Thursday, January 28, 2010

No Direction Home Part 2

Part 2 of Martin Scorsese's 2005 Dylan documentary rings in at a shorter length than Part 1. But with the DVD I got showing 200 minutes-plus I was expecting a duanting viewing exercise. Turns out that number was for both discs ..... I shouldn't have worried. Like Part 1 the second part is thoroughly engrossing (see my Dec. 20, 2009 post).....It overlaps some of the same territory as Disc 1, starting with Dylan's 1965 transition from acoustic to electric, and the fallout with devoted folk music fans hurling epithets like "traitor" - and famously at the Royal Albert Hall - "Judas" ..... I didn't know that Canada's The Band - courageously, as Dylan says - backed him on that gone-electric tour of England, where the antipathy was so thick you could cut it. Dylan even feared for his safety..... Other points of interest: Mike Bloomfield (my favourite blues musician) and Al Kooper backing him on Like a Rolling Stone. Kooper wasn't even supposed to play the organ and kind of talked his way into it. But, not knowing quite how to play the song, he played one note behind the rest of the band. The result? That incredibly prominent organ sound and the defining characteristic of the song.....Again, with this disc, Dylan comes across as a man who follows his own musical instincts. He refuses to be labeled as a protest singer or even someone with a "message." He likens himself to a showman - end stop ..... Even his one time paramour and singing partner Joan Baez can't quite figure his idiosyncrasies. Respectfully she says he's an artist who never went to the audience but had the audience come to him......But most hilarious are the mid-1960s press conferences, where the straightest of reporters asked the most serious and ridiculous questions. Hard to believe society was that "square" back then. To which, of course, Dylan simply shrugged or replied in ways that mocked the reporters' absurdities .....The film ends when Dylan finished touring in 1966, after his famous motorcycle accident. (He didn't resume until eight years later.) ...... Over the past couple of decades Dylan has been a relentless touring musician. It's almost as if his fame means nothing. He's as much a workaholic as any 200-night on-the-road performer, and has played large halls to small clubs. He doesn't care. Why? Because he's true to himself.

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