I have never been a huge Dylan fan. I have always had respect and appreciation for his ability to write. As a major Springsteen fan, I have always felt the huge influence Bob has had on Bruce. Outside of that I just never fully understood Bob Dylan. There is no doubt that no one has had an impact on the art of songwritting that Bob Dylan has. After watching Martin Scorsese's No Direction Home, I now understand the genius of Dylan. Scorsese is the parallel to film, what Dylan is to music. Scrosese brilliantly tells Dylan's story by combining rare live footage with well balanced dialogue from all those in the folk scene. From the Newport Folk Festival to some of Dylan's first shows with The Band, Scrosese uses the Dylan of today meshed with the young Bob to create an amazing narrative.
The film of takes us through Dylan's rise from a hungry music fan that "borrows" a friends records to an emerging artist who goes on a quest to find Woody Guthrie (he eventually does). Scorsese digs out some amazing footage and interviews and shows us the Greenwich Village folk scene. Dylan's stature as a cultural and literary icon is established through his love of Kerouac and his acknowledgment by Allen Ginsberg. Footage of Dylan playing with a young Johnny Cash, interviews with a grumpy and bitter Joan Baez and the stories of how Al Kooper came up with the organ line from "Like A Rolling Stone" become Scorse's supporting cast.
No Direction Home also takes us through the journey of Dylan's immense growth in popularity and rise in fame. He includes so many of the ridiculous press conferences in which you see Dylan's frustration in dealing with a mainstream that does not understand him. One of the more incredible aspects of Dylan's career that is so well captured in this film is how we see Dylan's musical growth from a folk artist to more of a rock artist. We see a lot of live footage from the height of Dylan's popularity in which he is blatantly booed for playing with a "rock band".
The most powerful message of the film is that music was not about your power or how much money you made. It was all about if you had something to say. Your ability to express a message was all the mattered. "No Direction Home" is another Scorsese masterpiece and Bob Dylan is an American icon that all generations need to take the time to understand.
Source: Jon Cohen
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