Dylan’s official videos: The deal, Dreaming of you, Here lies nothing

Research by Aaron Galbraith; silly comments by Tony Attwood

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Prelude: If you’ve not come across articles by Aaron and myself before, I should explain.  We live on separate continents, we’ve never met and we’ve never even talked on the phone.  Aaron does the research, and gives some basic guidelines.  I never know what’s coming up and I try to write comments as the song plays.   And when I am trying to comment on a video, that is quite hard.

Tony

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Aaron: For this article I thought we could leap forward to look at a few videos from the mid to late 2000s. Don’t worry we’ll go back in future entries in this series and review the other 80s and 90s videos.

 “When The Deal Goes Down” from 2006.

Judging by the videos we’ve looked at in the first article, would it be too cruel to say that in this instance they hit upon the magic formula for making a Dylan video. That is hire a great director, get Scarlett Johansson to star in it and keep Bob as far away as possible!

This was director by Bennett Miller. He directed movies such as Moneyball, Capote and Foxcatcher and has been Oscar nominated twice.

In the video Scarlett Johansson stars in a series of 50s era home movies, depicting fun scenes, scenes of melancholy and just everyday life in general. There are several nice touches, a glimpse of a Woody Guthrie book here, a Buddy Holly album cover there. I really love this video, for me it brings to life lines in the song such as :

“More frailer than the flowers, these precious hours”
“I heard the deafening noise, I felt transient joys”

A wonderful piece of work.

Tony: I really do know very little about film, so there’s no need to read my commentary, and most certainly no need to take it seriously.  I’m a writer and was a musician and those are the arts I understand.  Film – I enjoy watching, but I’m not a critic, so this is tough…

Here this doesn’t work for me because Bob is singing a lilting lullaby while the movie is jogs around and often goes at speed.   If anyone else feels this too, I’d like to know, because I’m seriously thinking of backing out of this double feature and letting Aaron (who of course selects the films as he selects the music in our other series) write the whole thing.

The problem is the video doesn’t hold my attention, whereas the music does.  I want to hear the lyrics and I am engaged by the gentle lilt of the song.  This is a distraction, and this column ain’t going very well is it?

Dreamin of you

Aaron:  Moving on to the next piece we have “Dreamin’ Of You” from 2008. An interesting video for this previously unreleased track from the Time Out Of Mind sessions, first released on Tell Tale Signs.

It stars Harry Dean Stanton as a Bob Dylan Bootlegger. The video follows his life as he travels from town to town, and gig to gig recording the shows and then compiling them into Dylan Bootleg CDs and DVDs to sell. It seems a pretty solitary life and seems to be bringing no joy to the man. In fact he looks down right miserable.

Again, I think this is a great piece of work and top marks all round for everyone involved! I was unable to find the name of the director anywhere but still kudos to him or her!

Tony:  Oh thank goodness.  This one I get and I like it.  And I disagree Aaron.  I think he does get into Bob’s music.  He lives a solitary life, but this music is all he can relate to.  Some people just can’t do social interaction – that’s this fellow’s problem.  But at least this way he can survive and admire from afar.

The light in this place is really bad
Like being at the bottom of a stream
Any minute now
I’m expecting to wake up from a dream

That verse above from the start of the song is where the guy is… in this strange dream world, where in a tiny way he can touch Bob and feel part of his greatness.

Means so much, the softest touch
By the grave of some child, who neither wept or smiled
I pondered my faith in the rain
I’ve been dreamin’ of you, that’s all I do
And it’s driving me insane

Just listening to the music as he copies it, he finds his connection with Dylan.  What really works is that as I listened I could imagine this being the music written to the video, as much as it is the other way round.

Maybe they’ll get me, maybe they won’t
But whatever it won’t be tonight
I wish your hand was in mine right now
We could go where the moon is white

He doesn’t want to be alone, he doesn’t want to be this outcast, but it is all he has.  There is nothing else.

And if a final confirmation was wanted just watch the ending.  I believe in the song, I believe in the film.  It works.

Maybe you were here and maybe you weren’t
Maybe you touched somebody and got burnt
The silent sun has got me on the run
Burning a hole in my brain
I’m dreamin’ of you, that’s all I do
But it’s driving me insane

“Beyond Here Lies Nothin’”.

Aaron: This one was directed by Nash Edgerton who is primarily a stuntman/stunt coordinator for many big budget movies (he was Ewan McGregor’s double in the Star Wars movies) but he also directed four videos for Dylan, so we’ll see more of his work in a future article in this series.

If you’re finding it hard to find any meaning within the video as it relates to the song then that might come down to how much access the director had to the track prior to filming the promo. Edgerton said of his approach by Dylan’s team to making the video “usually, you get sent a song and you listen to it a bunch and then you write a treatment. But because it was Dylan, and piracy and all that, I only got to hear the song once over the phone”.

Maybe Dylan and his people were concerned the guy from the “Dreamin Of You” video might get a hold of the song!

For me, it works as a short film. I love the way he introduces sound elements from the film to the soundtrack, keys jangling, doors closing, punches landing and a head being smashed into a wall! There is a moment when she slams the car door and it seems to fit perfectly in time with the music.

Maybe this video doesn’t provide any deep insight to the song, which is understandable in the circumstances but for me that’s ok in this instance. As it was for Dylan and his management team also as they invited the director back to make 3 further videos, so he must have done something right!

Tony:  Again a big yes from me.  The horror of the man who needs the woman so much that he has to restrict her to his apartment.  And all the way through to that ending.  Yes this works for me.  They can’t live together they can’t live without each other.  Beyond here lies nothing.  Absolutely.

So what am I concluding?  That somehow the beat and the rhythm of the music has to fit with the beat and the rhythm of the video.  Oh yes, and I like stories, rather than just a set of scenes.

OK, I’m not resigning.  Let’s give it another shot.

Untold Dylan: who we are what we do

Untold Dylan is written by people who want to write for Untold Dylan.  It is simply a forum for those interested in the work of the most famous, influential and recognised popular musician and poet of our era, to read about, listen to and express their thoughts on, his lyrics and music.

We welcome articles, contributions and ideas from all our readers.  Sadly no one gets paid, but if you are published here, your work will be read by a fairly large number of people across the world, ranging from fans to academics.  If you have an idea, or a finished piece send it as a Word file to Tony@schools.co.uk with a note saying that it is for publication on Untold Dylan.

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1 Response to Dylan’s official videos: The deal, Dreaming of you, Here lies nothing

  1. Tim Roach says:

    Beyond here lies nothin’ powerful film to song treatment of destructive / obsessive love addiction loved the way she stopped the car and put it in reverse, not to go back to him but to run him over. Then forgive him. Reminds me of Pat Benatar ” Love is a Battlefield “.

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