Robbie Robertson – How To Become a Clairvoyant

January 01, 1970

(429/Bella Coola Records)


How To Become a
not only marks Robbie Robertson’s first solo outing in over a
decade, but also his best work since his eponymous solo debut some 24 years
before. Its impressive list of guest musicians notwithstanding (Eric Clapton,
whose imprint is embossed on several tracks, Steve Winwood, Trent Reznor, Tom
Morello, Robert Randolph, etc.), it ranks as Robertson’s most personal and
prophetic effort to date, with several songs given to rumination and


The quiet, contemplative “This Is Where I Get Off” offers a
commentary on parting ways with the Band. “When the Night Was Young” looks back
on the innocence and idealism of youth, viewed from life’s rearview mirror. The
sound is smoky and cerebral, Robertson’s sandpapery vocals enhancing the
evocative effect. The interplay between Robertson and Clapton will have guitar
nerds taking notice, while those still bemoaning the Band’s demise will find
consolation in the gentle stride of “Madame X” and “Won’t Be Back,” either of
which might have benefited from Richard Manuel’s mournful croon. Regardless,
here, Robertson’s rebirth is affirmed.


the Night Was Young,” “Madame X” LEE ZIMMERMAN


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