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Mavis Staples on “The Weight”

I have a tendency, which I think is good, to just sing from my heart. I want to feel it myself. Pops taught me that, to sing from my heart. I can’t just sing from the top of my head. I gotta get into the song. I see it like a movie, in my head, when I’m singing. I got Chester, I know what he looks like. And when Pops says, “Go down, Moses,” I know Moses. I took it as Moses in the Bible, you know. I just make up my own vision to make the song feel good for me, and make it my own.

Elon Green talked to the great Mavis Staples about her Last Waltz performance of “The Weight,” filmed by Martin Scorcese on a soundstage after the 1976 concert. At the very end of the clip, as Elon notes, you see Mavis mouth the word, “Beautiful”: “It wasn’t rehearsed to go like that,” she says. “It was just a feeling that brought that on.” [TNY]


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