Monday, September 26, 2005

No Direction Home



I'm watching the Martin Scorcese documentary of Bob Dylan right now and it's incredible. But I don't recommend it unless you love Dylan. And you have to have loved Dylan for at least three years.

Dylan's tough on people. If you're at all serious about music, you know at some point you have to deal with him. And you don't want to. It seems all he is is a whiny voice and an acoustic guitar. For hours.

But just like alcohol, Dylan's an acquired taste. Walker forced him upon me when I was 15 and I did not appreciate it one bit. But by 18, I understood. You have to get past his voice and then you realize how amazing his songs are. How immense his lyrics are. And you start to ignore that voice and listen to the songs. It's the reason everyone who ever covered Dylan had a hit.

Then, years later, you realize you actually like his voice. When he really whines you know why. You tell your friends that was the best whine ever. And you own thirty albums of his and feel like you're only a casual fan.

When I graduated from improv class (the one where I didn't do so well) we all went out for drinks and the jukebox started playing 'Isis'. It's from Desire. I didn't have it but a couple of people knew every word. I felt even more inadequate than I did in class. That's the power of a Dylan song.

Part 2 is on PBS tomorrow. I recommend it. If you're ready.

7 comments:

Dave said...

I'm not an obsessive Dylan fan, but I was riveted to the tv last night. Its a great documentary by Scorcese. He brings all these people into the picture so its not just about Dylan's magnificience. In fact, the documentary does a good job of showing all the other artists and influences of the time. I'm looking forward to Part 2 tonight.

Anonymous said...

J - Aren't you a writer? Nice spelling!

(hint - 2 sentence)


dfx30

Jon Clarke said...

Yeah, I tend to get all excited and not proofread posts. Fixed it.

Darren said...

I had been looking forward to the first installment for weeks and can't wait for tonight's.

You see I grew up in a home where the closest thing to a religious icon was a picture of Dylan on one end and a picture of Lennon on the other and my first concert was a Dylan show, with my parents when I was 13.

I often cringe upon the sound of people laughing at Dylan's voice. As if that's all they can hear. It seems so...limited. So narrow, shallow. Aggravating.

Perhaps this is melodramatic but it's the same feeling I get when an out of touch Republican voices social policy that ignores the people that need it the most. It's the same sort of, "Can't you see what's going on?!" feeling. And I mean, is there really anyone on the radio today that
has a "good voice?" And what is a "good voice" anyway? Sinatra?

Long story long, your posting resonated with me.

Heywood Jablowme said...

To the person who bitched about the spelling. Great minds leave the editing to the failed, Start sucking. he is a writer not a speller.

Walker said...

I like music. I also like sleep, that is where I'm a viking!

Brian Kunath said...

Missed the first half, just caught the second. I've been a Dylan fan since I was about 12 when my brother brought home his greatest hits LP. Since then, it's been a constant discovery of new songs, sounds and words.

I can remember driving my 79 Chevy Caprice Classic when "Like a Rolling Stone" first really hit me. It was something about the organ and harmonica and his voice and words coming together. It just sunk in.

I remember hearing Maggie's Farm on my walkman while mowing my neighbor's lawn. I'm pretty sure I did a shitty job mowing; I was really concentrating on the sound.

Then, a few years later -- maybe around 1989 -- my brother popped on Desire while we were driving to my grandmother's for Thanksgiving. Up rolled Hurricane, and I was transfixed.

There are so many moments in my life that I can peg around a Dylan song. And this was music that was at least 15-25 years old when I first discovered it. Amazing.

As Darren mentions, the whole thing about people being bothered by his voice annoys me. It feels like the whole American Idol sensibility coming through. Can you imagine what those morons would say about Dylan if he stumbled into the audition room?

Dylan's voice is fantastic. It's full of emotion and range and his phrasing is utterly unique. Thankfully, we have somebody with the soul of Scorsese to help tell Dylan's story with the insight it deserves.

Great documentary.h