Posts Tagged ‘No Direction Home’

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This was a film that covered Bob Dylan on his 1966 European tour backed up by the Hawks that eventually became The Band minus, Levon Helm. The film was to be shown on ABC television but ABC rejected and saying it was “incomprehensible” because Dylan himself was one of the editors and wanted the film to have more of an artistic feel.  It was shot under Dylan’s direction by D. A. Pennebaker, whose groundbreaking documentary Dont Look Back chronicled Dylan’s tour the previous year 1965 British tour.

It was filmed by D.A. Pennebaker who filmed Dylan’s 65′ European tour when he played acoustically called Don’t Look Back. Don’t Look Back is terrific. This film is very disjointed. This is the Dylan period that probably is my favorite. The Hawks are raw and powerful and Dylan was

There are some highlights to this odd film. A spontaneous piano duet with Dylan and Johnny Cash, John Lennon and Bob Dylan very high riding around in a cab, and the famous concert footage from the  infamous Manchester Free Trade Hall concert, wherein an audience  member yells out “Judas” because of Dylan’s conversion to electric music. After the Judas remark, he proceeds to tell Robbie Robertson to play it loud and they kick off in a vicious “Like a Rolling Stone.” My favorite live version of that song. Those folk music fans were harsh.

The film is disjointed and frustrating to watch because some of the songs you want to see and hear are there…but only partly. You will be seeing Dylan performing something and then flash away to something else. Some of the concert footage and film from this ended up in the Martin Scorsese movie No Direction Home…I would recommend No Direction Home to be seen by everyone. Other scenes include Dylan and Robbie Robertson in hotel rooms writing and working through new songs, most of which remain unreleased and unpublished. Among these songs are “I Can’t Leave Her Behind”, which was later covered by Stephen Malkmus for the I’m Not There soundtrack.

Bob was pale and nervous and there is no secret he was doing drugs heavily through this movie. After the tour, Dylan had his motorcycle wreck heard around the world and after he recovered he didn’t tour for years.

The cab ride with John Lennon is historical now. Both of them in sunglasses and Lennon trying to inject humor into the situation and Dylan is ok at first and then starts getting sick as the filming stops. As Dylan shows signs of fatigue, Lennon urges him to get a grip on himself: “Do you suffer from sore eyes, groovy forehead, or curly hair? Take Zimdawn!…Come, come, boy, it’s only a film. Pull yourself together.”

Lennon would later recall in an interview with Rolling Stone that he and Dylan who were “both in shades, and both on fucking junk, and all these freaks around us.

If you are a Dylan fan it’s worth a watch. I’m glad we have “No Direction Home” to see some clear film segments on that tour. Eat The Document has not been officially released but you can get a bootleg of it or watch most of it on youtube.

 Thanks to PowerPop… An Eclectic Collection of Pop Culture

The two-and-a-half minute film clip of “Subterranean Homesick Blues” is often considered the forerunner of music videos. It was filmed at the end of Bob Dylan’s tour of England in 1965 to be used as a trailer announcing that the documentary of the tour was coming to theaters. Dylan also wanted the short film to be played on early video jukeboxes .

But first, just in case you are wondering who’s in the background. That’s the poet Allen Ginsberg (on the right, with the white shawl) the writer of Howl! among other works, and Bob Neuwirth, a musician and, like Ginsberg, a longtime friend of Dylan. It’s Bob Neuwirth holding the camera in back of Dylan on the cover of the album sleeve  “Highway 61 Revisited”. Both men were on the Rolling Thunder tour.

The director/producer D. A. Pennebaker filmed two other versions of the card flipping scene: there’s one in the Victoria Embankment Garden behind the Savoy where the finished video was filmed . In 1965, Bob Dylan released his fifth studio album, Bringing it All Back Home – watch the official music video for “Subterranean Homesick Blues” now.

Bob Dylan came up with the idea that he wanted a lot of things written on paper. The cue cards are filled with intentional misspellings and puns.  The cue cards were written on the cardboard you get in shirt laundry.

The words and phrases were drawn by Dylan, Joan Baez, Pennebaker, Bob Neuwirth and Donovan.

The song was filmed at the end of the tour that is the basis of the documentary, but Pennebaker moved it to the beginning to set the “stage” for the film.  The song “Subterranean Homesick Blues” was released in March 1965 as a single on Columbia Records; it was then the lead track on “Bringing It All Back Home,” released a few weeks later. It is 2 minutes and 20 seconds long. The first showing of the film was in May 1967.

In addition to the Savoy Steps clip, two alternate takes were shot: one just outside the back of the Savoy Hotel in the Victoria Embankment Gardens featuring Bob Neuwirth, Allen Ginsberg, and an unidentified man. And another, on the roof of the Savoy Hotel, featuring Neuwirth and Dylan’s Columbia Records producer Tom Wilson who is wearing a fez. A montage of the three clips can be seen in the documentary “No Direction Home.”