Not that I have ever claimed to be a topical blogger, or any kind of blogger at all really, but this is a particularly random post that I, all of a sudden, felt compelled to write.
As some of you may know I’m a huge Bob Dylan fan, there is something about the way he songs a song, the characters he becomes as he sings and the emotion he conjures when doing so that, for me, makes him unlike any other musician I have ever heard.
This video condenses all those feelings for me. Its an incredible moment captured by D.A. Pennebaker in his seminal rockumentary ‘Don”t Look Back’ where Dylan meets Donovan and they play a song each in a hotel room. Its clearly a big moment for Donovan, and he plays a lovely folk trad and its followed by rapturous applause from the room, even with Dylan smiling and exclaiming ‘That’s a good song man!’ after the opening verse.
Dylan then grabs the guitar and proceeds to play ‘Its All Over Now Baby Blue’ – its an amazing rendition for a few reasons. Firstly Dylan knows its a great song and he knows its on a whole new level to what we’ve just heard from Donovan, he also relishes in some of the lyrics which he knows to be clever, smiling knowingly at a friend when he sings ‘yonder stands your orphan with his gun’. Its a powerful and slightly eery experience watching Dylan play like this, but the genius of Pennebaker is that (even though he knows he’s capturing a magical performance from the star of his film) he points the camera away from the player and over to Donovan.
In this two minute performance Donovan seems to learn that even though he’s sitting in the same room as Dylan, the young American is on a different planet in terms of songwriting and performance. His body language is clear to read as he almost curls into a ball searching for comfort. Dylan owns him so heavily that Donovan is almost broken at the end of the performance, and instead of the applasue he received only minutes before the room is left almost deathly silent as Dylan finishes up. Things have changed and no-one is quite sure how or why.
Its a quite astounding moment.