Intimate Music: A History of the Idea of Chamber Music

By Neil Minturn; Micheal J. Budds | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 3
A Map of The Last Waltz

This book is a record of a pleasure trip. If it were a record of a
solemn scientific expedition, it would have about it that gravity,
that profundity, and that impressive incomprehensibility which
are so proper to works of that kind, and withal so attractive. Yet
notwithstanding it is only a record of a picnic, it has a purpose,
which is to suggest to the reader how he would be likely to see
Europe and the East if he looked at them with his own eyes
instead of the eyes of those who traveled in those countries
before him. I make small pretense of showing anyone how he
ought to look at objects of interest beyond the sea—other books
do that, and therefore, even if I were competent to do it, there is
no need.

I offer no apologies for any departures from the usual style of
travel writing that may be charged against me—for I think I have
seen with impartial eyes, and I am sure I have written at least
honestly, whether wisely or not.

Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad (1869), v.

In this chapter, I chart The Last Waltz systematically in order to create a map; I also enter the discussion more personally and directly than has been the case in my first two chapters. In particular, I will not be striving to maintain a scholarly distance in my comments. Some sections of the film will receive more detailed attention; others, less. My purpose is to offer the reader/viewer my perspective and interpretation with the aim of enriching the listening and viewing experiences.

Like a musical composition, The Last Waltz is articulated by cadences and shaped by different kinds of pacing. During the following discussion, I will explain my impression of how smaller parts form larger ones as well as how the forward flow is braked and pushed. The Table of Organization, provided as Example 3.1, displays The Last Waltz as a series of interview segments, concert segments, and studio segments, each of which I have also titled and numbered. The beginning and the ending of the film, including credits, fall outside this plan and are shown separately on the Table of Organization. In the concert segments, the album on which a song was originally released is given in brackets following its title. Listed by their title alone are albums by The Band.

The Last Waltz grew out of Robbie Robertson’s idea for marking the dissolution of The Band in the spirit of a raucous and triumphant homecoming. The original date had been scheduled for Thanksgiving

-63-

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