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Bob Dylan 971226 on TV: Kennedy Center Honors

Bob clapping and pointing

Bob wears a crooked smile

Shirley Caesar

Wolf whistle for Laureen Bacall

Subject: notes from kennedy center... From: Christine Consolvo ( Date: Sat, 27 Dec 1997 14:18:42 GMT ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ "I look forward to an America which will not be afraid of grace and beauty. I look forward to an America which will reward achievement in the arts, as we reward achievement in business or state craft. And I am certain that after the dust of centuries has passed over our cities, we, too will be remembered, not for victories or defeats in battle or in politics, but for our contribution to the human spirit." John Fitzgerald Kennedy ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Walter Cronkite had this to say in introduction of Bob: A poet with the iron ore of Duluth, Minnesota in his voice, who became the Rolling Thunder of American music. The Rolling Thunder part really got Bob's attention... Since they were to save the best for last (the Dylan portion came about 1 & 1/2 hours into the 2 hour show) it was good that Lauren Bacall was the first to be honored. Good because Dylan was seated at her left in the balcony, so we got to see him quite a bit as they panned for her reactions to the entertainment directed her way. As always, he seemed a misfit in the crowd. Like an unruly child placed among well-behaved adults with hopes that their actions will rub off. He stuck out like a sore thumb. While all others sat smiling and clapping, there was no telling what you might catch him doing. Even his clapping is a bit odd...fingers spread, slowly touching hands together, but obviously no sounds could be emanating from them. Another time, I saw him lightly pounding his palms on his thigh tops during an applause portion of the show. While others sat with posture always in mind, he, at times, was seen to be leaned over to the balcony rail, elbows on his knees and hands covering his mouth. But those eyes...they never stopped shifting. Expressions...he would just run 'em down. In three seconds he could show as many different thoughts written all over his face. Even with mouth tightly covered, those eyebrows were working it! He was decidedly disinterested in the crowd-rousing tribute to Jessye Norman. As the building resounded with everyone, including Norman who was seated on Bob's left, singing He's Got the Whole World In His Hand. Each time the crowd came to their feet, Mr. Dylan was the last to rise. I'm surely projecting, but I felt certain that he sat dreading the time it was his turn to have the focus of this large crowd (and the country/world). I sat wondering through the show and the several types of entertainment...does Dylan like this? Do you suppose he enjoys ballet? This awful musical scene being enacted with a woman and her baby...did he find art in it that I could not? I'm still wondering... I had heard Bob requested that not only his older music be highlighted in this honoring so I was surprised by the filmed bio. It began with Man In the Long Black Coat, yes, but only as an instrumental intro... none of the words were played, then straight into the songs you might expect to hear. Most of the Time was also worked in somewhere, but only to a most minimal degree. Blowin' was majorly highlighted, as well it should be, but for my tastes it was played for too long a time while we were left to gaze at a young photo of Bobby in a rebel stance. Made me squirm. This is how Gregory Peck's portion of the tribute to Bob went: "When I was a little kid in La Jolla, California, which is a very small town, we had a parade on the 4th of July and I remember clearly the sight of Civil War veterans marching down the main street, kicking up the dust. The first time I heard Bob Dylan, it brought back that memory. And I thought of him as something of a Civil War type. A kind of 19th century troubadour. A maverick American spirit. The reediness of his voice and the spareness (?) of his words go straight to the heart of America. Some time ago I bought a new Dylan album and I was listening to a song called Brownsville Girl (come on now...are we really to believe that he just happened to listen to it?) and I heard these lines: There was a movie I seen one time. I think I saw it through (sic) twice. It starred Gregory Peck. He wore a gun and was shot in the back. I just can't get it out of my head. Dylan was singing about a picture that I made called The Gunfighter about the lone man in town with people comin' in to kill him and everybody wants him out of town before the shooting starts. When I met Bob, years later, I told him that meant a lot to me and the best way I could sum *him* up is to say - Bob Dylan has never been *about* to get out of town before the shootin' starts. Thank you, Mr. Dylan, for rocking the country...and the ages." Then the film clips began which Mr. Peck also narrated: (Man In the Long Black Coat) "He is a man of music. A poet. A teller of tales. His birthplace was Minnesota, a land of small towns and nowhere to go. His teachers were the poets he read and the music he listened to. He took from here and there and stirred it into the music that already ran through him. He left Hibbing one night in a snowstorm and headed to New York. To Greenwich Village where protest and dissent were strung on a guitar. (Talkin' New York) Though he was just a kid, he was a keen observer. He looked out on America and told us what he felt. (Blowin', Masters) His cadences prodded and provoked. His words cut to the quick. (Time's Changin') His songs became the rallying cry for a generation. The anthems of their time. (She Belongs To Me) He turned his songs inward. And with a rush of poetic images, he took us deep inside. (Tambourine Man) Then he expanded the canvas. Plugged in to rock 'n' roll. (Rolling Stone) He exploded the form. Shot it through with ideas that made us think. It was a restless reinvention of the music. Album after album. (Stuck Inside) In time, the children of the children would take up his songs as their own. (JLAWoman) Who is this fellow Bob Dylan? He is surprises and disguises. He is a searcher with his songs. (Tangled) (Most of the Time - "I can survive and I can endure") In him we hear the echo of old American voices. Whitman & Mark Twain...blues singers, fiddlers and balladeers. Bob Dylan's voice reaches just as high and it will linger just as long..." Now it was time for a standing ovation. Again, he had to be prodded to stand at all (so humble), then he stood awkwardly as the house came to it's feet. Lauren Bacall finally decided to break up the uneasiness she sensed (my call) and leaned over to give him a kiss which was gladly accepted. Then it was definitely *his* idea to turn and get first one, then another smooch from Jessye Norman. She left some lipstick on his cheek, then reached over to rub it off...nice touch. When Springsteen started into Times Changin' I just had to cringe. Now, I really like Bruce and thought that, no matter what had been said about this rendition, I would enjoy it. Well, it was awful to these ears. It was obvious that he was imitating Bob, but it just came out like such a put-on (almost a put-DOWN). Bruce affected a pseudo-Okie accent and squawked out the lines. The not-so-hot harmonica playing was the only relief during this song...and that's not saying much. Don't Think Twice has always been on my list of favorites and David Ball did a great job of it. Took it right to the country radio station where it always belonged. What a wonderful tribute. It was nice to see G. E. Smith having such a good time with it. It was rather humorous to see President Clinton singing along to this one and, at one point, he turned to Hillary, smiled and took her hand like it was some kind of love song! Now, the absolute high point had to be Shirley Caesar's Gotta Serve Somebody. She added a short, appropriate intro then jumped into the song with both feet. Finally, the first genuine smile crossed Dylan's lips. We're having fun *now*! She embellished the lyrics with a couple of "make up your mind to come over to the Lord's side" to keep things interesting. Again, G. E. was grinning from ear to ear and the whole audience was clapping along. A stirring tribute... Amazingly, Bob was most animated for the singing of America, the Beautiful. He really appeared to get into it. Perhaps all the applause had gotten him into the mood to perform! Just thought I'd mention it... Christine
Subject: Complete Kennedy Center Review From: Mike Brann ( Date: Sat, 27 Dec 1997 22:32:13 -0600 Well, I just finished watching the show. If anybody'd like a copy, feel free to e-mail me. Anyway, here's a rundown of the night, centered on Bob. It started out with the introductions from Walter Cronkite. They showed Bob; he was looking a little--make that a LOT--tired. Sorta like he didn't want to be there. