There was a time, not long ago (let's call it my twenties) when some friends and I would get together on the first Friday of September to watch The Last Waltz, Martin Scorsese's rock film about The Band's last concert at Winterland Ballroom (San Francisco - Thanksgiving night 1976). It was an honored tradition that heralded the beginning of fall, which in so many ways is the revered season of the South.
If you've never seen the film, then God help you... watch it tonight. But if it's just been a while, as it's been for me, then pull it together and watch it again soon. There's something celebratory in each of the acts - the best illustration of this in my opinion is Van the Man Morrison's Caravan... purple jumpsuit and all, he turns "Justa-One-More-Time" into justa-eight-more-times - though the finality of the evening lends itself more to a reflective meaningfulness.
That meaningfulness added weight yesterday with the passing of Levon Helm, The Band's lead singer, who on that night in 1976 performed for the last time "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down." An end-of-days song about the pain and suffering in Americana land. So much passion in his voice, the man from Turkey Scratch, Arkansas.
The Last Waltz is a way for me to associate with my youth, and reminds me how important it is to hold on to the traditions we create as young men. Best we can, of course, for we're busier now, more spread out, which might just make it all the more important. You can bet I'll be watching again soon, bourbon in hand, cursing those damn yankees.