"The Weight" as written by and Cliff/thompson Rigano....
I pulled into Nazareth, was feeling 'bout half past dead
I just need some place where I can lay my head
Hey, mister, can you tell me, where a man might find a bed?
He just grinned and shook my hand, "No" was all he said.

Take a load off Fanny, take a load for free
Take a load off Fanny, and you put the load right on me

I picked up my bags, I went looking for a place to hide
When I saw old Carmen and the Devil, walking side by side
I said, "Hey, Carmen, c'mon, let's go downtown"
She said, "I gotta go, but my friend can stick around"


Go down, Miss Moses, ain't nothin' you can say
It's just old Luke, and Luke's waiting on the judgment day
Well, Luke, my friend, what about young Annalee
He said, "Do me a favor, son, won't you stay and keep Annalee company"


Crazy Chester followed me, and he caught me in the fog
Said, "I will fix your rag, if you'll take Jack, my dog"
I said, "Wait a minute Chester, you know, I'm a peaceful man"
He said, "That's okay, boy, won't you feed him when you can"


Catch the cannonball, now to take me down the line
My bag is sinking low, and I do believe it's time
To get back to Miss Fanny, you know she's the only one
Who sent me here, with her regards for everyone


Lyrics submitted by Hunter, edited by rescuedrab

"The Weight" as written by Cliff/thompson Rigano

Lyrics © EMI Music Publishing

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The Weight song meanings
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  • +3
    General Commentquoting from wiki...

    Robertson on "The Weight"

    According to Robertson, "The Weight" was inspired by the films of Luis Buñuel, about which Robertson once said:
    (Buñuel) did so many films on the impossibility of sainthood. People trying to be good in Viridiana and Nazarin, people trying to do their thing. In ‘The Weight’ it’s the same thing. People like Buñuel would make films that had these religious connotations to them but it wasn’t necessarily a religious meaning. In Buñuel there were these people trying to be good and it’s impossible to be good. In "The Weight" it was this very simple thing. Someone says, "Listen, would you do me this favour? When you get there will you say 'hello' to somebody or will you give somebody this or will you pick up one of these for me? Oh? You’re going to Nazareth, that’s where the Martin guitar factory is. Do me a favour when you’re there." This is what it’s all about. So the guy goes and one thing leads to another and it’s like "Holy Shit, what’s this turned into? I’ve only come here to say 'hello' for somebody and I’ve got myself in this incredible predicament." It was very Buñuelish to me at the time.

    Only in this case, the traveler encounters the favor-asking people in Nazareth itself.
    midsummermuseon April 10, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General CommentTo me, "the weight" described in the song is the responsibility of the people in the living world. The singer has recently "left his body" but is in a place between life and death, soon to face judgement.

    "Ms. Fanny, who the narrator offers to take the 'load' for, is someone close to him, perhaps a lover or possibly some other family member. Fanny had died previously and left her responsibilities to the author.

    I pulled in to Nazareth, was feeling 'bout half past dead
    I just need some place where I can lay my head
    ``Hey mister, can you tell me where a man might find a bed?''
    He just grinned and shook my hand, ``No'' was all he said

    The narrator is very tired from the weights of the world, and wants to rest. Currently he's in Nazareth. which I think means he's between earth and heaven. There's no rest for this man yet, he must first face judgement.

    I picked up my bag, I went looking for a place to hide
    When I saw Carmen and the Devil walking side by side
    I said ``Hey Carmen, come on, let's go downtown''
    She said ``I gotta go but my friend can stick around''

    Carmen hanging with the Devil might mean she's destined for hell. As for the author wanting to hide, it might mean that he doesn't want to face judgement yet, indeed he says he's looking for a place to hide. The devil might be sticking around to usher in his new captives who are judged unworthy of heaven.

    Go down Miss Moses, there's nothing you can say
    It's just old Luke, and Luke's waiting on the judgement day
    ``Well, Luke my friend, what about young Anna-Lee?''
    He said ``Do me a favour son, won't you stay and keep Anna-Lee company?''

    Miss Moses might be Anna-Lee's mother, who is trying to convince Luke to return to life. Clearly Luke is in line for judgement and in the same situation as the narrator. He's decided to stay to face judgement, but asks the narrator to stay and keep anna-lee company. Perhaps Anna-Lee is Luke's daughter in the living world, and he wants the narrator to look after her when he's gone. Also, Miss Moses might be in line for judgement but less willing to accept it. I'm not sure what "go down" means between Miss Moses and Luke, and the relationship between them.

