Portrait of an artist as a young man. Roughly chronological, using archival footage intercut with recent interviews, a story takes shape of Bob Dylan's (b. 1941) coming of age from 1961 to 1966 as a singer, songwriter, performer, and star. He takes from others: singing styles, chord changes, and rare records. He keeps moving: on stage, around New York City and on tour, from Suze Rotolo to Joan Baez and on, from songs of topical witness to songs of raucous independence, from folk to rock. He drops the past. He refuses, usually with humor and charm, to be simplified, classified, categorized, or finalized: always becoming, we see a shapeshifter on a journey with no direction home. Written by
The Title of this Documentary comes from a line in the chorus of "Like A Rolling Stone". See more »
When A&R man John Hammond is introduced, Billie Holiday, whom Hammond signed to Columbia Records, is heard singing the anti-lynching protest song "Strange Fruit." In truth, Hammond did not allow Holiday to record "Strange Fruit" for Columbia; she recorded the song for Milt Gabler's Commodore Records instead. See more »
How many people who major in the same musical vineyard in which you toil, how many are protest singers? That is, people who use their music, and use the songs to protest the uh, social state in which we live today, the matter of war, the matter of crime, or whatever it might be.
Um... how many?
Yes. How many?
Uh, I think there's about uh, 136.
[People around him giggle. The reporter doesn't laugh]
You say ABOUT 136, or you mean exactly 136?
Uh, it's either 136 or 142.
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I felt thoroughly happy while watching No Direction Home on BBC 2 over the past two evenings - lots of video and audio footing I had never heard or seen before and precious insights into the workings of Dylan's poetic mind.
I have been following Dylan for over 40 years now and have always been a fan, except during his Christian period. I found it illuminating to learn that, when Joan Baez had just delivered to him a deep-going analysis of one of his songs, Dylan said he was curious to see what other reviewers would make of it. Himself he didn't know what the hell it all meant. He just wrote beautiful texts without worrying too much if all the combined lines would make coherent sense.
Dylan uses words like an impressionist painter uses paint. Those paintings can confer a sense of beauty without necessarily offering a clear idea of what is actually presented. Dylan's songs are collections of beautiful phrases and words. Don't ask him to explain the meaning of existence to us. Just enjoy his unique songs and magical voice. In his own words, he is "just a song and dance man". And a sublime one at that!
Profound thanks to Scorsese for making this picture. A 10 out of 10. (And thanks to Philconcannon for his excellent review.)
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