Tuesday, September 27, 2005

American Masters . Bob Dylan | PBS

I caught Bob Dylan documentary last night, or as Martin Scorsese would prefer it called: American Masters . Bob Dylan PBS: "No Direction Home: Bob Dylan
A Martin Scorsese Picture "

A few impressions:

I had no idea what a little boy Bob Dylan was when he first perfomed. Dylan and Joan Baez on stage looked more like awkard teens on a formal date than the new gods of the 60s.

There was a comment that Woody Guthrie passed his legacy to Pete Seeger and Pete Seeger passed his on to Bob Dylan. This a very telling observation that boomers, while liking the 44 year old Seeger, who had put three hits on the chart in the 50s, were more comfortable hearing similar material from someone their own age.

I had always heard about the Newport Folk Festival, and it was great seeing film clips and hearing music from the legendary event, now only remembered for Dylan's switch to electric. I was not aware that the diversity of music included R & B and Johny Cash. Dylan and Baez' duet, while definitely an iconic and emotional moment, wasn't necessarily the artistic high point of the festival. Is it my imagination, or was Baez coming in slightly behind Dylan because she didn't know the lyrics?

Years ago, I remember a professor being asked about the cause for poetry's commercial death in America, and he wearily explained that poetry was alive and well, but in music rather than print form. Bob Dylan bears the responsibility for this.

2 comments:

Steve said...

Gosh, I hate to rain on the Dylan parade, but I'm a boomer and I never liked him.
In fact, I think the statement that he was carrying on the flame from Guthrie to Seger points out the real reason so many boomers like Daylan--they don't like loud rock and roll.
Dylan is the Kingston Trio done hipper, and you can listen to Dylan or Joan Baez without having to tap your foot or nod you head in time to the music.

Mitch Kief said...

I think you're right.

While I found Dylan occasionally interesting, and mostly tolerable, I did notice that the pseuds who turned their nose up at the rockers, all seemed ga ga over Dylan and his murky lyrics, which seem to follow a folk template, with a touch of symbolism thrown in for good measure.