My brother-in-law, a great Bob Dylan admirer, lent me the Martin Scorsese documentary No Direction Home, which I started watching during a work break on sunny, languid Easter Monday.
I was struck once again by the magic spun by the younger Dylan in live performances – the flashing of his incredibly blue eyes, the intimacy of his vocals between howl, growl and near syrupy smoothness, those implausible, unexpected but highly effective stresses, rises and falls. And the words, of course, the weird associations and juxtapositions. As in this perhaps most striking snapshot in Dylan’s Desolation Row series of images:
Cinderella, she seems so easy
“It takes one to know one,” she smiles
And puts her hands in her back pockets
Bette Davis style.
And in comes Romeo, he’s moaning
“You belong to me, I believe.”
And someone says, “You’re in the wrong place, my friend,
You better leave.”
And the only sound that’s left
After the ambulances go
Is Cinderella sweeping up
On Desolation Row.
(Bob Dylan, from Desolation Row, 1965)