Friday, September 30, 2005

No Direction Home: Bob Dylan

My goodness, 2005 has been a downright loquacious year for our pal Bob. First was the long awaited publication of his very Dylan-like…fascinating, frustrating, sober, wonderfully amusing, boldly informative, willfully oblique…memoir, Chronicles, Volume 1. And now comes this wonderful 200+ minute documentary about the early days of Bob Dylan’s career…and his influence on our popular music and our society.

With No Direction Home…shown on PBS and released before that on DVD…director Martin Scorsese and his fellow producers wove together film clips, interviews past and present, and thrilling performance clips to present Dylan not only as a great songwriter and a compelling performer but as a voice of his generation in the early 60’s (a role Dylan vehemently declined to buy into.)

And at the center is Dylan himself…feisty, irreverent, guarded, and acerbic in his younger days, candid and refreshingly straightforward in more recent interviews…looking back on that time (the film ends with his fabled 1966 motorcycle accident) clear-eyed and unwilling to bear any mantle beyond that of being “a song and dance man”.

This film reveals little about Dylan’s life and loves…that part of him is his and, as ever, he chooses keep it just so…and as much as possible about his music and its impact. It’s hard to imagine now, for example, how Dylan’s forsaking being a “folk singer” (just him, his acoustic guitar, and his harmonica) to plugging in as a rock ‘n’ roller (backed in these early days by most of the members of what would later become The Band.) The tumult may seem a bit silly now but it was a very serious, very polarizing event back when it happened and all of that is covered here wonderfully.

No Direction Home is a wonderful document of a certain time that resonates to this very day for fans of Bob Dylan…fans of popular music…and students of American culture and society during one of the pivotal moments (the 60’s) in our history.

1 comment:

A1 Success Force said...

Well written piece. If anyone wants to get me something for Christmas, this would be it.

By the way, I have visited your blog many times, but was prompted to re-visit after seeing you are a fellow member at Music Madness Trivia.