Sunday, November 23, 2008

Let's Waltz This Thanksgiving

While there isn't that many songs associated with the Thanksgiving holiday aside from Arlo Guthrie's "Alice's Restaurant" and Adam Sandler's "Thanksgiving Song", there is one very important concert that took place on Thanksgiving Day in 1976. It was the "farewell" performance of The Band.

The Band (Robbie Robertson, Richard Manuel, Garth Hudson, Rick Danko Levon Helm) started out in 1958 as the backing band of rockabilly singer Ronnie Hawkins. After five years, they then became the backing band for Bob Dylan on his famous 1965-1966 world tour. By 1968, The Band released their debut album (Music from Big Pink) to critical acclaim. After seven albums and constantly being on the road, The Band decided to call it quits. They would perform one last concert that would feature friends and special guests to perform along side The Band. This concert was filmed and recorded by Oscar-winning director Martin Scorsesse as a documentary of The Band's final show.

The show took place on November 25, 1976 (Thanksgiving Day) at 5:00 p.m. 5,000 fans were treated to a turkey dinner and ballroom dancing before The Band took the stage at about 9:00 p.m. They began the evening with one of their most popular songs, "Up On Cripple Creek". Starting with Ronnie Hawkins, friends and fellow musicians, took the stage to share the spotlight with The Band, from blues legend Muddy Waters to Eric Clapton to finally Bob Dylan. The concert finally ended with an encore performance of "Don't Do It" at 2:15 a.m.

While this would be the final performance given by the original members of The Band, they would release 3 more albums made up of different members. This year, 2008, is the 30th Anniversary of the release of this historic film and accompanying soundtrack. The film is hailed as one of the greatest concert films of all-time and the soundtrack isn't too far behind.

So after the Thanksgiving feast has been eaten, the dishes washed, and your just waking up from your nap and realizing that the football game is over, pop in the "Special Edition" DVD of The Last Waltz. Also, don't forget, as the beginning title card says, "This film should be played loud!"

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