Tangled Up In Memory
September 27, 2005 5:25 AM   Subscribe

I just LOVED part one of the Bob Dylan biopic on PBS last night, "No Direction Home" by Martin Scorsese. There was a poem by Dylan Thomas that was quoted by one of the interviewees, and I think it had to do with reflections, at the end of life, at foregone opportunities. I have tried to find that poem online this morning, but I can't. Can anyone help?

I don't remember enough to even quote it, but I will sheepishly say I remember a reference to "loins" or "thigh" being shrouded in modesty or somesuch.
posted by swlabr to Media & Arts (18 answers total)
Is it Lament? It includes the line 'Modesty hides my thighs in her wings.'
posted by misteraitch at 5:50 AM on September 27, 2005

misteraitch has it. It was great, I recorded it on my PVR box... I was disappointed that it wasn't available in HD (but maybe that's just my local PBS affiliate, WNED).
posted by lowlife at 6:12 AM on September 27, 2005

Y'all don't miss Part 2 tonight! And thanks for the lead on the poem! I am so glad I figured out to Ask [you] MetaFilter!
posted by swlabr at 6:14 AM on September 27, 2005

That's it, misteraitch. But it is not how I remember it. Funny, how poetry, read well, can capture or evoke so much more than the cold type absent to the unity of the red wine.
posted by swlabr at 6:20 AM on September 27, 2005

Sorry for chatting, but that show was like some sort of conversion experience for me, too. I knew Dylan was a genius, but, man.
posted by Miko at 7:22 AM on September 27, 2005

lowlife, it wasn't in HD on WETA (DC area), either.
posted by amarynth at 7:29 AM on September 27, 2005

I know this is wrong, but I'm coming in here just to say how god damn bad ass that first part was. I've never seen him actually participate actively in an interview. Generally he tries to obfuscate or play the role of the puckish mystic. He must really like Scorcese. And holy God it's always a treat to see actual footage of Woody Guthrie singing. Blown away by the whole thing I was.
posted by spicynuts at 7:42 AM on September 27, 2005

You'll love part ii. Far better than part i. Personally, I thought the documentary was very weak, especially in contrast to Don't Look Back.

Gotta admit, though, that I thought the footage of Dylan riffing on the signage on the pet store columns was fantastic.
posted by dobbs at 9:19 AM on September 27, 2005

I've heard lots of good things about it at work today. Anyone willing to make me a tape or burn me a dvd? I'll fund it, of course.
posted by TurkishGolds at 9:28 AM on September 27, 2005

Duh, nevermind. I just check the listings and it 's going to reair on Saturday.
posted by TurkishGolds at 9:31 AM on September 27, 2005

TurkishGolds, it came out on DVD a week ago. Any good video store should have it for rent.
posted by dobbs at 9:43 AM on September 27, 2005

It was released on DVD last week; you can rent it at Netflix. Surprisingly, there’s no wait on it out here in the PNW.
posted by dpcoffin at 9:45 AM on September 27, 2005

*bites tongue over Dylan genius claims*

The first part was brilliantly engaging for me because of fantastic moments like the jaw-dropping performances by both Odetta and John Joseph Niles (I think that's the name?), as well as the young Maria Muldaur, and Pete Seeger, bless him, and Joan Baez with that cut-glass voice. It was more than worthwhile just to watch the show for them, and for Woody Guthrie, of course.

And there wasn't so much Dylan that my hagiography/mass wankage meter was red-lining every three seconds, though it was close. I'm sure that'll come in part two, but I'm off to see Sigur Ros tonight instead, thankfully.
posted by jokeefe at 1:24 PM on September 27, 2005

The segments of Dylan talking to the camera are ten years old, from his own production companies archives -- not from an actual interview with Scorcese. His manager was the interviewer. Scorcese nicely wrapped and spliced.
posted by thinkpiece at 1:50 PM on September 27, 2005

And there wasn't so much Dylan that my hagiography/mass wankage meter was red-lining every three seconds, though it was close.

That's the thing -- I'm not a Dylan fan. I watched this FOR the other people, since I'm a folklorist and a Woody Guthrie fan and interested in the revival era. I was thrilled with how much context they gave the early Dylan, and also with how clearly they showed the disappointment within the older folk groups when Dylan showed signs of independent thought.

*bites tongue over Dylan genius claims*

And genius? Yes. Here's why I'm thinking that. He was immersed in this incredibly rich cultural environment that combined traditional song forms, political foment, and beat creativity. Everyone in the scene at the time had the same access to the same influences; yet only he became a startlingly inconoclastic writer, able to extract powerful nuggets of meaning from chaotic times and manipulate language in a truly unheard-of way. Somehow he managed to focus all the energies of the time and return it in a furious and utterly original output. And he clearly didn't slow down to consider whether or not he was on the right track. For all their heartily desired 'authenticity', no other performers in the folk brigade were blazing trail. The word "genius" means "extraordinary intellect or creative talent". Do you really question the idea of calling him an 'extroadinary creative talent'?
posted by Miko at 6:57 PM on September 27, 2005

Of course Dylan is a genius. You can like his voice or not, like his style of music or not, but to think that people are calling him a genius because of some combination of hype and mass hypnosis is to show a lamentably closed mind (like those poor old folkies who still can't get over the fact that their beloved Bobby didn't want to keep writing songs about Emmett Till). The man has it, whatever it is.

And dobbs, why did you think it was weak? Even my wife, who hates Dylan, was riveted by the documentary. It's Scorsese, for chrissake -- he doesn't do weak.
posted by languagehat at 7:12 AM on September 28, 2005

languagehat, it didn't offer up anything new, really. I kept waiting for it to tell me something (anything) I didn't already know, and it didn't. I suppose it's a nice primer but, as I said, i thought it paled compared to Don't Look Back. Have you seen that?

It's Scorsese, for chrissake -- he doesn't do weak.

You obviously haven't seen the "Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues" dvd box set. One of the worst experiences I've had with documentaries. Or the blues. I couldn't even finish it. Embarassing.

Scorsese hasn't made a good documentary since Steven, though admittedly that one's a masterpiece and hard to top.
posted by dobbs at 9:51 PM on October 1, 2005

to think that people are calling him a genius because of some combination of hype and mass hypnosis is to show a lamentably closed mind

Coming back to this belatedly and probably fruitlessly, but: ouch, LH. Does it really show a closed mind to question prevailing orthodoxy about a cultural figure? Aren't we as thinking people constantly engaged in valuing and revaluing the significance of cultural works? Isn't this partly what this documentary itself is attempting-- though in this case it's not investigation but canonization? I've literally spent my whole life with Dylan's unquestioned greatness held as a fact, like the existence of the atmosphere. My parents were sort-of folkies, and Dylan was some of the first poetry I was exposed to. I preferred Phil Ochs when I was 8, and I still prefer his work now (and that was a name oddly absent from the first part of the documentary-- I haven't yet seen the second). I've heard Dylan called a genius for years, and I'm not denying his importance in his moment: I'm just unsure what his legacy outside of that moment might be. And yes, I'll admit that part of my reaction is a kickback at boomer nostalgia (of which this film seemed to me a prime, and smug, example) but again that is part of watching the culture grow and change. I think it's fair to question when cultural figures are put so firmly in the genius pantheon as Dylan was in Scorsese's documentary; otherwise how can we judge their real achievements?
posted by jokeefe at 10:28 AM on October 9, 2005

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