Zac Brown Band Covers ‘The Weight’ in Joyous Tribute to Robbie Robertson

The group was joined onstage by King Calaway and Marcus King

Zac Brown Band covered “The Weight” in honor of Robbie Robertson, who died this August, during his stop in Saratoga Springs Performing Arts Center in New York on Sunday night. Robertson, the Band’s lead guitarist, wrote the hit song for the group’s debut studio album Music from Big Pink in 1968.

A video capturing Sunday’s performance released on Thursday, featuring Brown flanked my his crew of talented musicians and opening acts King Calaway and Marcus King. The epic fable of debt and burden was revived once again by Brown, who often covers the classic during his sets, and paid tribute to the master storyteller who helped forever change America’s pop-culture landscape. Each artist joined in to sing and rock out to the chorus, belting out, “Take a load off Fanny/Take a load for free/Take a load off Fanny and you put the load right on me.”

In a 1969 interview with Rolling Stone, Robertson attempted to explain how he wrote “The Weight.” “I thought of a couple of words that led to a couple more,” he said. “The next thing I know I wrote the song. We just figured it was a simple song, and when it came up, we gave it a try and recorded it three or four times. We didn’t even know if we were going to use it.”

The single went on to become one of the greatest songs in American history, generating cover versions by the Staple Singers, Joe Cocker, the Grateful Dead, Aretha Franklin, and countless others.


In 2020, Robertson spoke with Rolling Stone in the wake of the pandemic, following a surge in popularity of a video featuring a Playing for Change cover of “The Weight” with Ringo Starr. “It doesn’t sound old. It just sounds like it’s got this quality to it, that it could be new, or from 100 years ago,” said Robertson. “And that was one of the signature things of the Band — that this music did live in its own time zone, and I was always proud of that. Consciously or subconsciously, I always reached for that in writing when I could.”

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