• i thought it was about drug use, a man travelling, living free, working hard and playing even harder to just sustain.
  • This tells the story of a guy who visits Nazareth, and is asked by his friend Annie to visit several of her friends. "The Weight" that is his load are all these strange people he promised he would check on. Nazareth, where the story takes place, refers to the town in Pennsylvania about 70 miles north of Philadelphia. The rock group Nazareth got their name from this line ("Went down to Nazareth, I was feeling about half past dead..."). In the liner notes for the Across the Great Divide box set, Robbie is quoted as saying that he chose that place because they make legendary Martin Guitars there, so he was aware of the place and been there once or twice.
  • "The Weight" takes the folk music motif of a traveler, who in the first line arrives in Nazareth in the Lehigh Valley region of Pennsylvania. Once there, he encounters various residents of the town, the song being a story of these encounters. Nazareth is the hometown of the guitar manufacturer C. F. Martin & Company. Years later, the band Nazareth took its name from this line. The Biblical Nazareth was the childhood home of Jesus. The residents include a man who cannot direct the traveler to a hotel, Carmen and the Devil walking side by side, "Crazy Chester," who offers a bed in exchange for the traveler taking his dog, and Luke who has gone out to wait for the apocalypse, leaving his young bride neglected. In Levon Helm's autobiography "This Wheel's on Fire," Helm explains that the people mentioned in the song were based on real people the Band knew. The "Miss Anna Lee" mentioned in the lyric is Helm's longtime friend Anna Lee Amsden I pulled into Nazareth, was feelin' about 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, and "No!", was all he said. (Chorus:) Take a load off Annie, take a load for free; Take a load off Annie, And (and) (and) you can put the load right on me. I picked up my bag, I went lookin' for a place to hide; When I saw Carmen and the Devil walkin' side by side. I said, "Hey, Carmen, come on, let's go downtown." She said, "I gotta go, but m'friend can stick around." (Chorus) Go down, Miss Moses, there's nothin' you can say It's just ol' Luke, and Luke's waitin' on the Judgement Day. "Well, Luke, my friend, what about young Anna Lee?" He said, "Do me a favour, son, woncha stay an' keep Anna Lee company?" (Chorus) Crazy Chester followed me, and he caught me in the fog. He said, "I will fix your rack, 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." (Chorus) Catch a cannon ball now, t'take me down the line My bag is sinkin' low and I do believe it's time. To get back to Miss Annie, you know she's the only one. Who sent me here with her regards for everyone? (Chorus)
  • I think there's certainly a reasonable religious interpretation of this song, even though it's claimed that Nazareth is a town in Pennsylvania. After all, it mentions Luke, the devil, Moses, Nazareth and Judgment day. My interpretation is: It's a thinly veiled first person modernized account of the trials and travels of Jesus Christ. The song starts with "I pulled into Nazareth... just need some place where I can lay my head." And the response? "no was all he said." Indeed as YSCF said, no room at the inn. Carmen is walking with the devil, and after being spoken to she parts ways with the devil. This is usually what happens in biblical accounts such as Matthew 8:28. I haven't figured out Crazy Chester yet. Take a load off Annie might suggest "have a seat" and might suggest scenes where sitting with Christ is an honored position. But more importantly I think this suggests the weight of sin. Take the load of sin off Annie, and you put the load right on me; that is, Christ frees you by taking upon himself your load of sins.

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