Dylan’s official vids: Sweetheart, Clean Cut Kid, Jokerman, and Neil Young

By Aaron Galbraith (opening comments for each video) and Tony Attwood (replies)

Aaron: First up, it’s Sweetheart Like You, directed by Mark Robinson.

This is one of those videos we have had which appears to have regional restrictions.  Here’s a source that works in the UK

And this one works in the USA.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PpRKstHl7Y0

If neither work in your area of the world trying typing into the search engine “Bob Dylan – Sweetheart Like You official video” (without the inverted commas).

Aaron: Couple of things to note this time:

  1. Bob’s facial hair is very fluffy!
  2. His miming of the words is absolutely perfect. It’s almost like he is singing live.

Ok, so point one is a bit of a joke (although true!). Point two is interesting, this is really the first music video Bob ever made (Subterranean Homesick Blues excepted). Maybe he was taking it really seriously at this stage, maybe he enjoyed the process, maybe he thought he would have a hit? Who knows!

The lady playing guitar is also on point with her miming of the solo. Her name is Carla Olson and she went onto make a tremendous album in collaboration with Gene Clark, “So Rebellious A Lover”. As a thank you for appearing in his video Bob gifted her the (then) unreleased track “Clean Cut Kid”. She recorded it with her band The Textones and released it on their 1984 album Midnight Mission, a year before it appeared on Empire Burlesque.

So let’s have a mini episode of Play Lady Play and see what Tony thinks of the Textones early version of Clean Cut Kid (by the way, that’s Barry Goldberg on piano, for those following the Dylan as Session man series!)

Tony:  Clean Cut Kid is one of those songs that caused me to have a real bash against Clinton Heylin when I reviewed it, not because I disagree with his knowledge of the social sciences (which he attacks without evidence in his review) but rather because of his sheer and utter ignorance of the social sciences and what they have done to improve the human condition.   Hearing this again reminds me of the annoyance I felt at the time, and still do feel about people pontificating on subjects of which they know nothing.  And yes of course I do the same here, but I do at least make some attempt to admit the limits of my knowledge.

This is a good and bouncy version that seems to reflect the lyrics well, and that piano really does makes a good additional counterpoint to the overall pattern of the traditional rock band.   And it is an interesting song because its emphasis on the harm done to an individual by military service and war is much more in keeping with very early Dylan than latter day Dylan.

Dylan writing about the way individuals are manipulated by social settings and socio-economic  situations, has always seemed to me to be Dylan at his strongest as a message giver.    As I said in the review, “The message is awful, the music is bouncy and jolly.  Not a care in the world.  Just like the weapon manufacturers and the politicos who utilise them.”

Aaron: So, our second video of the day is this little promo for Jokerman, in which Bob invents the lyric video! This was directed by Larry Sloman and George Lois and is one of my favourite Dylan promos.

 

There are some really interesting images in this video, combined with the lyrics as they come up on the screen, sometimes to startling effect. I wish I had more knowledge on some of the art pieces on show, maybe someone can help us out in the comments below.

Images of Dylan through the years are shown along with the words:

Shedding off one more layer of skin,
Keeping one step ahead of the persecutor within

And then, shockingly, Hitler shows up to this line:

Manipulator of crowds, you're a dream twister

Brilliant, but shocking. I’m not sure who chose the images, if it was Dylan or the directors, or a mixture of all three, but for me they are spot on choices.

During the sections with Bob singing, again his miming is perfect and this time, tellingly he keeps his eyes closed whilst singing for almost the entire song. Only towards the end does he risk a peak, perhaps just to check that we’re still there with him.

Towards the end we see the Kennedys and Martin Luther King aligned with the line:

Only a matter of time 'til night comes steppin' in

And then Batman’s arch nemesis the Joker morphs into Ronald Reagan. Maybe a touch “on the nose” but it works for me.

I love this video, and song. Looking back at Tony’s review of the track from 12 years ago (!!Geez has the site being going that long!!) it would appear his opinion has somewhat different back to mine. I wonder if that opinion has changed any by now and if he will like the video as much as me?

Tony: Yes my opinion has changed quite a lot Aaron, both in the way that everyone’s opinion can change over time, but particularly because this was one of the earlier songs I reviewed.  Working my way through reviewing all 600+ songs by Dylan I’ve learned a lot more about Dylan through needing to make my own inner feeling overt in order to make the review intelligible.  But also the mere experience of writing the reviews has, I think, given me a much deeper understanding of Dylan.

When I get around to re-presenting all the reviews as a book, I think a lot of them will change just because of this deeper understanding of all the songs and what Dylan has been doing.  In a little way I have touched on this in the recent piece A song is like a painting, you can’t see it all if you’re standing too close which more clearly represents where I am now.

That’s not to say I expect anyone to take any notice of what I think; it is always a bonus when someone does.  But yes, my opinion on many songs is now very different from where it was 12 years ago.

Aaron: I do agree with Tony’s opinion expressed in previous entries that Dylan, and his label seem at a bit of a loss with how to approach music videos for his singles during the 80s.

Sixties contemporaries such as the two Pauls (McCartney & Simon) obviously still had the expectation of big hit singles well into the 80s and beyond (particularly Macca) and so had the backing of their labels, large budgets and their choice of off-screen creative talent, which meant they could produce amazing, inventive videos like Pipes Of Peace and The Boy In The Bubble, two of the most inventive and expensive videos ever made in their day. Someone like Neil Young who was in the same boat as Dylan when it came to an expectation of hit singles went the other way and made a string of endearingly goofy videos during the 80s, for track such as CSNY’s American Dream and his own Wonderin’ – from the same year as these two Dylan videos.

Tony: Oh this is sort of video I like.  Aaron – can’t we just do a series on goofy videos?

Aaron: Videos like this show what can be done on a relatively small budget and with your tongue planted squarely in your cheek. I’m not saying that Wonderin’ is a better song than Sweetheart Like You (obviously it’s not!), but if I was the video DJ at MTV in 1983 I know which one I would have on heavy rotation.

I still think that the Jokerman promo is brilliant!

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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.

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1 Response to Dylan’s official vids: Sweetheart, Clean Cut Kid, Jokerman, and Neil Young

  1. Peter F says:

    Larry Sloman’s account of making the Jokerman video: https://expectingrain.com/dok/jokerman/SlomanJokerman.html

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