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Rags and Bones - An Exploration of The Band

Rags and Bones

An Exploration of The Band

Edited by Jeff Sellars & Kevin C. Neece
Series: American Made Music Series

Hardcover : 9781496842978, 186 pages, November 2022
Paperback : 9781496842985, 186 pages, November 2022

The first scholarly study of one of the most renowned groups in the history of rock ’n’ roll


Contributions by Joshua Coleman, Christine Hand Jones, Kevin C. Neece, Charlotte Pence, George Plasketes, Jeffrey Scholes, Jeff Sellars, Toby Thompson, and Jude Warne

After performing with Ronnie Hawkins as the Hawks (1957–1964), The Band (Rick Danko, Garth Hudson, Richard Manuel, Robbie Robertson, and Levon Helm) eventually rose to fame in the sixties as backing musicians for Bob Dylan. This collaboration with Dylan presented the group with a chance to expand musically and strike out on their own. The Band’s fusion of rock, country, soul, and blues music—all tinged with a southern flavor and musical adventurousness—created a unique soundscape. The combined use of multiple instruments, complex song structures, and poetic lyrics required attentive listening and a sophisticated interpretive framework. It is no surprise, then, that they soon grew to be one of the biggest bands of their era.

In Rags and Bones: An Exploration of The Band, scholars and musicians take a broad, multidisciplinary approach to The Band and their music, allowing for examination through sociological, historical, political, religious, technological, cultural, and philosophical means. Each contributor approaches The Band from their field of interest, offering a wide range of investigations into The Band’s music and influence.

Commercially successful and critically lauded, The Band created a paradoxically mythic and hauntingly realistic lyrical landscape for their songs—and their musicianship enlarged this detailed landscape. This collection offers a rounded examination, allowing the multifaceted music and work of The Band to be appreciated by audiences old and new.


"It’s about time there was a solid collection of essays on The Band. The essays here are informative, engaging, and lucidly written. It’s enjoyable as well as insightful. An excellent collection."

- Thomas M. Kitts, professor of English and speech at St. John's University and author of John Fogerty: An American Son

"Rags and Bones, like The Band, contains multitudes."

- Ethan Warren, Los Angeles Review of Books

"A stimulating collection, Rags and Bones is a must for anyone with an abiding love for the musical output of The Band. Readers will be left with a deeper appreciation for the group, gain a greater understanding as to the meaning of inherent in several songs, and join the writers in embracing the legacy of a truly remarkable band of musical savants."

- Mark Thompson, Blues Blast Magazine

"In quilt-like fashion, editors Jeff Sellars and Kevin C. Neece have brought together nine insightful essays that illuminate The Band and its music from multiple perspectives."

- James Deutsch, Western Folklore

"{A}n innovative and engaging volume that significantly advances our understanding of The Band and its place in North American music."

- Simon Stow, Journal of Popular Culture