The Celebration Rock Podcast’s Second Annual ‘Last Waltz’ Holiday Special

Cultural Critic
11.19.18

Getty Image / Warner Bros.

Back in 2016, I wrote a column in which I declared that The Last Waltz is the best Thanksgiving movie. “It affirms the faith in the power of ritual to heal — at least temporarily — whatever is awkward or unresolved or plain broken about your familial bonds,” I wrote. “Sometimes, that belief is just enough to make things okay for a little while.” Last year, I invited friend of the pod Hanif Abdurraqib to revisit the film with me, and marvel at the majesty of Van Morrison’s purple suit and Robbie Robertson’s ill-considered gold-plated guitar.

This Thanksgiving, I decided to keep the tradition going, firing up The Last Waltz once more with another friend of the pod, Steve Gorman. As the drummer of the Black Crowes, he watched the movie repeatedly on tour buses throughout the ’90s, and over time came to recognize the weariness on the faces of The Band after years and years of touring. We talked about the unspoken resentments that linger in the film’s interview sequences, as well as the subtle power of The Band’s performances, which have not been diluted by the passage of time or the many, many rewatches.

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