Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Bob Dylan: The Golden Years 1962-1978

This documentary, covering Dylan’s start in music to his conversion to Christianity, brings two DVDs together into one package: Tales from a Golden Age: Bob Dylan 1941-1966 and After the Crash: Bob Dylan 1966-1978.

Interviews with Dylan, more footage of him performing and the use of Dylan’s own music are the only things that could have made this collection better. But since this is an unauthorized documentary, we only get a few seconds of Dylan performing at the Isle of Wight and with Johnny Cash on the second DVD. The background music sounds like Dylan but is not performed by him.

Aside from these minor drawbacks, Dylan’s life and career are fleshed-out by a variety of music critics, friends and fellow musicians. Hailing from the U.K. and U.S. they provide much more than dry analysis. We get warm reminiscing from people who appreciate Dylan’s work. In addition to showing how vital he was in shaping modern music, we see his humanity and the influences that molded him. The critics expertly dissect his every album.

What intrigues me is how much they see. Their work is utterly fascinating. Like prophets they amplify the message of the songs. This is especially helpful when dealing with a person as mysterious as Bob Dylan, who can keep everyone guessing.

The narration, editing and video of this British production are excellent. You don’t have to be a fan to appreciate the production quality and the insightful analysis. Why Dylan would not contribute and authorize these documentaries is a mystery. He’s not portrayed in a negative light, and this serves as a tribute to a productive career that continues to this day.

This leaves you wanting to know the rest of the story. Let’s hope for more installments.
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