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World Tour, 1966 | Bob Dylan & the Footage of Drummer Mickey Jones, ’66 Tour

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World Tour, 1966
The Home Movies

Through the Camera of Bob Dylan’s Drummer Mickey Jones

What is it about Dylan, then and now, that makes that voice so damn sexy, so damn workable. I mean, I can listen to “Stuck inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues.” and I practically melt every time, especially when he says Your debutante knows what you neeeeed, but I know what you waaaant…” and that “oh, Mama, or “ahhhugh, mama.” It could even be crude coming from someone else, but from Dylan it is damn sexy.

On anyone else it would sound cheap and stupid, but with Dylan… as I said: never.

He can say pretty much anything and it sounds brilliant and sexy and smart and something I want to repeat and play over and over again, unless he’s messing with some interviewer’s head, which I’ve and you’ve seen him do often, in which case I’m amused and he’s charming but I don’t like that he’s soooo slippery. He could say a few words, just be kind. But that said, if everybody wanted a piece of me (no worries there…), I’d be the same way.

think, though I could be wrong, but the point is, for all of his great and brilliant lyrics, which, if you believe what he said in the Ed Bradley interview, are “over for him” as Dylan essentially was saying, which is bullshit, because if you listen to “Standing in the Doorway” and “It’s Not Dark Yet” the songs and the lyrics are brilliant albeit incredibly sad and the rest of the album, what can I say, likewise, I feel the songs are more than up to par, they are at least as good as the older stuff.

Yes, I’m partial to “A Hard Rain’s a Gonna Fall” and “All I Really Wanna Do” and “Don’t Think Twice” and you get the idea, I like all of those “older” (relative term, note) songs, but I’d be kidding myself and kidding you if said I didn’t like the new stuff as much.

Recently, I’ve been watching DVDs of Dylan, and other DVDs of lead-singer Joel Gilbert of Highway 61 Revisited, the only Dylan tribute band as he says so proudly and I think, hell, that’s sad even if it is true, and I’m not sure it is, because if that’s what you have going for you, that you live your whole life not being yourself, but trying to be Bob Dylan ~ to look like him, act like you think he acts, even try to wear your hair the same way and in one clip of a film I recently saw actually pretending to he is Bob Dylan, ya gotta wonder about the guy.

Isn’t there some law or something against impersonating someone or misrepresenting yourself in this way? And if not, couldn’t all look alikes go around saying they are whoever. If I were Dylan, I’d sue and I’d be pissed of, but that’s just me. I’m pissy and pissed of generally. Dylan maybe has a kinder heart ~ but I do too (argument with self going on). The point is who would want anyone impersonating themselves. I don’ care if mimicry is the highest or sincerest form of flattery. I get ticked off when I see a co-worker starting to even dress like me or wear huge glasses with my signature bob and glasses look (no, I didn’t start it, but you get the point… around here, anyway, in this small part of the world, it is mine. I’ve staked my claim here anyway. I digress… as ever).

Whoever you’ve been told you look like you, as Joel Gilbert invariably has, you could pretend to be that person, as he pretended to be Bob, so much so that he actually signed Bob Dylan’s “autograph” on some young and naïve girl’s jeans pant leg, though I noticed he was careful and wrote “Bob D. or some thing like that you know, “just in case.”

For my money, Gilbert doesn’t really look like Dylan. There are some very surface similarities, but that’s where the buck stops. But Joel is proud of his band and his collections and his documentaries no matter how dull and boring they may be or how ridiculous he looks up there prancing around pretending to be Bob Dylan. Ah well. To each his own, and yes, this is just my opinion…

Have you seen “World Tour 1966, The Home Moves through the camera of Bob Dylan’s’ Drummer Mickey Jones (yes, that’s the title of this somewhat obscure DVD).

Jones’s claim to fame is that he was there for the World Tour of 66 and that is his big claim to fame and hey, why not… But the problem is that he was there for that tour and essentially, that tour only. Yes, Jones has had other successes to be sure but not of the same caliber; he played with Kenny Rogers for ten years and to his credit, he does have several gold records, though it was left unspecified as to what, at least in this film it was. I would imagine mostly for his work with Kenny Rogers, but I don’t really know to be totally fair

Jones is a strange guy. He’s this big man, a huge guy not just in terms of height but in girth as well and with long, thin straggly reddish –blonde hair and a heavy beard that hangs way past his chin. He is a nice guy, for the most part, I think, but he’s definitely someone you’d run away from in a dark alley – or I would. That may be the reason he gets all these acting roles these days as “the thug’ and the “bad guy” in big pictures. So he’s having some success with that and I’m glad of it.

