what i'm watching: more canadosity

Once again, Canada is everywhere, and I don't mean outside my window or under my feet.

Yesterday we tested the new audio connection on our DVD player (it's finally hooked up to the stereo). What else would we choose for a test run but "The Last Waltz"? It's our favourite music movie - and one of our favourite movies, period.

I have no idea how many times I've seen The Last Waltz, but it must be dozens, dating back to 1978, when I skipped school and snuck into the city with friends to see it on the big screen the week it opened, on to all those video rentals when Allan and I were still long-distance, to our first VCR. When we got our DVD player, it was the first disk we bought. We know every word of dialogue, every squeezed-out guitar note, every drug-dilated pupil, and of course, when to fast-forward (Neil Diamond!).

So after all that, did I really never notice, until yesterday, that in the opening interview sequence, Robbie Robertson is sitting in front of a Maple Leaf?

I must have noticed, a long time ago, and forgot.

(Yes of course I know Robbie Robertson is Canadian. Along with the rest of The Band, minus Levon Helm. And Neil Young, blah blah blah.)

Only moments after the Canadian flag suddenly appears in our favourite movie, I flip on the TV and hear Montgomery Burns say, "There's more than one way to get to Canada!" The Simpsons is in progress, and we watch the remainder of what turns out to be a famous episode: "Rx Express".

There are (of course) a zillion fan sites about this episode, but none of them mention this hilarious line. Homer, Grandpa and Montgomery Burns have snuck over the Canadian border to buy a plane-load of prescription drugs. After "Johnny Canuck" helps them obtain crates of medications, Homer asks the Canadian if there's anything he'd like from the US. "Gee," he replies, "I've always wanted to see the state execute a man with the IQ of a child!" Homer is gleeful. "No problem! In America we do that four times a week!"

* * * *

L-girl trivia: The first time I saw The Last Waltz, 17 years old and a music fanatic, when Joni Mitchell came on stage and kissed Robbie Robertson, I thought, Oh. My. God. I want to be... both of them? It was a revelation!

To this day, every time I see that scene I sigh and think (or say - much to the dismay of my poor partner who has to listen to the same drivel year after year), Ohhh, Joni kissing Robbie, who would I rather be...?

You see, I've always loved Canadians!


allan said...

Neil Diamond ... pee break!

allan said...

This is all they can muster for quotes?


The Last Waltz should be required viewing for anyone filming any band on any stage.

Besides showing the little bits of interplay between the musicians, there is a lack of jarring quick cuts, which are so often not timed to anything in the song.

We've seen several films of Rolling Stones concerts that could be improved immeasurably by simply editing the existing film to suit the song and performers. Is it really that hard?

Unknown said...

Adding it to my netflix queue right now.

Doug said...

yes I was a sound mixer for the "Band" and Dylan for about 3 years and to say they were a interesting 3 years is a under-statement...Dylan was what he is, but he has a much better sense of humor then people think, and he is no doubt a genius...Danko was nuts and by nuts I mean nuts, we were in a bar in Oklahoma City having a few pops and a few true blue red necks started giving us a hard time as we were folk loving, hippy, drug smoking no-gooders and to say Danko handled the sitution was a understatement he was a true character....Robertson tried to emulate Dylan,Cohen but he would have been better in my estimation to just be himself as he was a incredible musician and song-writer needed to create his own niche...but they were fun times, but also a self-destructive environment...one can't exist in it for long, that's why bands of all types just implode it's not the personality clashes it's the environment, pressures from music industry types...but Dylan was Dylan and no executive, no manager, no promoter ever told him what to do or when, he was, is something special....

laura k said...

What interesting years those must have been! I'm so envious.

The Band and Dylan's work with The Band, is among my favorite music on earth. Dylan is unquestionably a genius. I'm in such awe of him.

Redsock (my partner) collects Dylan bootlegs and undoubtedly has some questions to ask you... :)

One thing about watching The Last Waltz now is noticing how many people on that stage are gone, not even counting someone like Muddy who lived to a fairly old age. Some who are left - like Dylan and Neil Young - are true survivors.

Doug said...

you know what I was in awe of with Dylan..is that he wanted nothing that came his way, the trappings of stardom, he is what he is..people got into music for a variety of reasons the girls, the notoriety, the money, the status, and in a few cases the music, the creative outlet but Dylan did it for none of those reasons...truly...it's like if you asked Einstein to describe to you the process of what was behind the Theory of Relativity he would look at you and not be able to it was just him..it's like if you asked Dylan to describe the writing process behind one of his songs, he couldn't it was just there...he just wrote, sang, because that's who he was, is...at first I was in awe obviously but after I wasn't he is someone I believe that people should aspire to be not in his talent but rather in his nature...he's very shy, laid-back, keenly aware, and never wanted to be or ever asked to be a spokesman for anyone nevertheless a generation...sure I will answer what I can but all I know is I have never met a more prolific writer no matter what medium it's in, he's a inexhaustable source, it's amazing to me...they are wonderful memories both the good and the bad...

laura k said...

Very cool. As a writer, I have always been in flat-out awe of Dylan. He has written some of the great poetry in the American language - Whitman, Ginsberg, Dylan - grandfather, father, son.

To be able to do that and have such a deep understanding of the musical forms - blues, country, folk... Incredible.

And now, at his age, touring incessantly, the itinerant bluesman, keeping that tradition alive.

So Doug, do you still do sound? Are you still involved in the music biz?

allan said...

don't worry, i really don't have any questions ...

though i've been fascinated with stories about his way of working in the studio, not actually teaching the musicians the song, more like sketching out the basic idea then just playing.

it's amazing the performances he was able to get. (also how some of the stuff left in the can was way better than what he decided to release.)

was your time with dylan/band around the 74 tour?

(off topic: what the hell happened to dylan's voice? i find it hard to listen to the boots i have of the last 5-7 years because his voice is so raspy -- it's painful and jarring.)