I was spellbound for two hours last night watching Martin Scorcese’s Bob Dylan documentary “No Direction Home.”
Maybe it’s because of my age — I was sort of there for the original events — but I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. What a thrilling time that was, and how exciting it must have been for young Bob and the others who speak in this film: Dave Van Ronk, Maria Muldaur, Suze Rotolo (she’s on some of the old LP covers), Liam Clancy, Joan Baez, Mavis Staples – more than I can recall. New York City, 1963. The baton is being passed from the Beat Generation to Dylan and his circle. There are a million places to play. Dylan and the others are sponges, soaking up the old guys like Woody Guthrie, and each other, learning new music, new styles, new voices, and actually saying something in their songs. It’s not a concert show, but I was still fascinated and hugely entertained. Catch Part Two tonight (Tuesday, September 27, 2005) on PBS. In Los Angeles it’s on KCET, Channel 28 at 9:00 PM, but I think it’s a national presentation. This is history, folks, but fresh enough to feel contemporary. Most of the original players are still with us.
While I’m at it, I just want to say “Hurray!” to National Public Radio’s coverage of the ongoing hurricane disasters on the U.S. gulf coast. These stories, mostly on the afternoon news show “All Things Considered,” are precious documents. Heart-warming, heart-wrenching, visceral, surprising, maddening, informative, in ways I just don’t see the mainstream media doing. The 79-year-old woman who lived alone, floating inside her one-story home on her Stearns and Foster mattress for eight days before she was rescued (“It must have a lot of wood in it…”). The New Orleans pump station worker caught by NPR’s reporter dozing on the job – because he had not deserted his post for three weeks nonstop. The man who sent his family to safety and doesn’t even know where they are, while he stayed behind to assist whomever he could in his 9th Ward neighborhood. This is why we need public radio and television, my friends. Tune in and see for yourself.
As always, my heart is yours alone. And again, I might owe some of you an apology. Please forgive my transgressions. I am socially inept, and I should know better.
8 Replies to “Don’t Think Twice”
I feel like people in my generation are always harpin about what a bad singer Bob Dylan was, but to me that’s part of his magnetism. There was something he wanted to communicate so badly, he wasn’t going to let a minor detail like having a gravely voice stop him. He wasn’t some slick, cotton-candy pretty boy crooning about his predictable definition of sex. I missed the documentary — I’ll have to check it out on dvd, I guess.
And yes, there are days when “All Things Considered” surfaces as the only good reason not to renounce my citizenship and move to Belize.
Don’t Think Twice is my favorite Dylan song, by the way. Larry, I think we should get married.
Erin – I have been one of those who criticized Dylan’s singing, although I always understood that he wasn’t trying to present himself as a “singer” per se. One of the interesting aspects of the documentary is hearing his many voices along the way to what we hear today and during his commercial peak. He changed drastically and often, and there are scenes in which he sings quite nicely, thank you. In the section about him getting signed to Columbia they show a little bit of a Johnny Mathis recording session (also on Columbia), just to remind us of what the vocal fashion was at the time. Yikes.
“Don’t Think Twice” is one of the songs I choke on. I have too much baggage with it to actually sing it.
Hi Larry, this is my first post here, but I have been here many times before. How could I not say something about Bob Dylan, the soaring genius.
I actually was in New York, several times in 1963, including Labor Day in Greenwich Villiage.
Erin, you hit it perfectly as far as I am concerned.
We must have been posting simultaneously Larry. Can you imagine Dylan singing the line “ah but I was so much older then,
I’m younger than that now” and sounding like a smooth baritone?
Monty – Welcome! Glad you decided to uncloak.
He got a little baritone-y, didn’t he, on “Lay Lady Lay” and “John Wesley Harding?”
New York in ’63. God, I’ve missed so much…
Hey, Monty – Of all the eight million members of Blogger, you’re the only one who lists “We Five” as a favorite musical artist. That and your visits here place you among the Precious Few.
…well I woke up this morning…
I do believe this documentary is out on DVD now. Truly great great stuff.
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