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March 23, 1969 - Image 3

Resource type:
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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1969-03-23

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aunaay, iaMbrcn , 1. THE MICHIGAN DAILY
From myths to manhood:

Page -

Perspectives
By ROBERT LYTLE Dylan by
MY FRIEND, ALAN, is not gone. He is still come part
here in Ann Arbor. He flunked out of school Dylani
last summer and I was afraid that he would a singer-
leave for Boston or Toronto or somewhere. haunted i
Though he has spent some time on the road sound col
since the summer ,he is basically still here. world of
Somewhere, generation
Alan and I spent most of the summer togeth- pretation
er, wandering stoned or drunk through the ica is "De
streets and people of Ann Arbor. During those through m
four months we went through a lot of shit to- I havel
gether and we got to know each other pretty ed to lear
well. And because I knew him in the summer, I ChicagoI
have a reference which not only highlights, but over again
defines his present perspective. On Blonde
Alan doesn't play suicide fantasy any- of reasons
more. And it isn't because of any one bad tense liste
scene or incident, it's just the days, the days works: Jo
of his life where, in spite of the bad scenes ground Ba
getting worse, he had to be a man. So he is Just as
a man. Revisitede
By now you should be asking the question. "Hard Ra
If this article is about Bob Dylan, why is it -so toot
about Alan? I go about trying to understand and the to
Dylan (and most other things) much in the attempt t
same way I have tried to understand and come these are I
to know Alan. I try to understand their perspec- In th
tives, the way they look at the world; I try to John Wes]
understand not only the events of their lives, but shadowedl
those events viewed through those perspec- pain), but
tives. I have come to understand Alan because of his pe
I have spent a lot of time with him in some stand som
strange situations. I have come to understand previous a
Dylan because he is an artist who has the ability HighwayG
to communicate the complex vision of his John Wes
world. are mosta
ATTEMPTING TO understand Dylan (or any ON TH
artist) in this way changes the nature of the Songbook,
understanding and shifts the emphasis from aes- "sensitivec
thetics and style to something that I have In most of
called perspective. This doesn't mean that aes- ing therei
thetics are unimportant-I was first attracted to place. Dyl

on Dylan

- within,

without

Y his haunting lyrics-but they be-
of a greater whole.
is an artist-he is a song writer, a poet
-he is an artist who creates haunting,
mages that bend to a rich, sensuous
lage. He has captured in his songs a
experience common to most of my
n and has provided an important inter-
of, perspective on that world. Amer-
solation Row" and "Highway 61" runs
ny back yard-no matter where I live.
learned from Dylan what I have need-
rn. When I was down and bitter after
I learned Highway 61 Revisited all
a. Last fall and winter I learned Blonde
e for the first time. Now, for a number
s (not the least being six months in-
ning), I am learning Dylans' last two
ohn Wesley Harding and the under-
asement tape.
the pain and madness of Highway 61
can be seen in Dylan's earliest work-
In", "Masters of War", "Hollis Brown"
the themes of John Wesley Harding
ape. The concern, the fierce caring, the
o deal with desperation and hurt-
the themes of Dylan's life.
e albums that immediately precede
ley Harding this concern is often over-
by the brutality of Dylan's vision (his
it remains one of the deepest sources
rspective. It is important to under-
ething of what happened in the three
albums-Bringing It All Back Home,
61 Revisited, Blonde on Blonde-for
tey Harding and the Basement tape
accurately seen in their reflection.
1E liner notes to the Blonde on Blonde
Paul Nelson spoke of Dylan as a
child who can't always find the times."
f the works before John Wesley Hard-
is a sense of being out of time, out of
an never found a place to rest, a

