“The Weight” has to be one of the most frequently covered songs of the past half century. Shockingly, four versions of the song charted in both the U.S. and Canada: the original by The Band plus covers by Jackie DeShannon, Aretha Franklin, and Diana Ross & The Supremes with The Temptations.
A number of other artists have played the song live. Wilco performed one of our favorite versions of the song with help from Mavis Staples and Nick Lowe, but they’re far from the only ones who have tackled it. The Wikipedia article for the song takes 20 lines to discuss all of the different artists who have covered it, ranging from older musicians, like Grateful Dead and Waylon Jennings, to younger bands such as Panic! at the Disco and Hanson.
Moreover, the endless stream of cover versions doesn’t seem to be slowing down at all. In fact, a ton of covers of the song have been springing up recently in tribute to Levon Helm, who died this year. The Black Keys performed the song with John Fogerty at Coachella, the day after Helm passed away, and Bruce Springsteen played it after a fan requested it a few weeks later.
Punch Brothers recently added their own version to the mix during a Back Porch Session for Garden & Gun. It seems like it was only a matter of time before they covered this song, seeing as it’s covered so frequently, and Punch Brothers are masters of the cover song. They covered The Cars for AV Club’s Undercover, they included a fabulous cover of Radiohead’s “Kid A” on their latest album, and you never know what covers are going to pop up in their set lists. At their show in Prospect Park they played four covers, including “Ophelia,” another song by The Band.
Check out the cover below, and let us know which cover of “The Weight” is your favorite.