March 8, 2021

The lies of Dylan and Scorsese in the documentary about the musician


Bob Dylan and Martin Scorsese premiered a fascinating documentary, and failed !, a few days ago. A brutal movie because of the painful beauty of Dylan's performances on stage. But irritating because of what it has of viscous postmodernism: to the real images, to the concerts and the conversations, to the tapes of the trips and the interviews with the artists and close friends, hypnotics, they have added others with actors who pretend to have taken part in the tour. The authors explain that theirs is part concert, part documentary and part feverish dream. They aspired to dissolve the borders between reality and fiction. That everything was a game to give more prominence to music and subordinate until opacarla history, often vulgar and boring. The criticism, saved four exceptions, has erupted in cheers. What great Bob and Martin who lie to us without fee through Netflix. But the appearances of the actors and the invented testimonies, for example, that of the false groupie, interpreted by Sharon Stone, they avoid Dylan the annoying process of getting entangled in one of the most complicated and fruitful periods of his life. To understand the majesty and the tricks that make "Rolling Thunder revue: A Bob Dylan story", an epic failure, it is convenient to rewind.

The year 1975, that of the Rolling Thunder, was important for Bob Dylan. It had already been 1974, when he played for two months with The Band, the formidable group led by guitarist Robbie Robertson and drummer Levon Helm. A brutal business: 30 days of performances in large venues, his first tour in eight years, which caused a demand of 12 million tickets. Pure and brilliant business sustained by an artist at the top and a virtuous group but in need of income, and who knew perfectly the vital and musical needs of Dylan. Not in vain The Band had accompanied him, with the absence of Helm, during the huge tour of 66, the booing of the purists, the fierce revisions of the repertoire and that incendiary "Like a Rolling Stone" that seemed to open the door to a black hole. They were also with the boss in '67, in Woodstock Woods, when they recorded together, with no other pretense than to have fun and record some models for other artists to publish versions, the so-called «Basement Tapes», the «Basement tapes», considered then as a starting signal for the "Americana".

From rock to carnival

With his pocket full, the prestige heightened and the economy safe after reunion with The Band, Dylan opened 1975 with the tremendous «Blood on the tracks». Perhaps the most complete and complex album, the most inspired, lucid, poetic and painful dedicated to the end of love in the rock era. But that work spoke of the breakup of his marriage to Sara, which was wafting, and journalists and onlookers were asking too personal questions. The always reserved and enigmatic troubadour composes and records a continuation, «Desire», burnished with circus airs and carnival sounds, sifted of beautiful exoticism and with the violin of Scarlet Rivera in the foreground. Everything coincides with his last attempt to return to New York, to settle back in the Village. An eagerness that he will give up when he realizes that fans do not give up on his obsessions and that the streets of Manhattan do not offer him the kind of anonymity he needs. Before leaving forever the city that encumbed him in the effervescent days of folk, before resigning to be another among the wealthy stars based in mansions of Malibu and Santa Monica, recover contacts, return to the old bars and the decrepit stages where He started his career, and he made a new tour in the antipodes of the 1974 model. The 75 will be something never seen before. A tour shared with other artists, who alternate their performances with theirs for more than it corresponds to the main track of the circus. They'll call it Rolling Thunder. Far from the big cities explore the secondary roads of the US and Canada. They go out into the microphone without the publicity protection. There's Bob Dylan and they're accomplices like Joan Baez, with whom he had shared lights and shadows in the early sixties, the former Byrds Roger McGuinn, the poet Allen Ginsberg, the singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell, who joins the ongoing tour, the disciple of Woody Guthrie and son of a Jewish dentist in Brooklyn, Ramblin 'Jack Elliott, or playwright Sam Shepard.

To back it all up, Dylan rides a huge band. With a sound that at times, thanks to Rivera's violin, seems like a deranged and hoarse symphony. With the contributions of virtuosos such as the multi-instrumentalist David Mansfield, an ace with the dobro, the mandolin, or the pedal steel guitar; the guitarist T-Bone Burnet, over the years one of the most respected producers in the industry and music adviser to the Coen brothers; bassist Rob Stoner, in charge of directing the combo; the drummer and pianist Howie Wyeth and, of course, the guitarist Mick Ronson, until then the right hand of David Bowie, and that arrived to scatter unexpected glam accents and sequins of sequins to the tasty sonic porridge of the rest. Plus the complement of a filmmaker, friend of Dylan, Howard Alk, to record everything that happened. The objective was to mount a film, "Renaldo y Clara", in which Dylan and the rest adopted different aliases and which was adorned with compelling examples of recitals. Right here begin the serious problems that plague the Scorsese documentary: far from recognizing the talent and work of an Alk who dies of overdose in 1982, with 52 years and in the recording studios that Dylan had hired, the Santa Monica Rundown, before paying a well-deserved tribute to the guy who worked with DA Pennebaker in the seminal "Do not look back" and filming and co-directing "Eat the document", "Hard rain", "Renaldo and Clara", etc., erased him from the story and put in their place an invented documentalist, Stefan van Dorp, played by Martin von Haselberg, husband of Bette Midler.

Did the environment influence?

And like this deception, another thousand: the alleged promoter that was not such, the political assumption … What do the sycophants respond? That I smelled the courage of Scorsese and Cia. for taking the focus from the vital anecdote and confusing the story. Rather it seems that music, no matter how much of the footage is occupied by Dylan's volcanic performances, matters little. We do not know how the arrangements are made, how they arrive at these versions or the influence that the environment could have on everything, between paranoid and euphoric, between hedonistic and vitiated, that was breathed. Not a reference to Sara Dylan, Bob's wife, whose marriage was starting to blow up. Not to the long list of lovers. Nor the writer Jacques Levy, co-author of many of the lyrics of "Desire" and artistic director of the tour. Much less to the painter Norman Raeben, who gave painting classes to Dylan while writing "Blood on the tracks" and always thanked him for helping him find new ways to focus on writing.

And all are nonsense and banalities, on account of the masks and makeup that Dylan wore, influenced by the "kabuki" and "Les enfants du paradis." Forget the references to Truffaut, which he liked so much. The songs are subtracted. Standing up for a sweeping Dylan. Everything else is missing while they waste tons of archival material. I hope someday I will publish a box with the video concerts. At the moment, it's time to console yourself with the tremendous boxet, 14 albums, which brings together the audios of a colossal journey. Of course, Bob Dylan is not created when he states that there was one more and blablablá. In case of doubt, remember that almost none of your companions appears singing and, even worse, that they are interchangeable with the invented characters.

(tagsToTranslate) julio valdeón



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