"That was all we could do at the time. We couldn't get along—we all knew that fairness was a bunch of shit. We all knew we were getting screwed, so we couldn't sit down and create no more music. 'Up on Cripple Creek' and all that stuff was over—all that collaboration was over, and that” said Levon reflecting on the period just prior to the recording of "Moondog Matinee".
In 1971, "Rock of Ages" had led to an unofficial hiatus for The Band. Independently, The Band worked on various projects separately whether it was producing, writing or performing. There were also attempts at getting The Band back together to work on their next studio album. Though, none of those attempts led to anything fruitful. Richard hadn’t written a song, or at least presented a song to the group in some time and Robbie wasn’t offering up much either since he was hitting some serious writer’s block.
Eventually, The Band came out of touring retirement in 1973. Which led to a legendary performance at Watkins Glen with The Grateful Dead and The Allman Brothers. Feeding off the energy of their live performances and feeling like more of a collective again, and hoping at reviving the creative juices needed to keep on producing albums for Capitol Records it was decided that an album of covers which eventually led to "Moondog Matinee".