Band documentary - history belongs to the victors?

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by klasher, Sep 13, 2019.

  1. klasher

    klasher Tele-Holic

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    I'm a Robertson fan, but having read Levon's autobiography, it's really hard for me to think about the upcoming documentary and think it'll be anything other than a Robbie rewrite of history, portraying himself in the best light of course. I could be totally wrong, and I hope I am.
     
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  2. backporchmusic

    backporchmusic Friend of Leo's

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    Haven't read the Levon bio yet, looking forward to it. I read Robertson's and it was a good read overall, but tough to concentrate at times, what with all the background noise from Robbie patting himself on the back. Loudly. And constantly.
     
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  3. maxvintage

    maxvintage Friend of Leo's

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    The Robertson book was frustrating. He's written some great songs, but he is utterly devoid on any insight about anybody. There are accounts of him partying, and getting laid but he has nothing interesting to say about any of it. There’s lots of familiar stuff about the blues and the south that you’ve heard before. He has no special insights into either thing, or at least can’t convey it in prose: it’s trite. There’s a ton of that celebrity talk, where every famous person is your friend: “my friend so and so.” You know the way celebrities talk about each other? There’s a lot of that. It’s part of what seems superficial about the book. There’s a lot of bob Dylan in the book, but you won’t come away with any insights into Bob Dylan. Or Ronnie Hawkins, or anybody else. Great songwriter, terrible writer.

    The Levon book is very different--spicey where the robbie book is bland, more self critical , more barbed. Levon is scathing about Scorcese and about Dylan, he thinks they're weird and pretentious and full of ****, whereas Robbie is all "my famous friends."

    You come away with a strong sense that Levon really loves music and was never happier than when he was on the road in the greatest bar band you ever heard. He liked to party, he liked women, he didn't really care too much about the rest. He comes across as a guy you'd enjoy hanging out with. Robbie would be scanning the room looking for someone more famous to talk to.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2019
  4. nojazzhere

    nojazzhere Poster Extraordinaire

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    Haven't read either one, but as an "ignorant" admirer of The Band, I tend to believe every one of the members were integral to the wonderful sound. Maybe not Everyone on Every tune, but over all enough that it just wouldn't have been as special without them all.
    As far as any documentary, I'll just wait and see.
    edit....BTW I've just ordered both Robbie's and Levon's books from Amazon. Thanks to those who suggested them.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2019
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  5. Larry F

    Larry F Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    In his autobio, Dylan described a scene with an obsequious Robertson that took place after the first British tour. Driving along, out of the blue Robertson asks Dylan, "So, where do you think you'll take it now?" He didn't reply.
     
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  6. Jim622

    Jim622 Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I pretty much have the same take as MaxV. I am a big fan. The talent each member of that band was incredible.There is also no denying Robertson's playing and songwriting and his immense contributions to The Bands legacy. I read Testimony and as said, there was a lot of patting himself on the back and namedropping. I got the idea a lot of The Bands issue came from what seemed to me, was Robbie's being star struck, by first Dylan and then the whole Hollywood scene. He was also easily the most business minded and sometimes cutthroat about it. I then thought I needed to read Levons book. His book was easily the better, and he definitely seemed a much humbler man, more just wanting to play the music and hurt by the way a a dream they all shared fell apart.
     
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  7. elihu

    elihu Poster Extraordinaire

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    I've always had the impression that Levon was the real deal...he didn't put on airs and was down to earth for the most part.
    Maybe it was interviews like this.

     
  8. klasher

    klasher Tele-Holic

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    This made me laugh.
     
  9. Vanzant

    Vanzant Tele-Afflicted

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    I love the band, and used to really like Robbie Robertson for his role in the band, but I have to admit that after reading Levon’s book I can’t help but cringe every time I watch the last waltz and see Robbie hamming it up for the camera. He played it all wrong with his band of brothers and left Levon and the others high and dry... not a Robertson fan anymore unfortunately.

    Still love the band though, Richard’s voice, Rick’s voice, and of course Levon’s voice, leave the greatest mark on their legacy and overall sound, not Robertson’s guitar playing. However, one can’t deny his songwriting, but Levon and the others sold those songs to us. Robertson should have stuck with the one for all and all for one mentality, now he’s stuck with this legacy of screwing over his bandmates who we all love...even Garth got the shaft...of course this is just my opinion. Cheers.
     
  10. Fearnot

    Fearnot Friend of Leo's

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    Robertson is a troubling figure to me; I want to respect the guy for his place in The Band, but by all accounts - except his, of course - he took credit for way more than he was actually responsible for. I mean, The Last Waltz really ended up just being an overblown celebration of his leaving the group. They didn't want to quit touring, he did. And sure enough, they were back on the road and making records without him a few years later. And given that Robertson's solo output in the 40 years since has been remarkably unremarkable, I suspect he's not quite the genius he'd have us believe he is.

