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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