07 March 2006

<i>No Direction Home</i>

Martin Scorcese wins again with another rockumentary, this one about Bob Dylan. It details Dylan's progression as a "musical expeditionary" from middle-of-nowhere Minnesota to Voice of a Generation (i.e. the early part of his career). It features some great archival footage of lots of folk artists (Dave Van Ronk, Pete Seeger, Liam Clancy) and beat poets (most notably Alan Ginsburg). It prompted me to make a couple of observations about Dylan:

  1. He's a maniac. He constructs his sentences in ways that are just slightly bizarre. It's hard to put your finger on it, but it sounds like he's from another planet. When he was first trying to get a recording contract he made up this ridiculous life-history (at the age of 22) of how he had been raised in New Mexico and travelled all over the place as a child. In reality he never left Duluth, MN until he went to NYC to hang out in Greenwich village to hang out with the aforementioned folk singers, beat poets and assorted weirdos.

  2. Watching his early live performances he doesn't do much trickiness with his guitar. He basically just has some back-and-forth strumming. The more ornate arrangements from the middle and late portions of his career seem to be actually played by backing bands etc.

Anyway, the film is a must-see for any Dylan fan and otherwise pretty boring.

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