Friday, May 4, 2012

Serious Contenders: The Band, "Chest Fever"

If I'm being perfectly honest, my personal favourite Band song is not "The Weight," nor is it "Up on Cripple Creek" or "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down." It's probably the radio single in which they sound the least like The Band, the ragged bunch of border-crossing Civil War buffs, "Chest Fever." This song is so insane that for a long time I didn't not know what it was called or who it was. But that Garth Hudson organ, a staggering thing, lingers in you like a virus, makes you sweat it out, while the lyrics are distant and incomprehensible, vaguely related to feeling ill after a break-up.

There's not a lot about this song that speaks to what "The Band" was, except its all-together jamminess, but without the central hold of down-home rustic, it flies off into psychedelic Vanilla Fudge territory, and lives there comfortably.

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