every year on the wednesday before Thanksgiving, I watch The Last Waltz. I’ve been doing it since I was around 19 or 20, when everyone at my college would go home and I’d be kind of drifting. The Last Waltz became this really important marker for my autumn… The Last Waltz is a thanksgiving movie because the concert took place on thanksgiving, but it’s also really (at least to me) a film about the difficulties of working through long-held frustrations with people you’ve been tied to for so long that a love exists. It fits the season.
Every year around this time, I try to watch The Last Waltz at least once, in the way that people watch A Christmas Story or It’s a Wonderful Life whenever mid-December rolls around. I’ve come to regard The Last Waltz — and I preface this by offering sincere apologies to Planes, Trains, and Automobiles — as the greatest Thanksgiving movie ever. That’s not simply because The Last Waltz takes place on the holiday, but also because this film embodies what’s wonderful, horrible, hilarious, and moving about one of this country’s most sacred annual traditions, and how many of us manage to survive it. Other films have used Thanksgiving as a backdrop. But to me, The Last Waltz is Thanksgiving.
Me, I usually watch Son-In-Law, but after re-watching The Last Waltz in the studio this afternoon, I’m going to give it the headlining spot. Besides, I always need more of Van Morrison’s high kick in my life.
“Turn it up!”
Weird times we’re living in, but there’s plenty to be thankful for. My son Owen and I made something for y’all that we hope you’ll share with your loved ones. Download and print it here [PDF]
Here’s what Henry David Thoreau said 160 years ago, 12/6/1856, in a letter to his friend, Harrison Blake:
I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual. It is surprising how contented one can be with nothing definite…. My breath is sweet to me. O how I laugh when I think of my vague, indefinite riches. No run on my bank can drain it, for my wealth is not possession but enjoyment.
Happy Thanksgiving. Hope it is perpetual.
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