Rick Danko, “Tired of Waiting” from Rick Danko (1977): Across the Great Divide

An often-overlooked element of soul always ran just beneath Rick Danko’s music, imbuing everything he did with an uncommon warmth. It’s easy to hear, say, when he covers a Motown song, but it’s there too in original material like this deep cut from 1977’s Rick Danko.

As with much of the album, “Tired of Waiting” feels loose and personable, like something shared together on a twilit front porch. That’s just how Danko planned it.

“What I would do, I would get a couple of people together and play them the songs, and tell them a few things, a couple of very simple ideas and then we’d do a quick performance,” Rick Danko told Peter Stone Brown in 1977. “We’d do a song a day, and we’d usually end up doing that within five hours. And after that, we’d just go home and meet the next day. Recorded the whole album in maybe three weeks that way.”

That added bit of funk, that greasy sizzle, gives “Tired of Waiting” its own subtlety, and ultimately no small amount of grit. It opens instead with a decidedly unamiable groove, something that adds darker shadings to what comes next. And that’s a lot.

See, the lyric ends up speaking to a dream deferred, a fate Rick Danko surely understood — not just because he was in the midst of belatedly starting his solo career, but because the songs that would become Rick Danko sat canned up for nearly a year before their release. Worse still, when the album finally appeared, it was in such close proximity to The Last Waltz, the Band’s outsized farewell gala, that Rick Danko simply got subsumed.

All of the wind seem to leave Danko’s solo sails. A follow up for Arista, also featuring “Tired of Waiting” co-writer Jim Atkinson, was started but ultimately never released. He wouldn’t record again until the early 1990s. In fact, the first we heard of those post-Rick Danko sessions was as part of the 2005 Cryin’ Heart Blues compilation, issued more than five years after Rick Danko passed. Atkinson, who had earlier worked with Rick’s brother Terry Danko in the Juno-nominated band Bearfoot, eventually hooked up with Ronnie Hawkins — with whom they all had earlier connections.

Doug Sahm provides the distinctive guitar work on “Tired of Waiting”; co-producer Rob Fraboni, Ken Lauber and Joe Lala also sat in. Terry was part of the band (shown above) that toured in support of Rick Danko. That lineup also featured former Wings drummer Denny Seiwell and the squalling, R&B-soaked sax of Jerry Peterson.

Across the Great Divide is a weekly, song-by-song examination from Something Else! on the legacy of the Band, both together and as solo artists. The series runs on Thursdays.

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has explored music for USA Today, All About Jazz and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the nation by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso