My sister had (and has) extremely good, diverse and often ahead-of-the-curve taste in music. As the younger sibling, I left music to her; I was largely indifferent to pop music until I discovered punk and New Wave. At last, something to call my own. (Only I really couldn’t, as my sister had been listening to the New York Dolls all along. Foiled again!)
Late, as always, I went to see “The Last Waltz” in 1979, a year after its release and, IIRC, three years after the concert it documented, a farewell performance by The Band. I became a fervent fan of a band I could never, would never see. Richard Manuel died, then Garth Hudson. (I think I have the order right.) Rick Danko. Now there are only two, Levon Helm and Robbie Robertson, and I don’t think they have much to do with each other.
I won’t lie. As a schoolgirl, I wasn’t impervious to Robertson’s charm. But I wasn’t so smitten that I didn’t see that he couldn’t sing for shit. Plus, I really resented the intrusion of Neil Diamond in “The Last Waltz,” which Robertson engineered. In the time of records, I used to dream about a technology that would allow me to skip, always and forever, Diamond’s version of “Dry Your Eyes.” Such a thing seemed pretty pie-in-the-sky.
Saturday night, I sat in a barn in Woodstock, NY and watched Levon Helm perform at one of his so-called Midnight Rambles. He sang “The Weight” and “Rag, Mama, Rag,” among many others. We didn’t get there early enough to get the best seats, but we had good-enough-seats, three rows back, which afforded an excellent view of Helm’s face as he played the drums and sang. As someone who came to The Band’s music when they were already broken up, this was not something I ever expected to see. And, true, it was just one man of five, but I wouldn’t dream of complaining. He appeared to be having the time of his life.I know I was.
Looking for memories of experiences that you never thought you would have, pinch-me moments when you couldn’t stop grinning for the miracle of it all.