I haven’t yet read his autobiography, Testimony (it’s on order) nor delved into his being, but I love Robbie Robertson’s music. I was sad to learn of his recent passing. We are the same age, survived the same era from WWII to tangled Trump times. And I suspect both of us feel passionately about expressing through art what matters to us.
Robbie’s honesty in lyrics and sound deeply enters one’s soul. A line in his song, “Ghost Dance,” inspired my large oil/mixed media painting which I titled “You Don’t Stand a Chance.”
Robbie, who was part Native American and spent much of his youth on his mother’s Canadian reservation, cites Chief Crazy Horse’s words: “You Don’t Stand a Chance Against My Prayers . . . You Don’t Stand a Chance Against My Love.” I incorporated both lines in my painting, completed in March 2023, shown in a former posting on this site as well as in this posting. A reprise was necessary to honor Robbie’s exceptional musical life.
In the mid-1990s after traveling out West, I studied the Ghost Dance religion of the late 1800s, reading primary source materials. Fascinated by this religion, begun by the mystical prophet Wovoka, which included Christian elements, a circle dance, promises of peace, return of Native American ancestors and buffalo, and riddance of white man’s dominance, I wanted to learn all I could.
Then in 2023, being a fan of The Band and all of Robbie Robertson’s work, I happened upon his DVD, Robbie Robertson and the Red Road Ensemble which includes rhythmic indigenous music and also “Ghost Dance.” I played it every day for weeks, letting its meaning fold into me.
Then the painting came. I love this painting. I love the music that inspired it. I love all the great music Robbie Robertson gave to this world and encourage you to find it.
Artwork: You Don’t Stand a Chance, oil/mixed media, 30″ x 30,” $1,200. This piece is a favorite. It tumbles at you in a poignant deluge of meaning, especially when accompanied by Robbie’s song, “Ghost Dance.”