The Last Waltz

3-26-13          “The Last Waltz

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.

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This entry was posted in 1976, 1978, Bob Dylan, Films, Listening, Music Video, Record Collecting, SA-CD and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Last Waltz

  1. Warren says:

    I enjoy “That Last Waltz”. I have been told that it was an attempt to put a friendly face on a breakup over money. Apparently Mr. Robertson was getting the lions share of the publishing, and would not budge. Some other members of the group decided that the best thing to to was to end The Bamd. And since it was the 70’s, drugs were a factore. Apparently Mr. Roberson and Mr. Scorsese had the same dealer, so….

    I also know a guy who swears that his buddy made a lot of overtime removing a very large chunk of coke from Neil Young’s nostril in every frame of his solo performance in TLW. I watched it again with this story in mind, and I have to say that Mr. young does appear to extra happy to be on stage that night.

    None of this detracts from my enjoyment of TLW, but it does help tell more of the story. I am sure they’re is much more.

    BTW, I believe the LP is going to be reissued this year for Record Store Day.

  2. postpunkmonk says:

    We went through a “Martin Scorsese Classic Rock Film” phase a few years ago with “No Direction Home” and “Shine A Light” viewed so we figured “why not ‘The Last Waltz?'” I never cared for most of these musicians but grooved on the cinematography instead. It’s telling the changes in cinematographic/performance style from the late 70s to today. “The Last Waltz” is a sensuous feast for the eyes whereas “Shine A Light” is a jittery nightmare in comparison; all split-second editing, Varilites® and CGI. It’s the difference between a painting and a video game as art [just ask Roger Ebert!] The only musician on the stage I give any time to is Neil Young. Yeah, hi-def is a S.O.B. eh, Neil? I wish I could get prime dollars for retouching 70s rockstar nostrils for hi-def playback! Too bad they didn’t go for verisimilitude instead and enhance the blow no doubt on everyone’s faces…

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