- Original working typescript of "Yazoo Street Scandal" as written by Robbie Robertson [West Saugerties, NY, early 1968] - being the essential final lyrics as recorded and first officially released on the album The Basement Tapes, 1975
1 and 1/4 pages (8 1/2 x 11 in.; 216 x 279 mm). Typing paper comprising the complete song in nine stanzas, with minor typed deletions and changes from the final recorded version. Light marginal staining.
"My sister Bonnie was beautiful, cool and musically precocious, that is, she had great ears. I was in the end of my freshman year at UNC in 1965 when I got a postcard from her saying she had heard the best band ever. I didn’t take this assessment lightly. Bonnie had been involved in music from the age of 15 singing backup and recording with a high school band which included Jack Cassidy in DC, our home town. The “best” band ever was Levon and the Hawks and they were appearing at Tony Mart’s on Somers Point outside Atlantic City. A year later I met Levon at his and Bonnie’s apartment in LA. They were to be an item until late in 1969 and she spent a lot of time with The Band in Woodstock during those transitional years. While in LA, she and Levon were friends with Leon Russell. I remember that Levon and Leon, Bobby Keyes, Jesse Ed Davis and others were part of a pick up band that played dates around town and it’s at that time that Bonnie became close to Kay Poorboy who was Carl Radle’s girlfriend. Bonnie was also good friends with other “Shelter People”, so it was natural for Kaye and Carl to invite her to Miami to the Layla recordings, every day of which Bonnie’s diaries recount in excellent detail." (Monty Diamond)
Bowman, Rob. Music From Big Pink (CD booklet, 2000). The Band. New York: Capitol Records.
The Band takes its Southern inspiration from its sole American member, Levon Helm, and begins to hone their sound
Songwriter Robbie Robertson describes his inspiration as Yazoo Street in a town in Helm's home state of Arkansas: "I thought, 'Wow, they don't have streets like that in Canada. There's no streets up there called Yazoo!' It was like, 'Jesus, let me make up a little story here about stuff going on in this kind of almost red light district.' Everything was lit in red in that song for me." Robertson recorded the lead vocal for the first version of this song, but because it was set in the South, The Hawks decided that Levon Helm would be a more appropriate choice to truly deliver the song.