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Author Topic: "No Direction Home" - Scorsese deconstructs Dylan
Hephaestion
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posted 24 September 2005 11:31 AM      Profile for Hephaestion   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
There is a moment in Martin Scorsese's marvellous new film, No Direction Home, when all of the weariness, disenchantment and disgust that by 1966 Bob Dylan had come to feel about the vexatious business of being, well, Bob Dylan comes into sharp and comic relief.

Dylan is on his British tour, confronted with an excited posse of newspaper photographers, almost carnivorous in their pursuit of a picture of "the king of the protest singers". In his hand Dylan holds his Ray-Ban shades. "Bob," shouts one photographer, wanting 'thoughtful' - "could you just suck your glasses for one second?" Dylan stares back at him - an expression of palpable bemusement and contempt written on his face, as if to say, "Suck my whaaat?", then holds out the glasses to the photographer: "You suck 'em."

It wasn't, you surmise, supposed to be like this.



[...]
quote:
What Scorsese does brilliantly is contextualise Dylan and the times. He is seen singing Only a Pawn In Their Game - his song about the murdered civil rights activist Medgar Evers - at a meeting in Mississippi in 1962; appearing on the platform at the March on Washington in 1963, where Martin Luther King delivered his "I have a dream" speech; and, in the same year, making his first appearance at the Newport Festival singing Blowin' In the Wind. A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall serves as the soundtrack to footage of the Cuban missile crisis and Kennedy's assassination.

The "voice of a generation" tag has long since become such a tired cliché that it comes as a shock to be reminded of just how true it actually was - how much Dylan did give voice to the cry for freedom and justice that rose through the civil rights and peace movements, and how indelible a part of the '60s cultural landscape he was. Dylan was a catalyst in a way that is impossible to imagine any equivalent figure being today - quite simply, nobody speaks to these times in the way Dylan did to those.

Part two of the film chronicles the rapid shift from folk hero to electric messiah, with all the bewilderment and rage it occasioned among his audience. We see Dylan at the Newport Festival in 1965, tearing through Maggie's Farm with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, the first rumbles of incomprehension and bemusement rising from the audience like a growl, coalescing into a chorus of boos. "You could not understand the words," says the paterfamilias of folk music Pete Seeger, expressing the bafflement of an older generation confronted with the writing on the wall.

What Scorsese's film makes clear is just how much pressure there was on Dylan to conform to other people's ideas and expectations of him, and his deft, and increasingly desperate, attempts to evade any attempt to own or define him. Joan Baez recalls that while he had "given his greatest songs to the anti-war, civil rights arsenal", once his name had become indelibly associated with "the movement", Dylan could never be persuaded personally to take part in a march or demonstration.

As the demands became ever more intense, the media interrogations ever more inane ("Why," a French journalist asks, "do you sing?"), Dylan increasingly took refuge in evasion and inscrutability, the straight-faced put-down his most ubiquitous defence. "How many protest singers are there today?" he is asked in one press conference. "You mean right now?" Dylan asks. "About 136" adding, after a moment's reflection, "or maybe 142…"



[...]
quote:
'No Direction Home' is on BBC2 at 9pm, Mon and Tues.

Link


From: goodbye... :-( | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged
Brett Mann
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posted 27 September 2005 12:29 AM      Profile for Brett Mann        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I just received the dvd of No Direction Home for my birthday and watched it. It did not disappoint, but left me hungry for an equally close look at Dylan's later career and changes. He makes it clear in his autobiography, Chronicles, that he increasingly engaged in bizarre and contradictory behaviours simply to get the press and fans the hell off his back and let him be with his family. Increasingly I think of Bob Dylan as a prophet - that is, not necessarily someone who predicts the future, but someone who serves as a direct channel to humanity from God.
From: Prince Edward County ON | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged
anne cameron
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posted 27 September 2005 03:24 AM      Profile for anne cameron     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Oh my God!

Bob Dylan..and his music...are absolutely boring, commercialized, crap. That is cee ahr ay pee. Crap.


From: tahsis, british columbia | Registered: Jan 2005  |  IP: Logged
Amy
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posted 27 September 2005 03:53 AM      Profile for Amy   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I don't know about that. I do have a soft spot for his versions of some folk songs (I'm thinking of "House Carpenter" in particular)... and I do quite like some of his own work as well.

About the actual documentary though... A lot of me does resist the idea of seeing films made about artists of whatever type if I'm into the artist... it kind of makes me feel like a groupie. I have to say that the few things I've seen by Scorcese haven't won me over, either.


From: the whole town erupts and/ bursts into flame | Registered: Feb 2002  |  IP: Logged
Jacob Two-Two
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posted 27 September 2005 05:06 AM      Profile for Jacob Two-Two     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Oh my God!

Bob Dylan..and his music...are absolutely boring, commercialized, crap. That is cee ahr ay pee. Crap.


It is a shock to my system to realise there are people who think this way. Dylan is among the most original and talented songwriters that the US has produced. Crap? Boring?? Commercial??? I really don't get it.


From: There is but one Gord and Moolah is his profit | Registered: Jan 2002  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
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posted 27 September 2005 08:54 AM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Like the Bank of Montreal Homesick Blues?
From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Willowdale Wizard
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posted 27 September 2005 08:56 AM      Profile for Willowdale Wizard   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
or his other big hit, tangled up in boobs.
From: england (hometown of toronto) | Registered: Jan 2003  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
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posted 27 September 2005 08:58 AM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Seriously though, I can't criticize. I just wish I had something to sell out.
From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
skdadl
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posted 27 September 2005 09:04 AM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
That was funny, WW.

Gee, anne: you're stomping on my memories of a misspent youth there.


From: gone | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
RP.
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posted 27 September 2005 09:17 AM      Profile for RP.     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by anne cameron:
Bob Dylan..and his music...are absolutely boring, commercialized, crap. That is cee ahr ay pee. Crap.

I don't think I've ever agreed with anything you've said here.


From: I seem to be having tremendous difficulty with my lifestyle | Registered: Nov 2004  |  IP: Logged
fern hill
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posted 27 September 2005 09:32 AM      Profile for fern hill        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I saw part one of this last night on PBS. I thought it was interesting and illuminating. I was surprised, though I suppose I shouldn't have been, at how ambitious Dylan was. Say what you like about him, I find it hard to imagine the world without him. Who else could have done what he did? Pete Seeger?
From: away | Registered: Jan 2003  |  IP: Logged
'lance
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posted 27 September 2005 11:50 AM      Profile for 'lance     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Seriously though, I can't criticize. I just wish I had something to sell out.

I've quoted it before, but I still like what Jerry Garcia said on the Rolling Stone 20th-anniversary TV documentary.

The Grateful Dead had just had their first near-hit. Garcia said "we were willing to sell out years and years ago, it's just that no-one was buying."


From: that enchanted place on the top of the Forest | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged

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