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BBC2: Walk On By: After the Goldrush, 21 April 2001

Transcript/summary from TV Broadcast

[Peter Viney]  by Peter Viney

BBC2's history of the rock song devotes an episode to the 70s. All the songs are extracts only unfortunately.

It starts out with The Band - Up On Cripple Creek (1969 film), and The Weight (Woodstock), with a new interview with Robbie Robertson. Ben Fong-Torres of Rolling Stone and Barney Hoskyns comment. Robbie does mention the usual favourites - the clubhouse effect and so on, but we don't get the booing anecdote this time.

Robbie Robertson:
Nobody said now what we're gonna do here is we're gonna change everything and we're gonna play a complete different way to what we did before. Nobody ever spoke those words. We just did it naturally. It's what happened.

It was ? separating yourself from the trendiness and what was happening. I just wanted to do something that I thought was real. We were taking great pride in our musicality and the music was coming out of us in a combination of all of the above (sic- he means all of the following): There was gospel flavour. Mountain music. There was Delta music. There was music that I grew up in from the reservation. There was all these things. I just kept throwing more stuff into the pot, mixing a big gumbo.

The soundtrack goes into Unfaithful Servant.

The programme then runs through the Sweetheart of the Rodeo era Byrds with Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman, CSN with Dave Crosby ('I was less than easy to deal with and Roger McGuinn said the words he'll have to live with forever, "We'll do better without you."'), Neil Young (After The Goldrush) and The Grateful Dead (10 seconds of Dark Star, Ripple)- an interview with Jerry Garcia and also an interview and a good solo Ripple from Robert Hunter. Then inexplicably (the link is mellowness, I suspect) Bill Withers talking with Ain't No Sunshine and Lean On Me, and on through America (Horse With No Name) to the Flying Burritos (Sin City) and The Eagles (Take It Easy). But then they finish by returning to the Robbie Robertson interview and the 1969 King Harvest followed by The Last Waltz version of The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.

Narrator (Clive Owen)
The Band achieved something else. They opened a forgotten treasure trove of American music. A legacy which would enrich pop culture for years to come. Guided by their instincts alone, they returned the song to its rightful place at the very centre of popular music.

Robbie Robertson
You know I've never really had a big strategy in mind. I just kind of followed the music always. And when I had something to write about, something to express, that was the best time to make a record. There was no tricks. This was all about just writing songs that would have that timeless quality. This was like OK, this is really who we are. Here it is. No frills, no tricks, no nothing. It's the real shit. And that was as much as any of us wanted out of the music.

The last words are: Narrator (Clive Owen)
But the Band stayed true to their beliefs. When they felt they had run their course, they ended both the group, and the era with The Last Waltz. Unlike so many others, above all, The Band quit when they were on top, content to leave a memory that was almost as perfect as their songs.

Well, not exactly true since 1983 but the heart's in the right place.

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