Performances In The Last Waltz: A Ranking

It is the day before Thanksgiving which means tonight I will sit on my couch and watch The Last Waltz. It’s a tradition I’ve held for fourteen years, and — since Thanksgiving isn’t really a thing my family celebrates — it’s a way for me to enjoy my little corner of the season. This year, after a wonderful talk with Steve Hyden on the Celebration Rock Podcast (LISTEN HERE) about the film, I felt compelled to rank every performance, except for the instrumentals or monologues. Here is my completely correct take. Happy Thanksgiving, friends. If you have to go out tomorrow, please be kind to those working.

21. “Dry Your Eyes” (ft. Neil Diamond) aka The Only Bad Song Here (still can’t watch this without also whispering “how did Neil Diamond get here?”)

20. “The Genetic Method/Chest Fever” (I think this is very cool but also not very exciting)

19. “Stage Fright” (undeniable banger though)

18. “Such A Night” (ft. Dr. John)

17. “Further On Up The Road” (ft. Eric Clapton and the Endless Robbie Robertson Guitar Solo)

16. “Evangeline” (ft. Emmylou Harris, A LEGEND)

15. “Mystery Train” (ft. Paul Butterfield)

14. “Don’t Do It” (Mostly so high because this was like the 50th song they played of the night and it was still flames)

13. “Up On Cripple Creek”

12. “Forever Young” & “Baby, Let Me Follow You Down” (ft. Bob Dylan)

11. “Coyote” (ft. Joni Mitchell)

10. “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”

9. “Ophelia”

8. “I Shall Be Released” (ft. Pretty Much Everyone including Neil Diamond, unfortunately)

7. “Who Do You Love” (ft. Ronnie Hawkins & all of his theatrics)

6. “The Shape I’m In” (ft. Richard Manuel’s Stunning Blazer & Very Wide Collar)

5. “Mannish Boy” (ft. Muddy Waters — HONESTLY this performance would be #1 in like any other concert movie IMO)

4. “Caravan” (ft. Van Morrison & Van Morrison’s Purple Sequined LOOK & Van Morrison’s High Kicks)

3. “Helpless” (ft. Neil Young Out Of His Mind & Joni Mitchell Behind A Curtain)

2. “It Makes No Difference” (ft. My Tears)

  1. “The Weight” (ft. The Staple Singers & also my favorite moment of the film: at the very end of the performance, when the camera catches Mavis Staples whispering “beautiful…” as the music fades out)

As a bonus, here is my favorite Sad Scene in The Last Waltz, where Rick Danko gives Martin Scorsese a tour of his studio a few months after The Last Waltz ends, and plays him an early version of his solo song “Sip The Wine.”