Mavis Staples remembers Levon Helm and 'The Weight' | Rock Candy

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Mavis Staples remembers Levon Helm and 'The Weight'

Posted By on Thu, Jun 19, 2014 at 11:23 AM


Big thanks to Stephen Koch for pointing me in the direction of this New Yorker blog post, in which Mavis Staples recalls The Staple Singers' performance of "The Weight" in Martin Scorsese's 1978 "The Last Waltz," a last minute addition to the film as they figured the concert itself had been, in Helm's words, "too lily-white and missing something crucial.” It's a good excuse  to revisit the clip, and the highlight might be the interaction between Pops Staples and (Turkey Scratch native) Levon: 

Scorsese gave us all a break at one point, and everybody scattered. Levon was on his drums, still drumming. So Pops walked back there. “Hey, Levon!” Levon said, “Hey Roebuck!” And they talked a bit, and all of a sudden Pops realized that Levon was smokin’ two cigarettes. He said, “Levon, man, you’re smoking two cigarettes at a time?” And Levon held one of ’em up and said, “Oooooooh, Roebuck. You gotta try this one!” And that one was marijuana! Pops said, “Man, I don’t want none of that mess.” Daddy was so tickled. We talked about that forever.

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