Chest Fever

This is Richard Manuel. He was one of the 4 Canadian kids who joined one Amercian guy to form a truly unique musical group 40+ years ago. Although the title of this post comes from a song that featured Garth Hudson, Manuel is the one I think about most of the time when the topic of The Band is brought up within earshot.

Manuel’s voice was a key element in the unique vocal sound of the Band, and in combination with Levon Helm and Rick Danko created a beautiful, inspiring harmony. It is unusual even to this day. Listening to “I Shall be Released,” “Wheels on Fire” and “Long Black Veil” from their first album one gets the feeling the songs and that sound could have come from 100 years ago (or older). If you’ve never listened to Music From Big Pink I’d suggest it is a very worthwhile hour.

I’ve been thinking about harmonies over the last little while; when you grow up in a family that believes there are two kinds of music (country, and western) and has all of the Louvin Brothers albums you pick up a thing or two about harmonies. Good harmony takes time and familiarity and they usually work better when you are related (as in the case of Charlie and Ira Louvin and the Everly Brothers).

It resembles the kind of chemistry needed to create a good hockey line. Familiarity and some time to work out the changes.

The Edmonton Oilers spent part of the summer looking for a harmony singer for the top line but the auditions didn’t go well. As incredible as it seems, there are rumblings about using Andrew Cogliano on LW with Patrick O’Sullivan also possible and Robert Nilsson’s name has been whispered too.

If the Oilers don’t make any moves before opening night, the prevailing wisdom is Pat Quinn will prefer the stylings of Dustin Penner on the 1line. He’s familiar, he’s been effective in the role and he knows the songbook. Dustin Penner is not special, he was not touched by God, he is not hockey’s Richard Manuel, but he probably gets the first opportunity to show that the familiarity already created is enough to win the day.

What could change that? Cogliano blazing in pre-season or O’Sullivan scoring goals in bunches early in the year.

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