs, including “You Got To Move”, a video of which is available now. In this rendition of the old gospel song turned blues standard-turned-Rolling Stones Sticky Fingers track, the singers’ familiarity shines through as they trade smiles in the accompanying footage.
Watch Levon Helm and Mavis Staples perform “You Got To Move” and click here to pre-order Carry Me Home. Scroll down for the full tracklist and album artwork.
Staples has a loaded tour schedule ahead, with a number of dates with Levon’s daughter Amy Helm including one at Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) on May 20th when the album is released. For tickets and a full list of tour dates visit her website.
Mavis Staples & Levon Helm – “You Got To Move”
Carry Me Home Tracklist
1. This Is My Country
2. Trouble In My Mind
3. Farther Along
4. Hand Writing On The Wall
5. I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free
6. Move Along Train
7. This May Be The Last Time
8. When I Go Away
9. Wide River To Cross
10. You Got To Move
11. You Got To Serve Somebody
12. The Weight