(Photo by Chris Davis)
On June 11, we had the pleasure of watching a premiere of Martin Scorsese’s “Rolling Thunder Revue: a Bob Dylan Story” at the Circle Cinema in Tulsa. (More about Tulsa in a blog soon. Some great things are going on there, and it/they keep drawing me to this city. The Bob Dylan Center is coming soon with all of Bob’s papers and archives being housed close to the Woody Guthrie Center.)
This was a great evening of great music and entertaining while catching some unseen footage of this rollicking good time that Maestro Dylan put on back in 1975.
The film is a uber entertaining, and I found my self laughing throughout. The newer interviews, especially with Bob, are fascinating and hilarious at the same time. I don’t want to spoil some of it, but it’s even funnier when you realize that some of the film is a hoax. Dylan sums it up early on when he says, “Everyone is wearing a mask.” And, really it’s true. We all wear masks and let people see whichever version we want them to see. At different times in our lives, we wear different masks. We’ve all put on a “brave” face or acted happy when we were dying inside. We’ve all had times where our poker face didn’t last five seconds.
The live concert footage is compelling and there are some great renditions of Desire-era Dylan tunes. His visit to Jack Kerouac’s (shout out Ti Jean) grave in Lowell, Massachusetts with poet Allen Ginsberg is three rivers of poetic charisma intersecting. Also, the “Night of Hurricane” and his visit to meet the falsely-incarcerated boxer Rubin Carter reminds one that artists have been speaking out for as long as there have been artists.
Another poignant scene was footage from the previous film “Renaldo and Clara” featuring Dylan and Joan Baez. They talk about love, and when Bob says Joan got married on him to someone else, she replies that she “thought she was marrying the right person” to which Dylan quickly corrects this mistake by advising that you have to love with the heart and not the head. While there’s some of the typical acerbic Dylan in that, it really hit home with me. How many times does love defy logic? Almost on a daily basis. You can see it everywhere. I know I have seen and felt it in my own life when I thought I was unlovable and know the times that I still am hard to be around and deal with, I’ve still been enveloped with the love that helps me endure another day thanks to my wife. But, I’ve also been carried through by the love of friends and acquaintances that gave me a smile or the gift of time or friendship.
Making the premiere even more fun was the attendance of Larry “Ratso” Sloman, who chronicled the original Rolling Thunder Revue for Rolling Stone and wrote a seminal book on the topic. This was the first chance I’ve had to visit with Ratso, although I’ve felt that I’ve known him for years through the writing of Kinky Friedman and am looking forward to seeing both he and Kinky again in January.
The movie is on Netflix, so check it out. It’s well worth your time and gives some great glimpses into that era.