But Jones’s (and this is his real claim to fame) was the first drummer on Dylan’s electric tour, which according to him is often called “The greatest Rock n Roll Tour in History.” and hey, maybe they it was, but I doubt its really because of him, or if it was, boy has he lost his currency because now all he has all these home movies as his claim to fame and narrates them for this DVD in response questions to asked by – who else – you guessed it – Joel Gilbert – this DVD which has to be one of the most boring DVDs I’ve ever seen, especially about Dylan, because in reality, it’s not really about Dylan; it’s about Mickey Jones and Mickey Jones even pretending, he says, that he’s not blown over by the greatness of the moment, giving his twirly “whoopee finger” as he calls it over-and-over again when in fact, later, he will realize, just how truly important this time in his life really was, even he didn’t then. For chrissakes, he played The Royal Albert Hall in this tour… right? Isn’t that impressive?

At one point, Jones says, “you had to get a real job” to make a living. I wonder, did Bob Dylan have to get “a real job” and besides, wasn’t being a rock musician and a star and poet or whatever labels people have affixed to him, a fact of which I know he hates because he has said it enough times, isn’t that too a day job? Just because you aren’t successful doesn’t mean that those who aren’t really working or don’t have a day job. In fact, their job is probably ten times harder than yours. It would be far easier to work at a foundry as Jones did.

Yes, Mickey Jones is known and well-known at that and no doubt has talent, no question, though these days mostly as an actor and mostly for action films and played a handyman in Tim Allen’s successful television program Home Improvement and was also in the Billy Bob Thornton very excellent film, Slingblade). More, he had one of the longest running and most successful television commercials in all time for, of all things, “Breathmints.” If you recall, he was the fierce looking biker guy on the subway in this ad.

Jones was also known for his work with other bands, most notably with Kenny Rogers, to be sure, and his memories are of Dylan are important in some way, but as a person, he comes across as rather dull, self –impressed, and self-absorbed and I don’t feel good about saying that because he seems like a nice enough guy and maybe I’m just a horrible person. Yes, it was the greatest rock n roll tour in history, I wouldn’t’ disagree with that, but not because of Mickey Jones, or not him alone anyway.

One thing I find that plays deeply on my nerves is that Jones keeps showing us this finger-twirl that he does, a sort of “yeah this is all so beneath me” thing which he calls his “whoopee finger” and it’s insulting. It’s more than this, it’s affected… deeply so because it says that “this is no big deal” when clearly it was and it is. If it were not, he wouldn’t still be talking about. He does, to his credit say, “in reality, it was great to be there,” despite his whoopee finger and I’m glad he says so otherwise, I wouldn’t like Jones at all, and I don’t think he’s a bad guy. but a sad guy in a way.

Jones calls himself the “Behind the scenes guy” of Pennebaker’s Eat the Document, which was filmed during the same tour; the implication, that his is the “real” stuff that went on, while Pennebaker’s is just what the group and Dylan wanted to present. I’ve seen both and I think Eat the Document is a lot more real than anything Jones puts out, which is weird because both are technically real, but one feels inside and the other outside, and it is the reverse of what Jones says. One is just horsing around more, and I don’t believe that the tour was really just that or even 50% that, let alone the 100% or so that Jones shows us.

Jones also says the tour for him was, at the time, “just another gig” and was surprised when they got “booed everywhere they went” because it was Dylan’s first real electric tour and fans were expecting and had paid for , they felt, for “their” Dylan – the familiar acoustic folk boy they had come to know and love. Who was this unfamiliar and black-legged clad, those thin-thin, legs, stalking back and forth man – noneother than Dylan singing with his electric band.

The Band, interestingly, were known originally as “The Hawks” and became known as “The Band” simply because reviewers kept referring to them, rather derogatively as the “The Band” – in newspaper context and other reportage, “You couldn’t hear Dylan because the band was so loud.” and etc.

