Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Ain't In It For My Health - A Documentary on The Band's Levon Helm

The recent excellent and popular rock documentaries The Story of Anvil, Iron Maiden Flight 666 and Rush Beyond the Lighted Stage all whetted my appetite for, well, MORE rock documentaries, dammit! I love behind the scenes access to bands who over the course of their careers have not granted much access - Rush is a great example.

So I was highly stoked to stumble across some PR for filmmaker Jacob Hatley's upcoming documentary on Levon Helm, cantankerous 70-year old drummer from The Band. Old Levon was the one guy in The Band who was from America (the rest were Canadian) and was from the deep south to boot. His autobiography This Wheel's On Fire is a fantastic read if you dig The Band. But it also tears the cover off of any image of that group as a bunch of pals.

The Band basically toured in relative obscurity for years in the 50s and 60s and of course broke through as Dylan's backing band and then on their own. The core lineup splintered with the 1976 concert/film The Last Waltz, which Levon hated. He saw it as a ploy between Band songwriter Robbie Robertson and Martin Scorsese to sell out to Hollywood.

In the interviews below, Hatley even tells a story of how Levon rejected a lifetime achievement award because of his 'demons from the past,' which I read as "I am not going to Hollywood to pick up some Goddamn bullshit award that has anything to do with Robertson." Despite the fact he still plays Robertson's songs every gig, but ahem...

Anyway, the movie is called Ain't In It for My Health, and it was screened at the Los Angeles Film Festival in June. The movie's Web site is at Ain't in It for My Health.

Hatley spent three years off and on living with Helm, shooting pretty much anything he wanted, editing along the way. The interviews below are from Levon's Web site. They are revealing regarding Levon and the film, but also give some great advice on filmmaking (mostly in the second part).

I have no idea when the rest of the world gets to see this film, but I can't wait.

1 comment:

Seano said...

I had no idea this was coming out. There you go with your finger on the pulse again. I'm in Levon's camp. Robertson has always been known as a first class prick.