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That being said, having lived and worked in southeastern Pa for my entire life, maybe I can shed some light on this song.
Knowing what I know about writing music, and life here in Pa....... (above)If your theory about a biblical subtext for "The Weight" is correct, the line about not finding a bed should occur in Bethlehem, not Nazareth.
I made a scratch copy of a tape brought back from the US by some guys and a designer friend living in our flat upstairs in South Kensington, London UK back in the early summer of 1968 and this great song has been with me ever since.
I take the lyrics as a straight description of fact and geography but do read whatever you like into it as it is beautifully lyrical and powerfully performed an all great art invites one to do. v=3Ekr NSC3t1QI thought I'd add that in the biblical books of Luke and Matthew, Jesus said "Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head." "Son of Man" was an expression he used to refer to himself.
I believe the primary meaning was that it was a way to convey in a uniquely American cultural idiom the 'high points' of the New Testament.
Chester dies about 2 yrs ago, so pretty sure we will never know!
It's entirely possible that this song is 'only' about Nazareth, PA and some of the members of The Band's friends.
If memory serves, Mick Taylor (Rolling Stones guitarist after Brian Jones and before Ronnie Wood) was eventually booted from the band over his constant carping about not getting writing credits for the various Jagger-Richards songs that he collaborated on (and, yes, his drug use didn't help).
You think he doesn't wish he had a nickel for every million dollars Ronnie Wood earned playing guitar for the Stones over the past 40 years!