place where he wouldn't be houndedby his vis-
ions of America and America's children.
He peopled his songs with truly awesome
figures: The Masters of War, the goddesses,
Queen Jane, Johanna and the Sad-Eyed Lady.
The songs and people of these albums were not
of myth or\ parable; they were visionary, sur-
realistic; they were emotional impressions of
his world. (Of our world.)
And things haven't changed that much. You
can still walk down South U., stop in'the Wheel
or the Jug or the Satellite, read a few lines from
any newspaper . . . and immediately become
incapable of coping with anything for the rest
of the day. The old names and fears are still
there--in the papers and in your life: draft, Viet
Nam, conspiracy, anarchy, police, state.
But Dylan has changed. The perspective of
that change is reflected through John Wesley
Harding and the tape.
I dreamed I saw St. Augustine,
Alive as you or me,
Tearing through these quarters in
The utmost misery,
With a blanket' underneath his arm
And a coat of solid gold,
Searching for the very souls
Whom already have been sold.
"Arise, arise," he cried so loud
In a voice without'restraint,
"Come out ye gifted kings and queens
And hear my sad complaint.
No martyr is among ye now
Whom you can call your own,
But go on your way accordingly
And know you're not alone."
I dreamed I saw St. Augustine,
Alive with fiery breath.
And I dreamed I was amongst the ones
Who put him, out to death.
Oh I awoke in anger,

I

arts & letters
of Broadway

Give my regards to PART

By DANIEL OKRENT
IMON AND GARFUNKEL, for
a change, are right: "Is the
theatre really dead?" is the
punch line of the ultimate dang-
ling conversation. Most of us are
so tired of listening to discus-
sions of it that the question has
become irrelevant. Sure, thea-
ter's dead; that last week's Uni-
versity Players production of
The Cherry Orchard was so un-
stimulating is more a product of
a dictated theatre style and a
pre-determined repertory than
of the actual production.
But, outside of innovators off-
t off-Broadway .and in a few of
the nation's better repertory
groups, the theatre really is
dead. And it is deadest of all
along the 15 block strip of
Broadway that is flanked by the

largest collection of legitimate
theatres in the nation.
It is fairly easy to see what
has killed Broadway; the mater-
ials haven't changed as much as
the audiences have. Today's the-
atre-goer isn't so 'pure as his
predecessor of a decade or two
ago. Now, film is competing suc-
cessfully for his time, and un-
derstandably drawing him away.
Neil Simon puts lines together
as well as George S. Kauffman
did, and Bert Bacharach's songs
for Promises, Promises a r e a
strong match for the stuff Rich-
ard Rodgers once turned out.
But film moved beyond William
Wyler and George Stevens; it
can do everything the state can
do, and a hundred things more.
THE THEATRE FAN today
needs something new to bring

him in. We need more to impress
us, more to thrill us. If n o t
"more," we need "other." We
have to get something from the
stage which we can't get from
the screen.
It is important, then, which
straight plays are the greatest
critical successes this disap-
pointing Broadway season. The
three plays - Edwin Sherin's
The Great White Hope, Robert
Shaw's The Man in The Glass
Booth, and Peter Luke's Had-
rian VII - take full advantage
of theatre's greatest asset: in-
timacy. They are, for all prac-
tical purposes, one-man shows,
highly theatrical a n d stage-y
events which feature a single
actor ripping apart heart and
soul as he guts out his super-
emotional h o u r on the state,
reaches a sorry denouement, and
is heard no more. The audiences
walk numbly out of the theatre,
dazed and exhausted by the per-
formance of each play's respec-
tive star. James Earl Jones, Don-
ald Pleasance, and Alec McCow-
en, who play the lead roles in
White Hope, Glass Booth, and
Hadrian, are all that count. The
textual matter of e a c h play
gives the actors an arena for
the grand performance. The
actors give the audience some-
thing to feel, not just to see and
hear. The audience shares in
the experience to the point it

cannot in most of current film.
OF THE THREE productions,
o n 1 y The Great White Hope
qualifies as anything near "a
great play." It concerns the life
of early 20th century heavy-
weight boxing champion, the
Negro J a c k Johnson (fiction-
alizes here as Jack Jefferson);
and the series of "white hopes"
sent to take the crown away
from him. Jones, who leveloped
his acting abilities in the early
'50's as a student in the speech
department here, is a h u g e,
hulking black man, with a blind-
ing smile and an ability to por-
tray sullenness and anger like
no actor I have seen. He utiliz-
es his physically imposing pres-
ence as an extra tool in his act-
ing kit; he towers over the other
cast members as a physical
force as well as a psychic force.
His performance is superb, and
wholly devastating.
But the play itself is perfect-
ly suited for his kind of per-
formance. There are 22 actors
playing over 50 separate parts;
there are 19 full scene changes.
Director Edwin Sherin manipu-
lates his players and the timing
of the scenes to present nearly
a score of super-dramatic con-
frontations. Almost without ex-
ception, they feature Jones act-
ing his head off. Because of the
See, GIVE, page ten