    Crazy Chester followed me and he caught me in the fog
    He said ``I will fix your rat if you'll take Jack my dog''
    I said ``Wait a minute Chester, you know I'm a peaceful man''
    He said ``That's okay boy, won't you feed him when you can?''

    This is the easiest of the segments to understand. Chester is dead, and he asks the narrator to stay alive to look after his dog. The narrator says hes a peaceful man, which might mean that he doesn't want to fight against death. But, Chester says feed him WHEN you can, which confuses me. If it were IF, it fit better with my interpretation. Still, though, i think that Chester asks the narrator to return to life to look after his dog.

    Catch a cannonball now to take me down the line
    My bag is sinking low and I do believe it's time
    To get back to Miss Fanny, you know she's the only one
    Who sent me here with her regards for everyone

    The line might be a mass transit system in Nazareth, or it might actually be a waiting line to judgement. Either way, the cannonball, whatever it is, it might be a train, has taken him to judgement. The last line, about Fanny sending the narrator to Nazareth, makes me think that he was killed by Fanny, but more possibly, he committed suicide because of her death and because of the weight she left behind. Or, he may have died of depression, without killing himself. Either way, it's clear Fanny is involved in his death, but it's also pretty certain that Fanny herself is dead, because he's going to "get back to" her.

    A pretty deep and awesome song, I'm not even the religious type, but its just awesome.
    smuggleron August 30, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think that this song is very bibilical. He pulls into Nazareth, and there is a man there who shakes his hand and says no politely. You can put the load (sins) on Jesus. What does everyone else think?
    Yarand21on November 04, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentRobbie Robertson said that when he wrote this song, it was just one of those things, where as he's writing, one word just led to another. He is talking about Nazareth Pennsylvania though. Overall, I don't think he even knows what it means.
    true1480on March 18, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthe weight i can rember the first time i heard this great song, i was stoned as f**k, and this song caught on the radio, i never ever had a feelin like the feelin i got from this song, i mean it was almost like the music it self was getting me high, like it was a drug, so ever day i listenin to the weight one or twice and from then on i dont listen to nothing but the band,,, my opion the band was the best groups in history and i think they should of be geiving sumthing more then what they got for makin sum of the greastest music in history......but that my opion,,,,, only thing i now is i would pay a million dollar to find out what happenin to me the day i heard this song,,, i no more ppl then just me felt thing way and i wish i could talk to one of them bout it......
    thebandfavon May 09, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General Commentsqb87 has this right. I know this because my wife is a granddaughter of "crazy" Chester. He did indeed have a workhorse named Fanny and a dog named Jack. A few of the other individuals were also names of family members (Carmen and Emily) What the whole song means is anybody's guess, and I am sure drugs might have been part of putting the whole story together. But at any account, Ricky obviously was impressioned by Chester and his family (I believe they were neighbours as well), but most of all was the vision of Fanny working in the fields. My understanding is that Ricky always wanted to unfurrow Fanny (take the weight off Fanny...) and ride the horse free from his burden. Whether he actually did, will always be a mystery. Ricky is dead of course. Fanny and Jack for sure are no longer in the real world, and Chester passed away about 2 years ago. And I can confirm Chester was pretty crazy!!
    Spottyon January 21, 2012   Link
  • +1
    Link(s)see link for IN DEPTH details...theband.hiof.no/articles/…
    ZipKingon July 25, 2013   Link
  • +1
    General CommentRobertson: The story told in the song is about the guilt of relationships, not being able to give what’s being asked of you. Someone is stumbling through life, going from one situation to another, with different characters. In going through these catacombs of experience. you’re trying to do what’s right, but it seems that with all the places you have to go, it’s just not possible. In the song, all this is ‘the load.’

    Quoted in ‘Martin Scorsese: a journey’ by Mary Pat Kelly, 1992.
    ZipKingon July 25, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General Commentman the Band is good. This song is a classic, i wish the band was more recignised as one of the best bands of all time. i love this song.
    rootsrockreggaeon September 21, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe Band was awesome, my favourite dvd is the Last Waltz where this song just shines, i'm not sure exactly what its all about, but the harmony and melody of this song is simply breathtaken
    jonosuron April 15, 2004   Link

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