“Tears Of Rage” opened (Music From Big Pink) with a slow (tempo), which was just another way of our rebelling against the rebellion. We were deliberately going against the grain. Few artists had ever opened an album with a slow song, so we had to. At the zenith of the psychedelic music era, with flaming guitars and endless solos and elongated jams, we weren’t about to make that kind of album. Bob Dylan helped Richard (Manuel) with this number about a parent’s heartbreak, and Richard sang one of the best performances of his life. It had those trademark horns and organ and the moaning tom-tom style of drumming that I’ve been credited with (inventing) by some observers, but I know that Ringo Starr was doing something like it at the same time. You make the drum notes bend down in pitch. You hit it, it sounds, and then it hums as the note dies out. If the ensemble is right, you can hear the sustain like a bell, and it’s very emotional. It can keep a slow song suspended in an interesting way. John Simon, Band producer/engineer/hornsmith, heard this and started calling me a bayou folk drummer, but not to my face. As a matter of fact, I found the tuning I used in “Tears Of Rage” by tuning to the flourescent lighting in the studio.
–Levon Helm, This Wheel’s on Fire: Levon Helm and the Story of the Band, p. 166