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Bob Dylan World Tours 1966-1974: Through the Camera of Barry Feinstein

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Directed by Joel Gilbert

Gilbert’s documentary will be many things to many people, depending on how deep your interest in Dylanology is. From its title, the documentary purports to be about two of Dylan’s most famous world tours as seen through the lens of tour photographer Barry Feinstein. Those tours took place during the years 1966, when Dylan decided to give up his role as the king of folk music to play electric rock ‘n’ roll, and 1974, when Dylan returned to touring after a self-imposed period of seclusion following his motorcycle accident. The Band backed Dylan on both tours and the 1974 tour can be heard on the album Before The Flood.

Feinstein is a very good photographer. His work has graced the pages of Time, Esquire, Newsweek, and Look. He shot album covers for Janis Joplin’s Pearl and Dylan’s The Times They Are A-Changin’. He worked as a cameraman on Easy Rider, Monterey Pop and even directed You Are What You Eat. Throughout the documentary we see a number of his photos of Dylan, most of which are revealed for the first time. He talks about the art of photography and the techniques he employed. He was asked by Dylan and Life magazine to cover the 1966 tour, which he shot in black and white only. Then he went out on the 1974 tour, adding color to his palette. The 1974 tour was Feinstein’s last because it was so good that he believed any other tour would pale in comparison.

The documentary appeared to be a nice tribute to a man who was a talented artist in his own field and was a witness to some memorable events in the world of popular music. However, when the documentary and Gilbert venture off to cover Dylan’s downtime between tours by retracing Dylan’s steps in Woodstock and Greenwich Village, we see the true purpose of the documentary is for Gilbert to live out his Dylan fantasies. Gilbert is the lead singer of the Dylan tribute band Highway 61 Revisited, wrote a book about Dylan’s guitar technique and even tries to appear like Dylan. The similarities start and end with the shirts and sunglasses he wears, though.

Gilbert meets with other people that had been in contact with Dylan regardless of their connection to Feinstein or even the tours in question. Gilbert interviews documentary filmmaker D.A. Pennebaker, who made Don’t Look Back about Dylan’s 1965 tour of England. Pennebaker was along for the tumultuous 1966 tour as well. Gilbert shows him some of Feinstein’s pictures and they talk a little, but not much is gained in the experience for the viewer.

Other segments get stranger and more off track. Gilbert interviews A. J. Weberman whose claim to fame is that he constantly harassed Dylan when he lived in Greenwich by going through Dylan’s trash, by recording and releasing the phone calls when Dylan asked Weberman to stop bugging him, and by having hundreds of people show up on the street outside Dylan’s apartment on his birthday. Weberman is shown to be a complete nut the longer he talks; he believes that Dylan put out a hit on him in a song, yet garners no sympathy when he talks about Dylan beating him up. While Weberman admits he was wrong for what he had done, there’s no reason to give him any more attention; however, he does make Gilbert’s Dylan obsession seem normal in comparison.

Gilbert also interviews Al Aronowitz who introduced Dylan and The Beatles. Aronowitz’ voice is almost unintelligible as he talks about the legendary meeting and how they all smoked pot together. It wasn’t until I did some research that I discovered it took place on August 28, 1964, which is two years before the ’66 tour, so I’m not sure why it’s included.

Gilbert is the main weakness of the project. He says that he keeps in mind the work of Pennebaker in the work that he does, but his choices certainly don’t reflect it. He makes bad decisions as the director, such as leaving in a phone-call interruption during the interview with Pennebaker. The footage is poorly put together and looks horrible. Some of the interviews are presented with the interviewee in a small box on the screen that moves around to different corners while the background is the same image from the small box, except that it is blown up and colorless. It is very distracting.

The worst sequence is an attempt to recreate Dylan’s motorcycle accident a la Hard Copy. There’s a lot of footage of a motorcycle in a sepia tone with the sounds of the bike idling and loud crickets. Gilbert rides on a Triumph motorcycle intercut with footage of him walking through a graveyard. The image is manipulated with special effects and sounds of a crash are added. It is unnecessary and unintentionally silly.

