Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving: The Last Waltz

The greatest Thanksgiving-related event in rock is easily The Last Waltz. Held on Turkey Day in 1976, The famous farewell concert by The Band featured a litany of guest stars to help them bring it all back home.

Filmed and directed by Martin Scorcese, who infused the concert with the same energy that drives Taxi Driver and Raging Bull, The Last Waltz stands atop the heap of all-time great rock-docs. Simply putting the last song of the night - and of their career - at the start of the film is a bold act of genius:

The Band, "Don't Do It"

While many are familiar with the show and its many high points, it's easy to forget that it was much more a once-in-a-lifetime concert. For the whopping price of $15, ticketholders were also treated to a full Thanksgiving feast and ballroom dancing before the show.

Dinner, dancing, plus The Band, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Muddy Waters, Eric Clapton, Van Morrison, Dr. John, Neil Diamond (!) Bob Dylan amd many others? Forget all the crap about frontier myths and Americana etc. - the Band were unmatched at delivering value for the dollar.

Not long ago, I saw a DVD of The Last Waltz on sale at Shop Rite for $9.99, right by the checkout counter. So skip the yams this year, and serve up an extra helping of The Band. In the meantime, here are a few of the greatest clips from the event. In the inimitable words of Rick Danko, Happy Thanksgiving.

The Band, "It Makes No Difference" (Dig the way Garth pops in for the sax solo)

Neil Young & the Band, "Helpless"

Muddy Waters & The Band, "Mannish Boy"

Neil Diamond & The Band, "Dry Your Eyes" (smoke 'em if you've got 'em)

Bob Dylan & The Band, "Forever Young"/"Baby Let Me Follow You Down"

The Band, "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down"

The Band w/Mavis Staples, "The Weight"



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Anonymous said...

It was Thanksgiving 1976, not 1977.