Oh, god. Just read that Levon Helm is “in the final stages of his battle with cancer.” This is such a loss for the whole world of music. I’m especially crushed because he played here in Toronto fairly recently, and for some stupid reason (read: work), I didn’t go see him. At least I have The Last Waltz to remember him by. If you don’t know, this is Martin Scorsese’s love letter to The Band, documenting their final live performance. The Band invited some friends to play with them that night: friends like Bob Dylan, Emmylou Harris, Van Morrison, Eric Clapton, Muddy Waters … needless to say the performances are extraordinary.
I’ve watched this film many times and I never fail to shed a tear or three at the sound of Joni Mitchell’s mermaid voice as she harmonizes with an inordinately coked-out Neil Young on “Helpless.” I dare you to remain dry-eyed:
And here’s The Band doing Up On Cripple Creek. This — handsome, earthy, kinetic, and having the time of his life — is how I will always remember Levon:
Levon, I really do love you. Thanks for everything. I wish you peace and contentment on your journey.