The film could have been a fascinating, hour-long look at Feinstein instead of the two-hour fan fantasy that is presented. I enjoyed learning about Feinstein and he takes very good photographs. The information about Dylan is interesting and informative, but things almost screech to a halt whenever Gilbert inserts himself. He even comes off like a jerk in a sequence in Woodstock when he messes with the mind of an old burnt-out hippie by telling the guy he is Dylan and signs an autograph for a young girl. Hard core aficionados will enjoy this video tour. Those with a milder Dylan appreciation will enjoy the photographs and history. I recommend renting it before you buy to see if it is what you want. I would have preferred a book of Feinstein’s work. Hopefully, this documentary will be the needed catalyst.

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About Gordon S. Miller

Gordon S. Miller is the artist formerly known as El Bicho, the nom de plume he used when he first began reviewing movies online for The Masked Movie Snobs in 2003. Before the year was out, he became that site's publisher. Over the years, he has also contributed to a number of other sites as a writer and editor, such as FilmRadar, Film School Rejects, High Def Digest, and Blogcritics. He is the Publisher of Cinema Sentries. Some of his random thoughts can be found at twitter.com/ElBicho_CS
  • http://www.mondoirlando.com Aaron, Duke De Mondo

    good stuff El Bicho. i picked this up today, and look forward to the interview with Weberman, a truly demented character.

  • http://gaelicstarover.blogspot.com Daithí Mac Lochlainn
  • http://ajweberman.com AJ Weberman

    El Bitcho is a good name for this little bitch who should be bitch slapped all over the real estate. AJ happens to be the only dude who can interpet Tarantula, who has any insight into Dylan’s symbolism and is willing to write about it. McCartney ain’t about to do this nor is Paul Simon nor is John Lennon of course. Check http://home.nyc.rr.com/dylanology/ and find out what Weberman has to say for himself.

  • Eric Olsen

    never trust anyone who writes about himself in the third person

  • http://www.mondoirlando.com Aaron, Duke De Mondo

    -COUGH-

  • Eric Olsen

    in a comment

  • ClubhouseCancer

    “…only person who can interpret Tarantula…”

    This is a lie. I speak fluent Tarantula, and have been Tarantuland’s official interpreter to the UN since 1975.

  • Eric Olsen

    El Bicho, very nice job – sounds very strange.

    Regarding AJ, hey, relative to Mark David Chapman, he’s hardly obsessive at all!

  • http://home.nyc.rr.com/dylanology Alan Weberman

    LAU: “Entering the pink (pinko – a Communist or Communist sympathizer) highway (express road to fame in America) – your black (doomed to failure, hopeless) mongrel (impure) vagabond (unfaithful lover), your rat (a traitor to your beliefs not involved in a fierce, unending competition for success, wealth) from Delphi (an oracle, a prophet) – now he shall tattle on your nauseous (rejected) bra (supporter – Dylan himself) – your hair (and will also expose the style of your art) in chains (linked and dependant on the socialist realism that came before it).” (Tarantula 1966)

  • http://home.nyc.rr.com/dylanology AJ Weberman

    Chapman – Lennon was close friend of mine sports fan.

  • http://www.mondoirlando.com Aaron, Duke De Mondo

    can i be a weberman too? last night i went through my neighbours garbage to see if any might be in the taliban. they weren’t, but i think one of them was Donovan.

  • ClubhouseCancer

    Duke, yer better off sittin’ home investigatin’ yourself.
    Hope you don’t find anything!

    Love,
    “Zimmy”

  • Eric Olsen

    Duker, kindly interpret “Sunshine Superman” based upon your refuse gleanings

  • http://bozoland.com AJ Weberman

    address yourself to the tarantula translations. Garbology is a science taught at several institutions of higher education and an accepted journalistic practice. What have you invented?

  • Eric Olsen

    The words of the late John Vernon come to mind: “Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son”

  • ClubhouseCancer

    For the life of me, I will never understand what drives a person to deliver the ultimate profane insult — one that would literally be illegal face-to-face — to someone whom they have never met.

    It’s sad, really. But above that, it’s just tiring to people who actually want to exchange ideas and information.

  • Eric Olsen

    yes, it is unfortunate when we have to edit and then ban people for being deranged fuckplugs

  • ClubhouseCancer

    Yes, and that.

  • Eric Olsen

    but then it would be unrealistic to expect temperate behavior from a documented obsessive-stalker-trash picker, wouldn’t it?

  • ClubhouseCancer

    That actually didn’t sound like the real Weberman, in truth.

