The Scarborough Dude talks about the 60s, Dylan, misguided intelligence, and lots more not worth mentioning - just listen eh! Then send in a comment!!
Highway 61 Revisited - Dave Alvin - Highway 61 Revisited Revisited (Uncut)
Sign Language - Eric Clapton/Bob Dylan - Crossroads [Disc 4]
Baby, Let Me Follow You Down - Bob Dylan - Biograph (Disc 1)
I was up until 2:00 watching “No Direction Home,” so it was nice to hear your comments about the program this morning. I think the title is the secret to Dylan, something that Martin Scorcese seemed reluctant to talk about — odd, in that the word “direction” must resonate in a man who is a “director”-- when being interviewed by Charlie Rose in the follow-up, “Special.” I think that Dylan latched onto the political viewpoint of people like Guthrie and Seeger (Dust-bowl ‘Reds’) as a way of respect for his mentors. However, at a certain point, I guess that he decided that he had do find his own “direction” and moved passed them into anarchy. I think that is what the title suggests: Bob did whatever he felt like doing as a way of discovering himself (which I think is the “home” that he is referring to, and is interesting in that he says that he was “born a long way away from his home” – is still trying to find his way there). The brilliance of the Scorcese documentary is that he never makes a direct statement about Dylan. Nothing is said, it is just shown, and perhaps that is why he kept his mouth shut during the Charlie Rose interview. You can hear Dylan saying, “It’s about what ever you want it to be, man.”
I own the D. A. Pennebaker film, “Don’t Look Back.” I think that I was forty when I first watched this documentary. I was unimpressed by Dylan’s rudeness when dealing with journalists, and felt, that he was psychologically cruel with people who were just trying to make a living. Having watched the Scorcese film, I have a little more sympathy for Dylan’s responses. Now, I feel a little bit embarrassed for the people who had to interview him. Even the tones of their voices, their sculpted professionalism, are so antithetic to Dylan’s adenoidal gravel. Talk about different wavelengths! Dylan looks hyper-natural in contrast.
One of the differences between you and I is age and you have to remember that when most of these events were taking place, I was in the bottom years of elementary school. When Dylan had his accident, when the documentary ends, I was in Grade 6! The first Dylan album that I ever bought, to highlight this point, was “Blood on the Tracks” and I thought it was brilliant and long and good value for my $4.99 (no GST.) Even at that time, the 70’s, these artists had an intense bond of credibility with their audiences. I don’t know if you felt the same way, but Ms. Baez, in public, seems to be living a catholic fantasy: St. Joan of the Politically Correct. She looks soooo serious for the cause. Yet, that attitude was shaped by the doe-eyed, holy worship given to these leaders of a generation. There is the serious young man asking earnest questions, his laid-back beard and mustache contradicting the pedantic nature of his “inquiry.” Dylan looks stoned or exhausted, gives a flippant answer and the young man gets angry. “Hey, I’d give you my autograph if that’s what you needed.” And he’s right. Piss off, stop looking at the artist, stop looking at the finger and look at where it is pointing, -- find your own art/heart. Artists in the 60’s, as someone points out in the doc, had “to have something to say.” For Dylan, language is a “toy” – and you can see that in the game that he makes up for himself standing outside the pet clip and cigarette shop. He rearranges words not because they make sense, but it fun to see what happens. When Joan is sitting in the hotel room and Bob asks her to read his writing she dutifully analyzes his work. He thinks that’s “fantastic” and then reveals that he has no idea what it means. She does a good imitation of a snort-laugh to finish the anecdote. Dylan doesn’t know what he’s doing, and if does know, he doesn’t want to know. Or, Bob doesn’t start off with something to say, and isn’t particularly clear when he’s finished; when it’s done, well, hell, that just where he ended up. Let’s keep moving; what’s next? Let’s face it, would you really want to end up still singing, “Puff the Magic Dragon”? (Sorry about that, Peter, Paul, and Mary.) Language is sound; music is sound. Improvise. What would it sound like if the sound were electric? You can’t hear that? Well, let us “play it fucking loud.”
Personally, I think, when the “Band” has gone home, and you don’t have the buffer of joking, of comrades-in-arms, “to be on your own,” the bullshit of boos may be all your left with. In “No Direction Home,” there is a short clip of Dylan towards the end of the infamous English tour; he’s doing his very best to make the point that he doesn’t want to tour anymore. With fingers nervously moving about his face, his eyes chameleon-like, rotating in different directions, he looks like Brad Pitt’s character in “12 Monkeys.” I think that motorcycle accident or not, there was a breakdown and eight years of recovery, painkillers – prescribed, or not.
You might remember Jeff Goldblum’s character in Jurassic Park talking about “chaos theory.” He demonstrates the unpredictability of events by pouring a drop of water down the hand of Laura Dern’s character. I think that Dylan is one of those people who, if given the opportunity to do it all again, would have ended up sweeping the floor at his family business in Hibbing – not because that would have made him happier, but because that is just how it worked out. If there was conscious thought behind it, then he’d do it to piss people off. He would do so because we expected “Bob Dylan.”
Peace out, Bob.
PS: Don’t think that I am doing these things for the podcast, or otherwise; it’s nice to have an opportunity to talk about things, as I’m an old bachelor and don’t often get the chance to respond to things that happen to me. Pod out, Ken!
Hi Scarborough Dude, I found it interesting that you have similar feelings to me regarding race, that we white men need not be so apologetic for who we are. It might also be nice if other people of colour could stop playing the white = guilty card and we could all just try and be decent with each other. We are all human and we all have prejudices, let's get over it and accept each other, if not as groups, then as individuals. Whites are not the only ones with prejudices.
Hey Keith - thanks for the supportive comment! It's a tricky topic to explore, but I think we all need to, without fear- or guilt. Anyway, good to know you're still out there listening - I thought I had lost you.
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