Monday, December 21, 2009

Bob Dylan Is Here- Somewhere - A Film Review Of "I'm Not There"

Click on the title to link to YouTube's interview of the movie "I'm Not There" by Todd Haynes

DVD Review


I’m Not There, starring Cate Blanchett, Richard Gere, Heath Leger and others, 2007


If you want Bob Dylan at the beginning, the middle (or middles) and as he moves toward the end of his career this film is for you-if you have decoder ring. After having been introduced to Bob Dylan’s music in the early folk revival days of the 1960s, having gone on with him through the folk rock days, moved away during his preacher Bob days and have come back to his music now that he is in his dotage (otherwise known as the endless tour) it is rather nice for someone to be thoughtful enough to do a little cinematic bio of the man who has been hailed as a cultural icon.

And after watching this film is that still true? A bio you say? Of who, you say? Well, I didn’t say that it was a standard cookie- cutter bio sketch of the many lives of a performer who has been doing it for over forty years, warts and all. No, this is more in the realm of high camp, low camp, surrealism, name games and just pure whimsy as director Todd Haynes (apparently with Dylan’s approval) has set up an allegory of the six main lives of Dylan. And it works. Let’s put it this way. If you want a standard bio there are many, many good film documentaries out there (especially from the British) that chronicle one aspect or another of the ups and downs of Dylan’s recording career. Here we have a puzzle to solve, Dylan from bright young talent to old time Western codger (played by Richard Gere).

Although I would not really suggest this thing for novices, every aficionado should be viewing this thing more than once. I might add that between covers of his music by the likes of Richie Havens (a fantastic version of “Tombstone Blues” done with one of Dylan’s personas) and a sound track filled with his own performances is worth the price of admission. Moreover, Cate Blanchett’s performance as Dylan in his turning folk electric period of the mid-1960s is better than… Dylan's. Go figure.

Tombstone Blues

The sweet pretty things are in bed now of course
The city fathers they're trying to endorse
The reincarnation of Paul Revere's horse
But the town has no need to be nervous

The ghost of Belle Starr she hands down her wits
To Jezebel the nun she violently knits
A bald wig for Jack the Ripper who sits
At the head of the chamber of commerce

Mama's in the fact'ry
She ain't got no shoes
Daddy's in the alley
He's lookin' for the fuse
I'm in the streets
With the tombstone blues

The hysterical bride in the penny arcade
Screaming she moans, "I've just been made"
Then sends out for the doctor who pulls down the shade
Says, "My advice is to not let the boys in"

Now the medicine man comes and he shuffles inside
He walks with a swagger and he says to the bride
"Stop all this weeping, swallow your pride
You will not die, it's not poison"

Mama's in the fact'ry
She ain't got no shoes
Daddy's in the alley
He's lookin' for the fuse
I'm in the streets
With the tombstone blues

Well, John the Baptist after torturing a thief
Looks up at his hero the Commander-in-Chief
Saying, "Tell me great hero, but please make it brief
Is there a hole for me to get sick in?"

The Commander-in-Chief answers him while chasing a fly
Saying, "Death to all those who would whimper and cry"
And dropping a bar bell he points to the sky
Saving, "The sun's not yellow it's chicken"

Mama's in the fact'ry
She ain't got no shoes
Daddy's in the alley
He's lookin' for the fuse
I'm in the streets
With the tombstone blues

The king of the Philistines his soldiers to save
Puts jawbones on their tombstones and flatters their graves
Puts the pied pipers in prison and fattens the slaves
Then sends them out to the jungle

Gypsy Davey with a blowtorch he burns out their camps
With his faithful slave Pedro behind him he tramps
With a fantastic collection of stamps
To win friends and influence his uncle

Mama's in the fact'ry
She ain't got no shoes
Daddy's in the alley
He's lookin' for the fuse
I'm in the streets
With the tombstone blues

The geometry of innocent flesh on the bone
Causes Galileo's math book to get thrown
At Delilah who sits worthlessly alone
But the tears on her cheeks are from laughter

Now I wish I could give Brother Bill his great thrill
I would set him in chains at the top of the hill
Then send out for some pillars and Cecil B. DeMille
He could die happily ever after

Mama's in the fact'ry
She ain't got no shoes
Daddy's in the alley
He's lookin' for the fuse
I'm in the streets
With the tombstone blues

Where Ma Raney and Beethoven once unwrapped their bed roll
Tuba players now rehearse around the flagpole
And the National Bank at a profit sells road maps for the soul
To the old folks home and the college

Now I wish I could write you a melody so plain
That could hold you dear lady from going insane
That could ease you and cool you and cease the pain
Of your useless and pointless knowledge

Mama's in the fact'ry
She ain't got no shoes
Daddy's in the alley
He's lookin' for the fuse
I'm in the streets
With the tombstone blues

Copyright ©1965; renewed 1993 Special Rider Music

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