For the second year in a row, the Asbury Park Music and Film Festival offered an approximately hour-long peek into rare and, in some cases, never before publicly screened clips from Dylan’s own archive, which have been purchased by the University of Tulsa, and are now part of the Bob Dylan Archive there.
As he did last year, Dylan’s manager Jeff Rosen, who is on the festival’s board, guided viewers through the clips and gave a little background on each one.
Three were many captivating moments, with the highlight, for me, being a version of “Tangled Up in Blue” from Hughes Stadium in Fort Collins, Colo., in 1976. The clip was made for Dylan’s “Hard Rain” television special but not included in it, perhaps because it’s such an eccentric performance. Dylan changes the song’s arrangement and tempo so many times he astonishes even his backing musicians, yet he never seems to lose touch with the song’s emotional thread.
These are the event’s other 10 clips, in chronological order (as they were shown):
“Talking World War III Blues.” From a Canadian TV show, “Quest,” taped in February 1964. A really weird clip, with Dylan pictured as a Woody Guthrie-esque troubadour, singing his wry lyrics to a bunch of rugged guys sitting around in a rustic cabin. Sometimes they ignore him, but at other times they make an effort to get into the spirit of it and laugh at his jokes.
“The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll,” from “The Steve Allen Show.” A good performance, from just a few weeks later, of this Protest Era classic, preceded by an excruciating awkward interview by the resolutely square Allen.
“Love Minus Zero/No Limit.” An outtake from D.A. Pennebaker’s “Don’t Look Back” documentary: A solo acoustic performance of the song, played in a London hotel room in May 1965, with Donovan and others looking on. The transformation from earnest folkie (in the two previous clips) to surrealistic poet (“Statues made of matchsticks crumble into one another”) in a little more than a year is incredible.
“It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry.” Just two months later (July 1965), Dylan is now in full-blown electric rocker mode in this performance from the Newport Folk Festival, buoyed by Mike Bloomfield’s muscular lead guitar.
“One Too Many Morning.” A majestic performance from the 1966 European Tour with the band that would basically turn into The Band (featuring Robbie Robertson, Rick Danko, Garth Hudson and Richard Manuel). Danko (who sings backing vocals) and Robertson are visible at times. If I remember correctly, there’s just one shadowy image of Manuel, and none at all of Hudson.
“Hurricane.” A tight, focused performance of the then-new single from the Rolling Thunder Revue in 1975, with some great footage of violinist Scarlet Rivera.
“Blowin’ in the Wind.” A gospelly rendition from a 1981 arena show, with Al Kooper on organ.
“License to Kill.” A 1984 performance from “Late Night With David Letterman,” with just three other musicians: drummer Charlie Quintana and bassist Tony Marsico (both of the Latin punk band The Plugz) and guitarist J.J. Holiday.
“Weeping Willow.” Recorded live at an unusually intimate venue, The Supper Club in New York, in 1993. Dylan never performed the Blind Boy Fuller song before or after this night.
“Once Upon a Time.” Some sweet (well, as sweet as Dylan gets) crooning from last year’s TV special, “Once Upon a Time — Tony Bennett Celebrates 90: The Best Is Yet to Come.”