The Friday Morning Listen: The Band – The Last Waltz (1978)

Share this:

Yesterday, I received a message from an old high school friend. We shared a lot of great times, but one of the greatest was the afternoon we spent at Railroad Square Cinema in Waterville, Maine, watching Martin Scorsese’s concert film The Last Waltz.

While it’s pretty much impossible to overstate the importance of the stars who made appearances at the Band’s final show, what was held in sharp relief was the bond between them all. So while my young ears heard a lot of great music, the rest of me — the budding music nerd — saw that the power of music extends far beyond the realm of sound.

Eric knew that too, with his message linking all the way back to 1978 … both of us saddened by the passing of Levon Helm.

Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate the Band not only for their wonderful music but for the fact that they started me down the path of the musical eclectic. Did I love Emmylou Harris, the Staples Singers, and Van Morrison back then? No, I did not. But the music passed through me with a resonance that was undeniable.

The thing I loved most about Levon Helm — above his obvious talent and wide-ranging sonic interests — was his own pure love of the music. Whether he was playing the mandolin and singing during “Evangeline,” or sitting at the kit for another rendition “The Weight,” you could almost see that river of musical history passing through him. This is why it has always felt to me like Levon was my friend, and that I’ve known him forever.

So thanks, Levon: Thanks for the songs, your generosity, and your gentle spirit. And thanks for pointing out that music isn’t just sound; there’s people in there too.

Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski is a writer and music obsessive based out of the woods of central New Hampshire. A past contributor to Jazz.com, Blogcritics.org and Salon, he originated several of our weekly features including the Friday Morning Listen, (Cross the) Heartland, WTF! Wednesday, and Sparks Fly on E Street. Follow him on Twitter: @msaleski. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Mark Saleski
Share this:
Close