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Robbie Robertson: In Tribute

1943 - 2023

The rock 'n' roll world lost a true legend with the passing of Robbie Robertson. But we will always be left with his musical legacy.  And fortunately there is also documentary and movie  evidence evidence of his talents.  Here's where to find much of the best of it and the list will grow as I continue to find more.  

Once Were Brothers Documentary

Once Were Brothers

While Robertson, as the only surviving member aside from Garth Hudson, features most prominently in this excellent 2019 documentary i tells the story of every member starting at their very beginning days, how they came together and how they broke apart.   Unlike The Last Waltz this documentary doesn't gloss over the conflict that brought an end to The Band.  What’s unfortunate is with Levon Helm, Rick Danko and Richard Manuel having passed and Garth Hudson being fairly aversive to the public eye what we’re left with is the story as seen from Robertson’s point of view.  What was unnecessary was the inclusion of Robertson’s ex-wife as one of those giving their perspective.   That said, this film is totally worth any music fan’s time and it'll have you breaking out all your old band albums and listening to them for the next two weeks. 

It's not presently available to stream on any of the major services but it is available for free if you have Xumo.  Or you can rent it $.99 from Amazon prime or Apple TV+. It's also available for $2.99 from Redbox's streaming service as well as VUDU.  

Carny Robbie Robertson, Gary Busey, Jodie Foster

Carny (1980)

 This is a movie that did not get the press it deserved when it came out in 1980.  Granted it's a bit dated in the way it tells the story and all the parts don't always fit together  but it's a really interesting look, albeit a bit overdramatized, at the life of carnival workers.   And Robertson as Patch, the Carnival's world weary fixer, absolutely steals the movie from costars Gary Busey and Jodie Foster.  Robertson is also one of the film's three credited writers as well as composing much of the score.  
Also of interest is David Causey and Randall Bramblett of the Allman Brother's offshoot band Seal Level make cameos as members of the carnivals band and back up to Harold, "the fat man" who p
lays a song at a late night party. It's one of the film's highlights.

But the best part is it's free to watch in its entirety on YouTube so don't miss out!

History of Rock Music In 500 Songs

A History of Rock Music in 500 Songs
Episode 167: "The Weight"

 Rock historian Andrew Hickey's podcast is second to none and a must listen for all music fans, especially rock 'n' roll fans. This is his most recent episode and by sheer coincidence came within days of Robertson's death. This is an oral history of the coming together of the band up until the Music From the Big Pink LP.   Hickey is unbiased,  strives for accuracy and manages to tell his stories in great detail without weighing the listener down in useless minutia .  The episode is almost 2 hours long and is worth every minute.  He manages to find an old interview in which Robertson and explains the meaning behind the song, "The Weight".  Hickey makes his entire transcript available for every episode as well as providing links to full versions of the songs he excerpted.  

Broken Record Podcast Robbie Robertson

The Broken Record Podcast
Robbie Robertson: Leader of The Band and Architect of Shangri La

In this episode of The Broken Record Podcast all four of the Podcast’s hosts Rick Rubin, Malcolm Gladwell, Justin Richmond and Bruce Headlam sit down with Robbie Robertson and ask him about his career as a songwriter and his time in the band. It’s a great follow up to Andrew Hickey’s episode on “The Weight” because instead of hearing it told in as a story you’re hearing it from the perspective of Robbie Robertson himself.  And it’s interesting how he saw the events, and how he saw himself personally in the midst of all that was happening, as opposed to how others saw him being part of these events.  

The Last Waltz

The Last Waltz (1978)

Martin Scorsese’s documentation of the bands last public performance remains one of the most lauded concert movies and rock documentaries ever made despite some elements of the narrative coming under fire.   As years went on, and more details of The Band’s demise came to light, Scorsese received criticism for presenting the breakup as having been much more agreeable than history has shown to be the case.  Still and all it remains a near flawless film documentation one of the most amazing concerts ever put on. So many different performers, so many different styles, so many different songs. It speaks volumes to the musicianship of The Band as a whole.  


We’ve probably all seen this one and have the soundtrack to boot but it's always worth another watch.  "The Last Waltz" is currently streaming on fuboTV, MGM+, the Roku Premium Channel, or for free with ads on Tubi TV and Pluto TV.

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