Mental Floss

Ain't In It for My Health: a Film About Levon Helm

Ransom Riggs

A buddy of mine from film school, Jacob Hatley, has spent the last few years directing a documentary about Levon Helm, and after a crazy amount of polishing and editing and reshoots, it finally premieres next month at the South by Southwest film festival -- no small feat. However, he's given us a little sneak peek -- a 20-minute short called "Only Halfway Home," which includes beautifully-shot live performances of three songs, interspersed with a number of dramatic scenes written by Levon and Jacob.

For those of you who don't know who Levon Helm is, he's a Grammy-winning multi-instrumentalist who was one of the founding members of The Band (you've heard "The Weight," I promise -- and if you haven't, watch this performance of it from Scorsese's legendary 1978 concert film The Last Waltz. Levon sings and drums) -- an American musical treasure who nearly lost his voice to throat cancer in the late 90s, but after nearly a decade out of the spotlight, he's back, winning multiple Grammys, and kicking ass. The open-to-the-public "Midnight Rambles" he still holds in his music venue/recording studio in Woodstock, New York are the stuff of legend -- and if you've never been to one, this film will give you a taste of what they're like. (Just to be clear: Ain't in it for My Health is a documentary, but this short is not.)