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The Last Waltz: Thanksgiving Day 1976

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Zomby Woof Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-27-08 03:15 PM
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The Last Waltz: Thanksgiving Day 1976
Speaking of favorite soundtracks - this one is one of my essential Thanksgiving Day traditions:

The Last Waltz was a concert by the Canadian-American rock group, The Band, held on Thanksgiving Day, November 25, 1976, at Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco. Billed as a "farewell" performance after 16 years of touring, the concert saw The Band joined by more than a dozen special guests, including Paul Butterfield, Eric Clapton, Neil Diamond, Bob Dylan, Ronnie Hawkins, Dr. John, Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison, Ringo Starr, Muddy Waters, Ronnie Wood and Neil Young.

The event was filmed by director Martin Scorsese and made into a documentary of the same name, released in 1978. The film features concert performances, scenes shot on a studio soundstage and interviews by Scorsese with members of The Band. A triple-LP soundtrack recording was issued in 1978. The film was released on DVD in 2002 as was a four-CD box set of the concert and related studio recordings.

The Last Waltz is hailed as one of the greatest concert films ever made.

Beginning with a title card saying "This film should be played loud!" the concert documentary is an essay on The Band's influences and their career. The group Rick Danko on bass, violin and vocals, Levon Helm on drums, mandolin and vocals, Garth Hudson on keyboards and saxophone, Richard Manuel on keyboards, percussion and vocals, and guitarist-songwriter Robbie Robertson started out in the late 1950s as a rock and roll band led by Ronnie Hawkins, and Hawkins himself appears as the first guest. The group backed Bob Dylan in the 1960s, and Dylan performs with The Band towards the end of the concert.

Rick Danko performs in the concert with a Gibson Ripper bass. Various other artists perform with The Band: Muddy Waters, Paul Butterfield, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison, Dr. John, Neil Diamond and Eric Clapton. Genres covered include blues, rock and roll, New Orleans R&B, Tin Pan Alley pop, folk and rock. Further genres are explored in segments filmed later on a soundstage with Emmylou Harris (country) and The Staple Singers (soul and gospel).

The film begins with The Band performing the last song of the evening, their cover version of the Marvin Gaye hit "Don't Do It", as an encore. The film then flashes back to the beginning of the show and follows it more or less chronologically. The Band is backed by a large horn section and performs many of its hit songs, including "Up on Cripple Creek", "Stagefright" and "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down".

The live songs are interspersed with the studio segments and interviews with director Martin Scorsese, in which The Band's members reminisce about the group's history. Robertson talks about Hudson joining the band on the condition that the other members pay him $10 a week each for music lessons. The classically trained Hudson could then tell his parents that he was a music teacher instead of merely a rock and roll musician. Robertson also describes the surreal experience of playing in a burnt-out nightclub owned by Jack Ruby.

Manuel recalls that some of the early names for The Band included "the Honkies" and "the Crackers". Because they were simply referred to as "the band" by Dylan and their friends and neighbors in Woodstock, New York, they figured that was just what they would call themselves.

Danko is seen giving Scorsese a tour of The Band's Shangri-La studio, and he plays the director a recording of "Sip the Wine", a track from his then-forthcoming 1978 solo album Rick Danko.

A recurring theme brought up in the interviews with Robertson is that the concert marks an end of an era for The Band, that after 16 years on the road, it is time for a change. "That's what The Last Waltz is: 16 years on the road. The numbers start to scare you," Robertson tells Scorsese. "I mean, I couldn't live with 20 years on the road. I don't think I could even discuss it." The theme is further explored in the choice of songs Scorsese filmed, "Up on Cripple Creek" for one, which has the line, "this living on the road is getting pretty old."

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Medusa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-27-08 05:22 PM
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1. Saw the 30th anniversary edition with the commentary
from Robbie Robertson & Martin Scorsese----my all-time fav rock and roll documentary.
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benny05 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-27-08 06:09 PM
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2. Forever Young/Baby Let Me Follow You Down
My favorite on this last gathering.

I still get teary-eyed when I hear it.

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RagAss Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-27-08 07:20 PM
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3. Classic. !!!..wore out the vinyl and killed the cd set !
Two above all..."Coyote" by Joni and "Caravan" by Van the Man !
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skygazer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-27-08 07:24 PM
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4. Great tradition!
I need to own that one - definitely one of the best concert films.
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Kat45 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-27-08 11:47 PM
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5. The best concert film! I LOVE that one!
Saw it in the theaters when it came out, got the album and the video. Guess I'll have to replace those with today's new-fangled technology.
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Amerigo Vespucci Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-27-08 11:54 PM
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6. I saw this in a theater in S.F. when it first opened with a group of friends...
...amazing day. Just amazing. The only reason I don't own "Last Waltz" on DVD is the fact that that I've seen it 8 or 9 times on cable, and nothing matches the experience of watching it in a theater, with refreshments that shall remained unnamed, and that group of friends, long since scattered to the four winds.

Phil, Richard, Barry, and Tim Petty once sang, "Wherever you are tonight, I'm wishing you the best of everything in the world..."

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hippywife Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-27-08 11:55 PM
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7. Gah!
I should have thought of that for this evening. It does make me cry, though, see all those folks so young and in their prime.

Excellent film! :thumbsup:
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