My four-year-old daughter R.J. has learned how to operate our stereo. R.J.'s favorite CD is Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits, which is OK with me, especially since my mother-in-law hates Bob Dylan. It is disconcerting, though, when R.J. sings the lyrics to "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35" at our dinner table over her plate of macaroni and cheese.
I thought R.J. might like to see Dylan on television, so I checked out Carnegie-Stout Public Library's copy of Martin Scorsese's documentary, No Direction Home. As soon as Dylan appeared on screen, glassy-eyed and howling in a clip from his infamous 1965 UK tour, R.J. shouted, "Ahh! Turn it off! I don't like it!" My wife Maggie later spotted the following blurb about kids' reactions to Dylan: "Bob Dylan Considered 'Weird Man' At Grandson's School."
Unlike R.J., Maggie and I were very impressed by No Direction Home. It's better than other music documentaries we'd seen recently, like The U.S. vs. John Lennon or This Machine Kills Fascists: The Woody Gutherie Story. And there are a lot of interesting similarities between No Direction Home and our favorite Scorsese movie, Raging Bull, the 1980 drama starring Robert De Niro as boxer Jake La Motta.
I'm eager to watch Don't Look Back, D.A. Pennebaker's 1967 documentary about Dylan. I'm also interested in Festival, Murray Lerner’s 1967 documentary about Dylan and the Newport Folk Festival. Hopefully Festival is as good as Jazz on a Summer’s Day, an earlier film about the Newport Jazz Festival. Another Lerner movie, The Other Side of the Mirror, will be released on DVD this coming October 30, 2007.
Todd Haynes' new movie I'm Not There should be available on DVD early next year. In this "unconventional biopic," seven different actors, including Heath Ledger, Richard Gere, Christian Bale, and Cate Blanchett, each play Bob Dylan at various stages of his life.
Why is there so much interest in Bob Dylan? Perhaps for the same reasons that kids think Dylan is weird or why he bothers my mother-in-law. Dylan is weird, in a "mysteriously strange or fantastic" kind of way. If you don't believe me, call the Library Information Desk at 563-589-4225 option #4 , reserve some of the DVDs listed above, and judge for yourself.
~ Mike, Adult Services Librarian