3-26-13 “The Last Waltz”
On 3/26/66 the Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich 45 “Hold Tight” charts at No. 4 in England. Also on 3/26/66 the Bob Lind 45 “Elusive Butterfly” charts at No. 5 in England. Noel Coward croaks, 1973.
I recently got a Blu-ray copy of “The Last Waltz” film, which is about the farewell concerts of The Band at Winterland in San Francisco, CA.
All throughout the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, I had little or no interest in The Band. I couldn’t have cared less. Somebody else’s concern – not mine.
I started investigating the infamous Bob Dylan “Basement Tapes” in the mid-00’s – and found myself wanting to hear more music from The Band. As “Music From Big Pink” was produced by John Simon, that was a fairly painless pill to swallow. I love other albums produced by John from right around the time of “Big Pink” – the debut LP by Leonard Cohen, Simon’s work on the soundtrack to “You Are What You Eat” etc.
So, took about 5 years for me to hear all of the studio albums by The Band. I liked most of them just fine. Their previous live album, “Rock of Ages” is re-mastered as a Capitol 2CD set with a ton of new (extra) material added. I have MFSL SA-CD’s of some of their studio titles.
I guess I’d always shy’d away from them because of the strong ‘hippie ethic’ that I couldn’t identify with? I’d avoided “The Last Waltz” like the plague! 1977/8 just didn’t seem like the time to celebrate “hippie music” just yet.
So, I’m watching “The Last Waltz” on Blu-ray. I liked Martin Scorsese’s Dylan documentary “No Direction Home”. With his cinema eye, “The Last Waltz” plays very well – it doesn’t just seem like a tired old 70’s live show on film to me. The interviews are amusing – the members of The Band seem to walk a careful line of spaced-out goofiness and sagely intelligence, particularly where the music is concerned.
It really helps to see who plays what on stage. The Band are another one of those bands where the members sometimes swap instruments! So my information collected on The Band seems to make a bit more sense now.
I guess three of the members of The Band have shuffled off, Rick Danko, Richard Manuel and Levon Helm. I believe I have a book written by Levon Helm, about The Band. I guess Garth Hudson and Robbie Robertson are still pressing on regardless. Good for them.
“The Last Waltz” is not a film for everyone. It’s about the most polished up I’ve ever seen that generation of people on film, but some will still find it disingenuous. It’s actually quite enjoyable to view.