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June 18, 2014 9:09 AM   Subscribe

Mavis Staples speaks about "The Weight" in "The Last Waltz." Elon Green asks Mavis Staples about her memories of the Staple Singers' unforgettable collaboration with The Band, captured on film in Martin Scorsese's "The Last Waltz."

You may know the tune best from this memorable performance earlier this year, previously featured here.

More Staple Singers live performances:
posted by Sheydem-tants (19 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite
And, 30+ years later, she remains pretty amazing; I especially like the cover of Wrote A Song For Everyone from "You Are Not Alone" (produced by Jeff Tweedy). Bonus acoustic version with Jeff Tweedy.
posted by jferg at 9:23 AM on June 18, 2014

That was lovely, thank you. Here's a nice one of Pops by himself.
posted by neroli at 9:24 AM on June 18, 2014

That version of The Weight is just perfect. Pops and Mavis give it the gospel feel it just begs for. And Rick Danko's turn is spectacular. I will never tire of hearing this cut.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 9:25 AM on June 18, 2014 [4 favorites]

As a rural Arkie like Levon, "The Weight" was simply part of the daily garage and front porch background noise growing up. I never thought to pay attention to it as a kid, but, dang, the older I get the more it gives me goosebumps. Going to visit my folks in about a week and this is a perfect way to start setting the tone.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 9:28 AM on June 18, 2014 [3 favorites]

As with many artists, you get a nice feel for what she's like in a room from her Tiny Desk appearance. "I'll Take You There" with one guy playing the guitar, for instance.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 9:49 AM on June 18, 2014 [3 favorites]

The Staple Singers have always been one of my favorites, and the chemistry between them and The Band was amazing. I just finished Mavis biography and it's full of great stuff.
posted by jonmc at 9:53 AM on June 18, 2014

Yeah that's one of the finest performances of The Weight and I'm pleased to read that Mavis Staples knew it was amazing at the time.
posted by Joey Michaels at 10:09 AM on June 18, 2014

Wilco, Nick Lowe & Mavis Staples rehearse "The Weight" From some earlier metafilter thread. I always love rewatching it.

And that Tiny Desk is awesome. Thanks!
posted by DigDoug at 10:19 AM on June 18, 2014

Whoever did the lighting for that was a genius!

Thanks for the post...
posted by HuronBob at 10:21 AM on June 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Mavis' recent live album on Anti, Live: Hope at the Hideout will MELT YOUR FACE. It's so amazingly fantastic, in song selection, in sound quality, in performance, just... everything. I wish I could find the live version of "Why Am I Treated So Bad?" with the mind-blowingly nasty Rick Holmstrom guitar solo, but I can't find it online right now, so just check out this version of Wade in the Water instead.

It's not some mere "she's getting older, but she's still got it" record. No, no, no. It's frigging electric. Highest recommendation.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:59 AM on June 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

Mavis' verse the first time I watched The Last Waltz was one of those Life's Perfect Moments for me.
posted by sourwookie at 12:11 PM on June 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Mavis Staples is a national treasure. I saw her at the Beale Street Music Festival last year, and she absolutely killed it. There's a lot of great history of the Staples Singers and Mavis at the Stax Museum , which is a must if you ever get to Memphis.
posted by vibrotronica at 12:57 PM on June 18, 2014

And don't forget I'll Take You There...
posted by y2karl at 1:05 PM on June 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

I don't really care for meeting famous people but Mavis Staples has always been on the short list of "people I want to jam/chill with"

Also The Weight, particularly the version from The Last Waltz is REQUIRED READING in my house. It is my favorite singing song of all time.
posted by Doleful Creature at 1:53 PM on June 18, 2014

Man, that song is indestructible. I started watching the Jimmy Fallon & The Muppets version out of curiosity, and the fucking thing choked me up just like it always does. Its greatness is as indescribable and undeniable as that of Krazy Kat. What a song!
posted by languagehat at 3:29 PM on June 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

DirtyOldTown, thanks for the Hope at the Hideout tip. Just listening to it on Spotify and it's awesome.

For another great take on the Weight, I like Aretha's version featuring Duane Allman.
posted by freecellwizard at 5:18 PM on June 18, 2014

Mavis is just seventeen shades of awesome. That interview is a great find.

And languagehat - I'm sure you know Jimmy is from Saugerties, NY just up the road from Woodstock where Levon and crew had a place. Jimmy's farewell to his Late Night gig that he performed with The Muppets was choreographed tightly (down to the camera angles) as a tribute to Levon.

I'm off to watch The Last Waltz yet again. Wonderful stuff.

Thanks Internet!
posted by Nick Verstayne at 5:25 PM on June 18, 2014

Awesome, and McNulty on guitar as well.
posted by colie at 4:59 AM on June 19, 2014

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