Monday, August 21, 2006
The Freefallin' Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan's list of accomplishments (both notable and dubious) is considerable:
- From his earliest recordings, Dylan was writing songs in opposition to the war in Vietnam. That's notable regardless of your feelings on Vietnam. Dylan wasn't cashing in on the anti-war rock movement of the late 60's. The point is, Dylan was writing and singing about the war while the rest of the rock world was doing the twist.
- As soon as he'd established a following for his acoustic folk sound, he changed it up in 1965 with an electric performance at the Newport Folk Festival. It's the stuff of legends. Apparently the crowd booed him, but every time the story is retold, the crowd's reaction is worse and worse. The last time I heard a version of the story it ended with a hippie running onstage and stabbing Dylan through the heart with a wooden stake. Damned hippies!
- His golden period (beginning with 1965's Highway 61 Revisited through the early 70's) turned out some of the best songs in the history of rock and roll.
- His soundtrack to Sam Peckinpah's 1973 film Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid was (I think… maybe…) the first instance of a pop-rock star scoring all of the music in a major Hollywood film.
- Dylan confounded his fans toward the end of the 70's by converting to Christianity and releasing a string of Christian albums, none of which are very good.
- In the 80's, Dylan embraced the elder statesman of rock role and toured in sort of a patron saint roll with the Grateful Dead, Tom Petty, and others. Nothing from that period was especially good, either. The "Dylan and the Dead" recordings are particularly excruciating listening experiences. Imagine a group of confused elderly men on stage simultaneously hallucinating and attempting to assault one and other very slowly with musical instruments.
- Later day accomplishments (if that's still the word) have included a bewildering and brief speech at the Grammy awards... an absolutely bizarre ad for Victoria's Secret... a return to Newport, where he performed looking like some sort of kung-fu cowboy rockstar (the picture above is from that performance)... and a universally panned movie called Masked and Anonymous.
Now, according to Parade Magazine, Dylan's life is about to be adapted for the screen, and six different actors will be playing Dylan. The movie, called I'm Not There, will feature these six actors, each playing Dylan in different stages of his life:
- Christian Bale
- Heath Ledger
- Richard Gere
- Ben Whishaw
- Marcus Carl Franklin
- Cate Blanchett
The cast listing at IMDb has some differences from the list in Parade magazine… so we'll see. If Parade is correct, these are the six faces of Bob Dylan, as he'll be represented in I'm Not There:
You can read more here.
I shouldn't prejudge the film based on this information… but I can't help but expect it to be as disjointed, rambling, strange and ostentatious as the most recent years of Dylan's career have been.
Being a follower of Dylna from way back I agree with your observations save one. Slow Train Coming, one of his Christian albums is pretty durn good. But other than that ... yeah.
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