When I was a junior in high school, somebody gave me a videotape of The Last Waltz, Martin Scorsese's 1978 documentary about The Band. It was revelatory—not only hadn't I ever heard The Band before, it was the first time I heard many of the other artists who appeared in the film, like Van Morrison and the Staples Singers. It changed the way I looked at music forever. If you haven't seen it, you should. As soon as you can. Seriously.
Today, Levon Helm died at age 71. He was The Band's drummer and lead singer, a soulful musician and by all accounts a real nice guy. Here's a clip from The Last Waltz of Helm doing "Ophelia":
And here's a clip of Helm doing the same song just this February. Stricken with cancer and obviously frail, Helm could still pick up the sticks and deliver the goods. Rest in peace.
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