Who doesn’t know or remember perhaps that this was the famous ‘66 tour in which an audience member shouted from the blackness and depths of the crowd “Judas!!!” and Dylan coolly responds, “I don’t beliiieeeve yooouuuu.” in that cool and nasally and slow and easy voice of his that makes his songs so great. I mean, who but Dylan could get away with singing like that? Few…

And, according to Jones, the more the crowd booed, the harder his right foot got (he was the drummer) and the more Bob Dylan laughed and the harder they played. Someone even said, Play real fuckin’ loud, but Jones swears it wasn’t Dylan and to this day, so it goes, the matter is largely unresolved, but okay, so what. In the final account, is it that important?

Jones’s recollection of how Dylan “couldn’t wait” to get the acoustic guitar off his neck and the Fender Stratocaster on and how he “paced about the dressing room like a caged animal.” These sorts of observations are interesting, if they are true, and I see no reason for them not to be true or for us to doubt them.

He also tells us what we already know well, and this lends him some credibility, that Dylan never gave a straight interview and always played and one time, gave an entire interview with a puppet. Well, I’ve seen that myself on tape and DVD and if you’re a Dylan fan, then so have you.

It is interesting to see something behind the scenes, and yes, perhaps it’s worth the watch, but it’s still never going to be a real as he says behind the scenes of Eat the Document ~ it is just one mans view and it is largely self-serving and he’s still cashing in on it the way Joel Gilbert cashes and has cashed in on the Dylan phenomenon.

One of the most interesting moments of the film is not the footage that Jones took, but the few minutes for which he gave Dylan the camera and he shot. The result is a swirl of people and events, as if a kid with ADD had gotten a hold of the camera and like a bee, cannot settle on one thing or one person, but moves from thing to thing quickly, never settling. Maybe it was like that to be Dylan. Maybe you could never relax and you had to keep moving, like a shark who must swims even when he sleeps or he’ll get eaten as I recently heard of sharks in one film. The line reminded me of Dylan because everybody wanted something from him and he was just this kid from Hibbing at the time and it must have been hard and great but hard…

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About Sadi Ranson-Polizzotti

  • sonny

    dylan likes mickey to this day, but mickey was only a fill-in cause levon helm went home. there are plenty of dylan tribute bands.

  • HW Saxton

    Sonny, I’m glad you addressed that. I knew that the Hawks/The Band were backing him at the time but was wondering just where Mickey J. fit in the picture. From what I knew Levon Helm had always been their drummer way back from when they were the backing band for Ronnie Hawkins.

  • http://www.tantmieux.squarespace.com sade

    never said that Dylan didn’t like Mickey: i dont’ htink that’s true, as you said. and sure, there are plenty of Dylan tribute bands, but Joel Gilbert tries to present himself, or maybe even is “the official” Dylan tribute band – check out his documentaries, but you prob have, but that’s what he says.

    I think that in public he impersonates dylan, and i’ll be reviewing that documentary as well, is truly out of line and i wonder what the big BD would think of that… maybe he’d be cool w/ it. I dunno.

    I obviously am a huge Dylan fan and write about him a lot, so more than a fan, a journalist and a music critic… i think Mickey Jones has a lot going for him, but if you watch this particular video there is a sorry and a melancholy there because even though he was “supposed to play the orient” he says, and maybe so, he never did because of Dylan’s bike wreck. So who knows…

    either way, this was not a slam against Jones, and i didn’t intend to put words in Dylan’s mouth to be sure… and i’m sorry if it came across that way. truly …

    But yetah, Levon Helm was their drummer i believe but for 66 it was Mickey Jones who was called in for the job… though i guess by reputation ~~ i don’t know how he got the gig really. I would guess by recommendation etc etc.

    anyway…blah blah blah.. thanks for reading. hope i’ve answered some of your points. and they were good ones.

    be well,

    sadie

  • Yep, That’s Life

    Yes, Bob Dylan is very sexy, in his own, unique, non-mainstream way. I remember his movie Hearts Of Fire, (which is so incredibly horrible) but I would rewind over and over the part where he zips up his fly…ah, dang, I was seventeen and he was fourty something…;)