Photo by Heinrich Klaffs
Watching Part II of the excellent, fascinating Martin Scorcese documentary, No Direction Home, about Bob Dylan. The first thing: Dylan’s speaking voice is ordinary, pedestrian, the guy down the street, a regular fellow, tinge of Iron Range Minnesota and the uneducated vernacular in his phrasing and inflections. There’s something inviting in this everything-altered-and-augmented era about that. OK. Now, I’m the one who read and loved, copied quotes from Dylan’s book, Chronicles: Volume One. So I suspect I am preternaturally predisposed to love this show.
Meeting Johnny Cash was a high thrill of Bob’s lifetime. There’s an interesting, little known fact. Meanwhile, the footage is working up to Bob going electric at the Newport Folk Festival, being booed and hissed, harassed from the stage. Time marches on, indeed, like a rolling stone. I’m two months from fifty. Dylan is at least twenty years older than me—God, can he be close to 70? These icons, still alive, with their topographic wrinkled-skin maps of time passing.
Allen Ginsberg says that Dylan is “a column of air…at one with his breath…he found a way in public to be almost a shaman with all of his consciousness and intelligence focused on his breath.”
The interesting thing is that it always was poetry, still is poetry, the universality is what makes it poetry, what makes it universal.
NB: Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2016.