By 1976 The Band were on their last legs, after more than sixteen years of non-stop touring the stresses of the road had taken their toll. The members agreed to one last show, to be played on Thanksgiving 1976 at the famed Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco. The show would feature several notable guest appearances by Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Emmylou Harris, Dr. John, Muddy Waters, Ringo Starr, Ronnie Hawkins, and Eric Clapton amongst others. I have always found this ironic, given that Rock and Roll is big business today with the attendant merchandising and multi-media cash cow to feed, that a group like The Band that still had tremendous commercial appeal would just hang it up. Times were less cynical I suppose.
— The Selvedge Yard on The Band’s The Last Waltz
Though I’m a fan of The Band and Scorsese, I think The Selvedge Yard is giving far too much credit to Robertson & Co. for being zen. The famously self-important Robbie broke up the band and  — though it’s a hoot to watch — The Last Waltz has always seemed like a clear act of auto-hagiographical aggrandizement to me. That’s not meant to take anything away from the musicianship of the group — who were at the height of their powers — but to forget the massive egos behind these humble songs, especially at this period in the band’s career, is akin to forgetting just how expensive that set of china in your parent’s cabinet was upon purchase while admiring its craftmanship as you lament the fact that the set doesn’t get pulled out nearly enough.

By 1976 The Band were on their last legs, after more than sixteen years of non-stop touring the stresses of the road had taken their toll. The members agreed to one last show, to be played on Thanksgiving 1976 at the famed Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco. The show would feature several notable guest appearances by Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Emmylou Harris, Dr. John, Muddy Waters, Ringo Starr, Ronnie Hawkins, and Eric Clapton amongst others. I have always found this ironic, given that Rock and Roll is big business today with the attendant merchandising and multi-media cash cow to feed, that a group like The Band that still had tremendous commercial appeal would just hang it up. Times were less cynical I suppose.

The Selvedge Yard on The Band’s The Last Waltz

Though I’m a fan of The Band and Scorsese, I think The Selvedge Yard is giving far too much credit to Robertson & Co. for being zen. The famously self-important Robbie broke up the band and — though it’s a hoot to watch — The Last Waltz has always seemed like a clear act of auto-hagiographical aggrandizement to me. That’s not meant to take anything away from the musicianship of the group — who were at the height of their powers — but to forget the massive egos behind these humble songs, especially at this period in the band’s career, is akin to forgetting just how expensive that set of china in your parent’s cabinet was upon purchase while admiring its craftmanship as you lament the fact that the set doesn’t get pulled out nearly enough.

Too Much of Nothingby Bob Dylan, 1967 
Now, too much of nothingCan make a man feel ill at easeOne man’s temper might riseWhile another man’s temper might freezeIn the day of confessionWe cannot mock a soulOh, when there’s too much of nothingNo one has control
Say hello to ValerieSay hello to VivianSend them all my salaryOn the waters of oblivion
Too much of nothingCan make a man abuse a kingHe can walk the streets and boast like mostBut he wouldn’t know a thingNow, it’s all been done beforeIt’s all been written in the bookBut when there’s too much of nothingNobody should look
Say hello to ValerieSay hello to VivianSend them all my salaryOn the waters of oblivion
Too much of nothingCan turn a man into a liarIt can cause one man to sleep on nailsAnd another man to eat fireEv’rybody’s doin’ somethin’I heard it in a dreamBut when there’s too much of nothingIt just makes a fella mean
Say hello to ValerieSay hello to VivianSend them all my salaryOn the waters of oblivion
Photo: Robbie Robertson, Michael McClure, Bob Dylan, Allen Ginsberg, 1965.
(photo via anneyhall : magnificentruin)

Too Much of Nothing
by Bob Dylan, 1967 

Now, too much of nothing
Can make a man feel ill at ease
One man’s temper might rise
While another man’s temper might freeze
In the day of confession
We cannot mock a soul
Oh, when there’s too much of nothing
No one has control

Say hello to Valerie
Say hello to Vivian
Send them all my salary
On the waters of oblivion

Too much of nothing
Can make a man abuse a king
He can walk the streets and boast like most
But he wouldn’t know a thing
Now, it’s all been done before
It’s all been written in the book
But when there’s too much of nothing
Nobody should look

Say hello to Valerie
Say hello to Vivian
Send them all my salary
On the waters of oblivion

Too much of nothing
Can turn a man into a liar
It can cause one man to sleep on nails
And another man to eat fire
Ev’rybody’s doin’ somethin’
I heard it in a dream
But when there’s too much of nothing
It just makes a fella mean

Say hello to Valerie
Say hello to Vivian
Send them all my salary
On the waters of oblivion

Photo: Robbie Robertson, Michael McClure, Bob Dylan, Allen Ginsberg, 1965.

(photo via anneyhall : magnificentruin)