So alone and terrified.
I put my fingers against the glass
And bowed my head and cried.
I put my fingers against the glass and bowed
my head and cried.
IN, ST. AUGUSTINE, Dylan came to grips
with his deepest feelings of fear and hurt. Dylan
had understood that man is just man and no
meant to bear the burden of saints. It is thi
sense of being of men, not of gods and goddesses
that is central to Dylan's perspective in Johi
Wesley Harding and the tape.
The album and the tape have neither the
childish omnipotence of Freewheelin', nor th
impotent raging of Highway 61 Revisited. Jo
anna and the Sad-Eyed Lady are goddesses ; John
Wesley Harding, Frankie Lee, the; joker and the
thief . . : they are men, they are mortal. The
mystery of the album is not visionary, no
mystic, but religious, of parable. When thi
mystery borders on the surrealism of Blonde oi
Blonde ("All Along the Watchtower" on the
album, "Wheels On Fire" on the tape), man i
enfolded in that mystery,, but is not a part o
it. His fear, his pain can create gods, goddesses
creatures of good and evil. But man is mortal, i
limited by death.
In John Wesley Harding and the tape, Dylan
is just a man and does not bear the burden o
Highway 61 Revisited or Blonde on Blonde. And
he speaks as a man of what he has seen and
felt, of how he feels man should live: with
compassion, with the hope of a day and a night
The mysteries are left to the gods.
THE BASEMENT tape is the fulfillment o
the philosophy of John Wesley Harding: Dylan
and the Band doing what they like to do mos
- making music. The songs are sometime
heavy, but often they are playful - very simila:
in tone to "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight". Bu
perhaps the most striking aspect, of the tape is
the sense of "song". The songs are just that-
meant to be sung. Not something more intense
not some other 'form masquerading in musi
(You wouldn't really call "Visions of Johanna'
or "Desolation Row" songs.)
Most of the songs aren't new, but to lister
to Dylan sing them is to hear them for the firs
time. "Tears of Rage" and "Wheels On Fire'
are very intense when the Band does them or
Music From Big Pink, but when Dylan sings
them, he's close to breaking. Someone once told
me that Dylan's voice was the most expressive
instrument he had ever heard. He turns every
word into a precise expression of emotion or
perspective. And on "Tears of Rage", he creates
an intensity that can't be resolved or released
There are many interpretations of Dylan's
work. All I have tried to do here is show yot
one aspect of the last two works: that Bob
Dylan, like Alan, has become a man. This is
not the only thing to be learned from John
Wesley Harding and the Basement tape; this
is not even the most important thing. In a
sense, this isn't an article on Dylan: it's an
article on understanding Dylan. And of course
the best way-the only way-to do that is tc
listen to him, to get into the albums. There are
no short cuts or easy lessons.
"A funny film with something to say, and
it will make you laugh. How many big-
time comedies can make that same claim?"
-Salmamoi

i

FO4ATJOAI. OTEA.CORPORA'rl th FIA L W E
FO FEASTERN THEATEc t i FIAL
FOXVIaGEn H K
375 No.MAPLE RD.-769.1300 Hurry, Ends Tuesday
NOMINATED FOR 4 ACADEMY AWARDS
* BEST PICTURE * BEST DIRECTOR *
"DAZZLING! once you see it, you'l never again picture
'Romeo & Juliet' quite the way you did before. - UFE

7 '

frr -

PROFESSIONAL LTHEATRE PROGRAM
presents
FStratford
Festival Theatre of CanadaI

j
GI t
Presents E
NO.5
by Yoko Ono
TWO VIRGINS
by John Lennon and Yoko Ono
PLUS
OTHER SHORTS
Mr. Lennon requests that the
members of the audience bring
their own instruments to create

'THE ALCHEMIST
with William Hutt, Powys Thomas,
Bernard Behrens
Directed by JEAN GASCON
MAR. 25, 26, 27, APR. 3, 4, 5, 6

(4

NOTICE!!! THE THEATRE WILL BE
CLEARED AFTER THE 7:00 P.M.
SHOWING FRIDAY & SATURDAY EVENING
* STARTS WEDNESDAY *

HAMLET

1111

HELD OVER

I Lla

I ~ m

<:> 1

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