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(Credit: Peabody Awards)

Music

When Robbie Robertson showed Martin Scorsese the importance of Van Morrison

1980 saw the release of one of the most eye-opening documentaries ever made, Movies Are My Life: A Profile on Martin Scorsese. The first documentary to have ever been made on the legendary auteur, it took a deep dive into how the Taxi Driver mastermind was perceived by his colleagues, and how he viewed himself, painting a candid image of a now-iconic filmmaker.

The film followed Scorsese in 1977 whilst he was at the post-production stage for his musical New York, New York and at the editing stages of The Band’s farewell concert film, The Last Waltz. Directed by Peter Hayden, it saw Scorsese talk about his youth, the writing behind some of his most iconic lead characters, and his directorial style. It’s an eye-opening look into the unrelenting world of Martin Scorsese and pictures him to be what we all know he is; a lovely, thoughtful man. 

Another brilliant part of the film is the variety of talking heads segments there are. Brian De Palma, Mardik Martin, Jay Cocks and even his mentor, the pioneering Josh Cassavetes, all weigh in on his career up until that point. There’s also takes from a young Jodie Foster, Liza Minnelli, and Scorsese’s frequent collaborator, the unmistakable Robert De Niro

One of the most revealing aspects of the documentary is the opening part, a scene that watches Scorsese hanging out with The Band’s frontman, Robbie Robertson. A glorious piece of film, it shows a very drunken and seemingly introspective Robertson play Scorsese, Hayden and an unknown woman the 1971 classic ‘Tupelo Honey’ by Northern Irish curmudgeon Van Morrison. 

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The scene sees Robertson discuss his relationship with Scorsese and why he picked the director to helm The Last Waltzadmitting that Scorsese was a “punk” like the rest of The Band, and understood their music. Concluding the segment, the drunken Roberston says: “I wanna play you a song before we knock off here. This song… has got nothing to do with anything, but you’ll know exactly what we mean, this is by Van the man.”

As the dulcet tones of Morrison permeate the room, everyone on camera seems to be enjoying a heartfelt moment. Scorsese happily tips his head back and enjoys the soft rock staple, and we see the drunken Robertson lean on the wall for some support and close his eyes as the song reaches its emotive climax. 

The scene is perhaps the most candid reflection of Scorsese that we’ve ever seen, showing him kicking back to one of Van Morrison’s early classics. It also shows that he and Robertson have some form of deep understanding, even if the far-gone Robertson gives Scorsese, Hayden and the woman a hard time trying not to laugh.

Watch the brilliant clip below.