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Bon Iver Covers The Band’s ‘Ophelia’

Bon Iver
Kevin Winter, Getty Images

As music lovers all over the world mourn the loss of Levon Helm of the Band, the many musicians he inspired and influenced are giving their tributes from the stage in the form of covers. The night Helm passed away at 71 after a long battle with cancer (April 19), Bon Iver sang the Band‘s ‘Ophelia’ during a concert at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco.

Listening to the music both of them made, it may not seem like Helm had a lot in common with Bon Iver. But frontman Justin Vernon wrote and recorded much of Bon Iver’s breakthrough album, ‘For Emma, Forever Ago,’ while isolated in his father’s cabin in Medford, Wisconsin. the Band wrote their 1968 debut, ‘Music from Big Pink,’ while living together in a house in West Saugerties, a small town in upstate New York.

‘Ophelia,’ written by Robbie Robertson, appeared on the Band’s 1975 album, ‘Northern Lights – Southern Cross.’ The song reached No. 62 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart and was featured in ‘The Last Waltz,’ the Martin Scorcese film that captured the star-studded final concert of the Band’s the original lineup in 1976.

While the vocals lack the muscle of Helm’s original, it’s still a heartfelt performance from Bon Iver. And they also win points for both incorporating the horn section (such a distinct part of the orignal) and choosing to honor Helm with something other than ‘The Weight’ or ‘The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.’

Watch Bon Iver’s Cover of the Band’s ‘Ophelia’

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