Monday, January 11, 2010

From 2007

I just found this while delving through my old livejournal site:

I watched The Last Waltz twice this weekend. I think it's great, but the more you watch it, the more certain things stick out. To wit:

1) Can you take yourself more any more seriously than The Band does? Aside from four Canadians trying to ape the one southerner in the band to the point that they're using a Confederate flag as an interview backdrop IN 1976(!), the whole idea of The Band's last live show being some end of an era in American music is pretty weird. I mean, seriously - who gave a shit? They had enough material to fill one good album, and two legendary singles - "The Weight" and "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down." Beyond that it's a ton of awkward filler with ridiculous record names - "Moondog Matinee," "Northern Lights, Southern Cross," etc. Yet Scorsese directs their farewell concert??? This would be like Pearl Jam hiring Spielberg.

2) With that said, the Band are astonishingly good on this. Levon Helms has said that most of Robbie Robertson's backing vocals had to be overdubbed later, but even if just the music is live (and Helm's voice) they rip the shit out of that place. Helms is criminally underrated as a drummer and a singer. When he starts knocking it out at the end of "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down," it's hard to believe how good he was. He steals the entire show on a night that featured almost every great rock star from the 70s who was still alive.

3) I love Garth Hudson's hair.

4) How awkward is the scene where Richard Manuel starts talking about how much he loves the women on the road???? For one, he looks batshit crazy, like someone who's living underneath the Fallsway with his urine-soaked Beanie Baby collection. Two, all the other members start hemming and hawing and tripping over themselves trying to cover up Manuel spilling the beans...Robertson's particularly great when he gives him the mock friendly pat on the back that really means "Come on brother, keep it together."

5) Is there a way to get a feed of the microphone that Neil Diamond and Dr. John share on "I Shall Be Released"? That has got to sound fucking insane.

6) Speaking of which, what is Neil Diamond even doing here? His version of "Dry Your Eyes" is completely ridiculous. (Which can be good or bad, depending on your feelings on Diamond...he's a completely ridiculous guy.) It was edited out of the final footage, but when he came onstage he said "I'm only doing one song, but I'm doing it good." Then he told BOB-FUCKING-DYLAN "You better be pretty good to follow that" when he went off-stage!! Dylan told him "What do I have to do - go on stage and fall asleep?" Neil Diamond is terrible (but always, always, always a potential knock-out on the unintentional comedy scale).

7) Emmylou Harris...yowzers. She's a queen and has somehow gotten hotter in her old(er) age.

8) Ric Danko is coked out of his mind for this entire thing. It's pretty bad when you're competing with a guy who looks like Mr. Teeth for the title of Least Healthy-Looking Dude in The Band. When he speaks for more than 10 seconds he starts sounding like Jesse Camp.

9) I kind of love that they invited Ronnie Hawkins back out for the big all-star jam at the end THEN DIDN'T GIVE HIM A MIC!!! He just stands there in the middle of the stage, drinking a beer, watching everyone play. I mean, at some point they had to go up to him and say, "Listen, Ronnie, we want you out there...but stay away from the mics, OK?" How awkward must that have been?

10) Eric Clapton's great at guitar...but who really cares? Seriously?


Beckner said...

You're fuckin high, still. First two Band albums are completely fantastic.

Philbertun said...

I've always wondered where you got your information about the Neil Diamond - Bob Dylan confrontation from. You are the only person who has ever mentioned this to me. Who told it to you?
You have a fantastic post here. I didn't know this blog existed until a few minutes ago, but I like it.

Philbertun said...

I stand corrected. Wikipedia just proved you right.
I feel ashamed.