To be honest, when I first heard the press stirrings that Robertson didn’t venture beyond The Last Waltz, (Thanksgiving, ’76) in his 500 page memoir, I knee jerked. “Chickenshit.” I thought. “He doesn’t want to throw the fissures and suicides– the deep legal, personal and musical acrimony that defined the resultant years– on the youthful, dream fulfilling early years.”
Now, I don’t blame him. For Testimony is more than a retelling of rock ‘n’ roll initiation. It’s hazings and panty raids. This was being a Canadian/Jewish/Mohawk 16 year-old, falling in love with movies and cutting your teeth with Ronnie Hawkins. Running with Levon. Playing in a roofless, redneck, backwater club for a club owner named Jack Ruby. Running with Levon. Taking Europe by electrical storm with Bob. Weed with the Beatles. B12 boosters with Lower Manhattan icons and starlets. Jamming with Jimi (James at the time.) Running with Levon. Trying to avoid the family business of fencing diamonds. Running with Levon. Then Rick. Then Richard. Then Garth. Then . . .
Music From Big Pink. The Band. His beautiful wife and daughters. Car crashes. Mayhem. Stage Fright. Heroin . . . and there the ugliness that darkened all the years since ’76 becomes a way of life. A destroyer of worlds. And brotherhoods. And who in their right mind wants to hear and read that shit again? Not Robertson. Not me.
– Mike Jurkovic