Strike another match
I rather liked the Dylan folkrockumentary that aired the last two nights on PBS. I imagine the 'sphere is bloguflectin' on the thing left and right, but I don't know for sure -- I only read maybe five blogs these days, and four of them are 'political,' you dig?
The hours of interview footage Dylan gave his manager were pretty amazing even if they didn’t reveal much aside from Dylan essentially throwing his hands in the air to say “I’m not anythingggg! -- I’m just inscrutable and shit!” Scorcese knows how to make a good music movie, despite how irresponsibly and impossibly dreadful his bloated old dudes look at this blues music TV series for PBS was.
I found the stock imagery of !THE! !SIXTIES! used throughout rather grating, but maybe it's necessary for anyone who's been in a coma for fifty years and just turned on their television set, or for the glazed-over fifteen year olds forced to watch this thing in class by their hippie English teacher trying to "connect" with them. Ginsberg was in his over-effusive mode but with such conviction and eloquence it was pretty amazing. Hard to believe fucking Pete Seeger, God rest his soul, still seemed mad that Dylan plugged in his goddamn guitar; being so short-sighted at the time is one thing but he looked like his neck was gonna pop retelling it thirty-plus years later, poor guy! It just is weird how so few people ever 'got' Dylan, always projecting onto him what they wanted him to be or, to be fair, what he had been just a few months prior.
And while it was rad how many people were tracked down for the thing, they all pretty much toed the line for what you'd expect they'd say. I found it interesting that Ramblin' Jack and Richard Farina never existed, that Fred Neil got so glossed over he seems to barely have existed (yeah he was an asshole but still…), and speaking of assholes it was a relief Robbie Robertson was nowhere to be seen, but why not talk to, say, Garth? And speaking of bearded genius types, the importance of Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music was not even alluded to that I noticed, except as one of the records we can presume Dylan stole from his Minneapolis pal? Granted, even in three and a half hours that span about six years, there are gonna be omissions. And when a documentary like this is coming out of a particular artist's camp, who one assumes have a great deal of control of the film, you have to expect such stuff -- so it was really rad when you consider that...
The weirdest omission to me, though, was of the made-for-TV film Eat the Document, even though footage from and shot for that movie are one of the great archival highlights of the thing. That footage, shot throughout a tour of England in '66 with the brilliant Hawks backing Dylan (you know the mythology, and about the "Judas!" followed by the "I don't believe you" followed by "You're a liar!" followed by "Like a Rolling Stone" which Charlie Rose said is the greatest rock song ever, and if you do not know about this, I believe that Greil Marcus has written three books about those twenty seconds) by D.A. Pennebaker a year after Don't Look Back had been filmed, is one of the main things holding the film together, the way it’s used repeatedly throughout. How come they never acknowledged what project all that material was originally from? Dylan helped edit it for ABC... Ahhh, I fear I've slipped into amateur trainspotter Dylanology! Lord help me.
It was never shown on TV 'cause it was "too experimental," but it's a really amazing document, excuse the unintended pun. Apparently there is an excellent DVD bootleg floating around. (If you find one, please burn me a copy, would you?) Eat the Document is sort of Dylan's Cocksucker Blues; in fact I once had a little TV party about 18 years ago in the kitchen of my row house in Queens where I showed both of them back to back, with the Bud Dwyer tape and Minor Threat's last concert ever thrown in for good measure (hey, it was the '80s, plus, I guess we all had 5 hours to spare).
Speaking of those two movies together, I wonder if part of the reason it's only screened offically approx. three times since it was made almost forty years ago is that Dylan is clearly out of his goddamn skull on some heavy medication? He's soooooo skinny and out of it at points, even in the PBS movie. There're heavy-lidded moments (when he's singing Hank with Cash, for instance) and what look to me to be fiending moments (when he's saying how much he needs to go home and does not want to go to Italy). That one oft-booted "extra scene" from Eat the Document where Dylan is "tired," and gets in the limo after puking and he's in the back there with John Lennon and they're trying to talk to each other for at least twenty minutes? It's so obvious (to me) that Dylan is high on heroin there and Lennon is tripping his ass off. And we all know what the "motorcycle accident" was; hell, I had a half-dozen of those myself before I finally got clean.
Of course, I am totally speaking out my ass here, and quite possibly doing that "projecting" stuff I just judged Dylan's boomer fans for. As this is not a classic rock gossip site but a ye olde mp3 blogge, I shall shut my yap, now. Ohh, and I trust you are having an enjoyable WOCLAP -- War on (Consensual, Legal, Adult) Pornography day?
If that bums you out, or any of the other small-ish ways that the first ammendment and most amendments (except the second one) don't really exist anymore, there's always YACHT ROCK #4 -- I can't believe these things keep getting better. Wow. Just, wow.