Thursday, April 15, 2010

Bob Dylan "Don't Look Back"

PJ is taking some time off for the birth of his second child. Guest Blogger (and Dad) Bill Eville, former mvyradio employee, freelancer writer and Vineyard resident fills in.

Hardy and I traveled to the library to pick out our next concert video. I showed him a few selections. "The Song Remains The Same," "The Monterey Pop Festival." He chose, "Don’t Look Back," D.A. Pennebaker’s documentary of Bob Dylan’s 1965 London concert tour. I have no idea why he chose this video. Perhaps it was the cover shot. A young, clean-shaven Dylan looking both pensive and aggressive.

I was pleased. It had been a long time since I had seen this film. But I wondered how my five and half year old would take to it. There was so much footage of life on the road - hotel rooms and hanging out.

We brought a large box of Lego’s down into the man, man-cub, cave to work on while we watched and listened. But the Lego’s remained untouched, scattered about the rug. Hardy couldn’t take his eyes off Dylan and his friends. Joan Baez was on the tour as was Albert Grossman, Dylan’s manager. After Grossman threatened to punch a hotel concierge in the nose, Hardy repeatedly referred to him as the mean old guy.

When interviewing Dylan, the English reporters seemed mostly concerned with the British kids listening to Bob’s music not hearing the words, really hearing them, and understanding what Bob was preaching. Bob didn’t seem to care, though. “Hey man, I just go out and play,” he said.

Hardy didn’t seem to care about the words, either. He was worried about the groupies. A young girl jumped onto the back of the tour car as it was leaving a hotel. She refused to get off, even as the car sped up and weaved through the London traffic.

“Why is that girl on the car and not in the car?” Hardy asked.

I tried to explain how Dylan’s music meant so much to people that some would get carried away by the emotions they felt. And that this was okay, getting carried away, as long as you didn’t hurt yourself.

After awhile Cathlin and Pickle joined us in the basement. The whole family underground together. Cathlin and I had first watched this movie together many years ago in New York City at the Film Forum. We had just begun dating. For a moment I left the basement and was back with Cathlin in New York at a time when we were so poor we couldn’t even scratch up some rent money. We moved around a lot, housesitting our way through the city, taking care of pets and plants in exchange for free places to stay. Those days seem so remote now it is as if they were lived by someone else.

I marveled at the ability of music, perhaps more than any other medium, to hold one suspended in two worlds at the same moment; the past and the present. But then, there in the basement listening to Dylan with my children, I discovered a new note being added to this narrative. The future.

In the span of one song, I was my younger self falling in love with my future wife, I was my present self sharing this music with my children, and I was also the self I hope to become as I stumble half blind and half awake, half amused and half enraged, half confused and half amazed, through the foggy splendor of parenthood.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your story, I'll pass it along to my father (the filmmaker)
    Frazer Pennebaker