On the 40th anniversary of The Band’s legendary The Last Waltz concert, Robbie Robertson tells his own story of the band that changed music history, his extraordinary personal journey, and his creative friendships with some of the greatest artists of the last half-century.
Obviously, Robertson is getting the last word with this long book. And yet his strong point of view is offset by the tenderness he shows, and his stress on his own experience is set within a craftsman’s effort to tell the story whole — an effort to do justice to their adventures as young men, talented, stylish, successful and lucky, who knew the joy of creative friendship besides ... Robertson has a strong memory and a gift for recalling, or providing, dialogue, whole scenes of it ... Testimony is high-spirited, hugely enjoyable and generous from start to finish.
Robust, wry, gritty and wise to the vicissitudes of a career in rock ’n’ roll, it is just what the reader wants, marred only occasionally by stiff dialogue ... add to the mix a steel-trap memory and a muddled childhood—featuring two fathers, numerous gangsters, alcoholism and some diamond smuggling—and you have the makings of a Dickensian bildungsroman ... Here is by far the fullest first-person account of the early electric tours of [Bob] Dylan ... Occasionally one has the impression that Mr. Robertson is tiptoeing around awkward issues, always to the detriment of the book ... Generosity suits him, and whatever the truth, Testimony is a graceful epitaph.?
Testimony is a book for the fans. Robertson is a fun raconteur, with a good memory for a compliment ... The grossest moment in Testimony comes when Robertson answers the charge that has dogged him for years — that he stole publishing rights from his former bandmates ... Robertson has the good sense to leave off testifying just when most people would stop caring, but I wish he had spared a few pages for his solo albums, or for the months in the late Seventies when he shacked up with Marty Scorsese.