Mudcat Café message #1571595 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #84959   Message #1571595
Posted By: Don Firth
27-Sep-05 - 01:13 PM
Thread Name: DylanOnTube-PBS/ScorseseDocumentary
Subject: RE: DylanOnTube-PBS/ScorceseDocumentary
I watched it last night and was enthralled. I'm looking forward to tonight's thrilling episode, and I've checked and found that my local PBS affiliate will be repeating it Saturday night, both episodes, starting at 10:00 p.m. I've slapped a tape into the VCR, all set up to record it.

To be honest, I have never actually liked Dylan very much. Half the time I can't understand what the hell words he's singing, and most of the time he doesn't actually sing, he just sort of chants a song. As a performer, most of the time I find him a kind of an annoying bore. From what I've read about him in books like Positively 4th Street by David Hajdu, And a Voice to Sing With, Joan Baez' memoir, and The Mayor of MacDougal Street by Dave Van Ronk (with Elijah Wald), just as a person, I don't think I would like Dylan very much. Self-centered, egotistical, rude, and phony as a three-dollar bill. But somehow, he did have the knack of catching people's attention, even to the extent of having some people practically worship him. And he did put together some pretty punchy songs. It's obvious that he had something. Maybe I'm just not getting it!

In various interviews in the past, Dylan fed the interviewer all kinds of bullshit about who he was, where he was from, and how, in his (then) brief lifetime he had managed to be Woody Guthrie, Paul Bunyan, and a rough-hewn reincarnation of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart all rolled into one. Born and raised in Fargo, North Dakota, born on an Indian reservation somewhere in New Mexico, and God knows where else (actually Hibbing, Minnesota), hopped freights and bummed around the country since he was twelve (actually finished high school in Hibbing, registered for college, never attended classes, then hitchhiked straight to New York), met Mance Lipscomb and learned his guitar playing from him (never happened), and all sorts of other fictional accounts, apparently simply making them up on the spot. BUT—in the parts when Dylan is talking to whoever the interviewer is for this program, he seems to be fairly straight and genuine. Maybe he's finally grown up. If he were that way all the time, I think I could get to like him.

What really blows me away about this program is that practically everybody is in it.

Here was a chance to see people I had heard a lot about, maybe seen pictures of, but had never seen in person or in action on film. John Jacob Niles singing, for example. Bizarre! Fascinating! Israel G. Young who ran the Folklore Center in Greenwich Village and knew everybody. Lots of commentary from him. I've seen Odetta in person, but the short bits of her singing nailed my right in the chest! My God, she's a force! I met John Cohen in Berkeley in 1960 (he was at the Berkeley Folk Festival with the New Lost City Ramblers), and there he was, doing a lot of commentary on Dylan. Also, lots of great comments and stories by Dave Van Ronk (now, Van Ronk I could really like! Loved his book. Got it from the library, read it, then decided I had to have a copy and bought one.). Clips of Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, Allen Ginsberg, Mike Seeger, Maria Muldaur, even brief clips of Cisco Houston, the Weavers, and many others, with a whole eight nanoseconds of Cynthia Gooding (if you blink, you miss her).

One helluva nostalgia trip. I'm looking forward to tonight's episode. And then getting it on tape so I can go back and watch portions of it again.

Like they say, "Don't miss it if you can!"

Don Firth