  • Eric Olsen

    I wouldn’t know

  • Eric Olsen

    the IP for all the comments is th esame, and all but the last one link to his website

  • http://www.mondoirlando.com Aaron, Duke De Mondo

    really? wow. so we may have been in the presence of THE al weberman. well thats just absurd.

    Clubhouse, incidentally, i LOVE that song. heh. I did hear a version of it recently, well, couple years ago, were the references to communism were changed to terrorists. i thought it might have been todd snider, but a google search reveals only the lyrics to said ditty. Any ideas?

    And it turned out Sunshine Superman was about crows. I don’t know either. Hippies, man.

  • ClubhouseCancer

    Never heard it (“Talking John Ashcroft Blues?”), but I have been reminded of the song many times in the past three years or so, Duke. Sounds like a good idea.

    And if that WAS Weberman, whatever. I’ve had run-ins with him before. Boring.

    Is Todd Snider good? Heard of, but haven’t heard.

  • http://www.mondoirlando.com Aaron, Duke De Mondo

    todd snider is fantastic. There’s a thing hidden away in the back-pages (no pun intended) of my site, so far back that i have even included it in the brand-new look type stuff.

    http://www.mondoirlando.com/mondo_mash.html

    it’s just a few songs one after the other in one file, but there’s one of Sniders more comedic efforts up first.

    I intend to delete that page sometime soon, but not for a few days i’m sure.

  • http://www.mondoirlando.com Aaron, Duke De Mondo

    *haven’t even included it…

  • Eric Olsen

    wasn’t Snider the big hit at SXSW a few years ago, and Sandra Bullocks’ boyfriend?

  • http://www.mondoirlando.com Aaron, Duke De Mondo

    Eric, i dunno to be honest. I only came into contact with the maddeningly brilliant sonnabitch last year, via his East Nashville Skyline.

    Might i reccomend you point you iTune Kazaa or whatever in the direction of Ballad Of The Kingsmen, wherein Todd traces hysteria over the POP MUSIC and so on from Louis Louis to Marilyn Manson.

  • Eric Olsen

    I have at least one of his CDs – he was (is?) on John Prine’s label Oh Boy

  • http://www.mondoirlando.com Aaron, Duke De Mondo

    that’s correct, good sir.

  • ClubhouseCancer

    His presence on JP’s label is what recommends him, so I’m gonna try, although he’s got three strikes agianst him:

    1. “New Dylan” label
    2. “New Outlaw” label
    3. Sandra Bullock. Yuk.

  • Eric Olsen

    I haven’t listened in a while but I do remember liking him enough to play on my radio show

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    If you don’t like the fact that AJ looks like a nut in the video, don’t blame me. I am not the editor, so take it up with Gilbert. Of course, Gilbert didn’t make him commit the deeds of the past nor the words of the present. You can check out this video to see what Weberman has to say for himself.

    Just because Weberman thinks he understands “Tarantula” doesn’t mean he actually does. The fact that he bootlegged the book and sold it in the streets ruins whatever credibilty he has. He’s a parasite.

    Weberman didn’t invent garbology. He says he was the first private citizen to do it. The FBI and CIA had already been practicing it, so what did Weberman invent, other than maybe celebrity stalking?

    Let me know when you want to back up the bitchslap comment. I’ll beat the crap out of you like Dylan beat Weberman.

  • Eric Olsen

    I thought he WAS Weberman

  • http://www.mondoirlando.com Aaron, Duke De Mondo

    good lord! Could we get some kind of reality TV thing set-up. Dylanologist Wars! Al Weberman takes on various Dylan fans. And then goes through their garbage to prove that they may not know it yet, but really, turns out they’re the messiah.

  • Eric Olsen

    or in the Taliban

  • http://www.mondoirlando.com Aaron, Duke De Mondo

    or both! it’s the beard, i’m guessing.

  • Eric Olsen

    whatever happened to that one-eyed Taliban fuck Omar?

  • http://www.pieman.org aron kay

    hey el bicho, this is the pieman …. you write one more derogatory remark about aj weberman and be forewarned a cyber-pie is on the way … dylan told aj that his selling tarantula spurred him onto publishing it … therefore its not gathering dust in a storage locker in woodstock

  • Punkrod

    Does anyone know how I can hear the conversations Weberman recorded with Dylan? When Dylan called him to berate him.

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