The Band / Bob Dylan

Ain't No More Cane

Composed by Traditional

Song Review by

One of four songs on The Basement Tapes with no Dylan involvement in whatsoever, "Ain't No More Cane" is one of the joys of the whole collection, a simply magnificent version by The Band, who treat the song with just enough reverence, yet enfuse it with unbridled joy. The song dates back to the turn of the century, although the identity of it's author has been lost, and many artists have chosen to record it, most giving it a somewhat maudlin treatment that Dylan himself gave in the Gaslight Cafe in 1962. The song's lyrics act as a lament, "Should have been on the river in 1910/Uh-Uh-Uh-Uh", but The Band give it a radical, good-time feel, and speed up the tempo to the point where the song feels like a celebration. Some of the most gorgeous off-the-cuff harmonies you'll ever hear from Levon Helm, Rick Danko and Richard Manuel are the most notable feature of the song, but the musicianship is also sublime, especially Robbie Robertson's mandolin-like guitar playing. Although the song has been performed by many artists, The Band's version is undoubtably the one to hear.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
The Basement Tapes 1975 Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab 3:58
The Complete Album Collection, Vol. 1 2013 Columbia / Sony Legacy 3:56
blue highlight denotes editor's pick