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In case you hadn't seen this story, Levon Helm's family announced he is the "final stages" of his battle with cancer. You may recall he underwent treatment in the early 2000s for cancer in his vocal cords and managed to beat back that occurance and get back to performing in his small scale but world-famous "Midnight Ramble" concerts in his barn up in Woodstock.

I don't mean this as a backhanded compliment but as a true compliment. I've never been the biggest fan of the Band's music. I always thought their performances were always a bit too enthusiastic. A little too exuberant. At the same time, any conversation I've ever seen with Levon Helm -- either from The Last Waltz, historical clips on YouTube or a profile on CBS Saturday Morning a few years back -- showed how absolutely transparent and genuine Levon has always been. He simply likes music, likes the history reflected in music, likes drumming, likes people, and likes performing for people. Everything else is just fluff.

At this point, he can hopefully get some comfort from knowing how much enjoyment he's brought to fans of his work and how much respect he commands from people who know the difference between true artists and people merely answering casting calls for pre-fab pabulum -- the musical equivalent of pink slime.

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