Levon Helm's death on Thursday hit Greensboro's Laurelyn Dossett especially hard. Dossett had become friendly with the iconic singer/drummer from The Band in recent years, after he covered her song "Anna Lee" on his Grammy-winning 2007 album "Dirt Farmer." Helm introduced Dossett onstage at one of his "Midnight Ramble" shows as "the lady that wrote that beautiful song that sounds 300 years old," and it does sound like an artifact from the mists of time. "Anna Lee" is a song about a dead woman who comes back to her children in their dreams, singing to them -- which seems fitting now.
"I didn't know when I wrote it that I would be remembering Levon in that same way," Dossett said on Thursday. "He gave my little song a big life and I am forever grateful. I didn't know the iconic Levon, just this sweet old man who sang the hell out of my song, welcomed me into his home numerous times and remembered to ask about my daughters and husband. He was curious and full of life. I took Alice Gerrard up there for a gig; they know a lot of people in common but had never met. It was a thrill to listen to them at the kitchen table, telling stories. And then they started singing some old song that they both knew. Amazing."
Dossett will be at the Shakori Hills Grassroots Folk Festival this weekend, where she'll sing Helm's signature song "The Weight" with Tara Nevins. That song is very much in the air right now. Check out the scene Thursday night at Cat's Cradle, the encore played by Drive-By Truckers and Megafaun.