    But now that all the rest of The Band (except Hudson) are gone, Robertson is sending this on the road. If he's actually part of the tour - which isn't clear - that would be sad irony indeed.

    https://www.rollingstone.com/music/...-nelson-jamey-johnson-last-waltz-tour-879769/
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2019
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  11. backporchmusic

    backporchmusic Friend of Leo's

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    Also, Robertson's 'brilliance' was really about a two-three year run. The first two albums are great, with rapidly diminishing returns after that. They had come to recording after several years spent around Dylan--I'm sure that constant inspiration and example helped to pull the best out of him.

    But really, yeah, two good albums and a few good songs after that. If it weren't for the immense talent of all the members they'd likely be more of a footnote.
     
  12. warrent

    warrent Friend of Leo's

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    I don't think you can blame Robbie for having his own version of the Band's story. Yes the documentary is Robbie's version it was based on his book and it includes interviews from those who side with him.
    And I don't think you can blame everything that happened with the Band on Robbie just because he preferred Hollywood to playing endless nights on the road addicted to heroin and alcohol.
    These threads always devolve in to Robbie bashing so let the fun begin;)
     
  13. Jim622

    Jim622 Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I don't intend to bash. I thought his debut solo album was great and I have a few of his others. I am a fan. I think his Clairvoyant album has some really good tunes. I also think he screwed the other members of The Band pretty thoroughly. I seen The Band in Key West with Jim Weider, who filled his shoes very well. I guess it was around '87. I would have liked to have seen them with R.R., but they were great despite his absence. I am grateful to be able to say I seen them live. I thought it was great they went on playing without him.
     
  14. backporchmusic

    backporchmusic Friend of Leo's

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    Have you read his bio? We're discussing that as much as anything else here.


    And this thread has done one great thing--led me to discover this pic of Dylan playing an SG Junior.

    [​IMG]
     
  15. kLyon

    kLyon Tele-Meister

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    I never met Robbie (though I do know both of his daughters; they're really nice people and I'd hate to say anything disrespectful to their family) but I always felt that if any band should have had some kind of publishing split, it was The Band (and, really they all should: the songwriter still makes more money, but everybody else has at least some royalty stream - think The Doors, U2, among others. It's the right thing to do, as far as I'm concerned: everybody is responsible for The Sound of a band, and wouldn't you want your friends to do well?). I had the good fortune to spend an evening playing and hanging with Levon, he was a great guy and it was one my life's musical highlights. We never talked about his business or The Band (it was a party, and in around 1989, so maybe before things got nasty...)
    And that band had a Sound. Take away the voices and the playing and The Weight would be just another song, and one that doesn't make much sense. Levon gave those lyrics a timeless heft that wasn't in them otherwise. (Fanny is Robbie's older daughter. So the song is about going to Nazareth, PA and carrying something that is too heavy for his, at the time, very young daughter? But when I heard it for the first time at around 13, it seemed epic... ))
    Not to denigrate Robbie; he's a fine artist. But the business could have been better.
     
  16. RodeoTex

    RodeoTex Poster Extraordinaire

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    I really love musician's bios. Even artists I don't necessarily care for from my late dad's collection (Ernest Tubb, Hank Snow, etc.) Plus all the artists I really love: Keith, Ronnie, Rod, Mick Fleetwood, etc.
    Never disappointed until I picked Chrissie Hynde's bio. POS. Had to force myself to finish it.
    I have been lately interested in the Band, thought of ordering the movie. Won't be doing that now, won't be reading the book either.

    However, I did just receive Buddy Guy's bio. That looks promising.
    Sorry for all the derails.
     
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  17. HotRodSteve

    HotRodSteve Friend of Leo's

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    I heard they unplugged Robertson's mike during the Last Waltz.
     
  18. Geoff738

    Geoff738 Poster Extraordinaire

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    I like Robbie and think he is a good storyteller. But he does come across as a bit of a douche sometimes.

    I was told Fanny was the name of a horse on the farm next to the Dankos when they were boys in the 60s. By the grandson of the horses owner. Whether the reference in the song is about that horse? Regardless apparently the Danko boys were a bit wild. But boy do I love Rick’s voice.

    Cheers,
    Geoff
     
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  19. Vanzant

    Vanzant Tele-Afflicted

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    Yeah, Robbie is sort of a douche
     
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  20. jsnwhite619

    jsnwhite619 Friend of Leo's

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    I'm not a Lukas Nelson fan, but my wife & I saw the first run of this a couple years ago with Warren Haynes and Jamey Johnson and it was incredible. I'm a fan of both but never expected to see them together on stage. I'd suggest anyone who is a fan of the band checking it out if they come close to you town.
     
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