Learn how YOU can appear in an upcoming “This Album is Me” feature here.
WHO: Courtney Marie Andrews
WHERE: Los Angeles, CA
ALBUM: The Band’s The Last Waltz (1978)
Although she has been making music and supporting acclaimed artists such as Jimmy Eat World and Damien Jurado for a decade now, the multi-dimensionally talented singer-songwriter-guitarist-producer Courtney Marie Andrews may not be a fixture on your musical radar just yet. But her latest stunner of an album, Honest Life, is well on its way to changing this.
Released stateside last summer and throughout Europe this past January, Honest Life has deservedly received widespread applause from critics and peers alike, with Ryan Adams accurately dubbing her “a phenomenal songwriter.” An inspired convergence of country, folk and rock influences, Honest Life resides somewhere between the musical ethos of Nashville and Laurel Canyon circa the early ‘70s, with its ten slide guitar and piano laden reveries that call to mind the songs of Emmylou Harris, Nanci Griffith, Joni Mitchell and Tift Merritt.
While on tour recently, Andrews graciously took time out of her busy schedule to contribute this latest installment of “This Album is Me,” in which she reflects upon an album that has influenced her both as an artist and as a music lover: The Band’s The Last Waltz (1978).
Courtney Marie Andrews: I know it seems unfair to choose an album like The Last Waltz, which is essentially a live compilation. But this record is a high water mark in music history, as it sums up all the greatness of the vibrant and colorful 60s and 70s.
As a songwriter, I get inspired by many styles, feelings, and ideas in songs. The Last Waltz offers a little bit of everything. It offers the coked-out gospel-like version of Neil Young's "Helpless." It offers the endlessly rockin' and feel good version of Van Morrison's "Caravan," then dips down into the moody and progressive rendition of Joni Mitchell's poetic "Coyote." In every tune the band backs each artist with tastefulness and passion. Only a truly great band can take a step back and serve each individual song with such an acute awareness. When Dr. John arrives, they boogie, and when Bob Dylan arrives they perform my favorite version of "I Shall Be Released."
When The Band performs their own songs, you can hear Rick Danko shake to get every note out, with a love so deep for music, you can feel it through the speakers. You can hear the thread of American music through all of it, and the inherent imprint that Levon Helm left on the band when they sing songs like "Up On Cripple Creek." Garth Hudson brings a genius for melody and playing unlike any player I've ever heard. Each individual member brings their unique personality, backed with a history of playing behind some of music's greatest artists. Although its original tracks were recorded live, they wanted it to be just right, so they came back into the studio to do overdubs―a move that a lot of modern artists can understand. But the magic of that performance is not lost. That magic seeps through every track.
As an artist I cannot begin to imagine the amount of emotions the members of The Band were feeling the night of what was supposed to be their last concert. It was quite the exit, and a beautiful reminder to the world of their importance as not only a brilliant backing band, but a brilliant group of songwriters and players in their own right.
This record left an impact on me in a big way, because I feel that same love for music that I feel The Band had. I understand that camaraderie for song, that shaking passion during a live performance, and that love for fellow songwriters and interpreters. The Last Waltz continues to remind me of all that is good about music: good songs, passionate playing, and dedication to your craft. In the book of music, there's a special bookmark placed in between the pages of The Last Waltz.
SEE Courtney Marie Andrews on tour | Dates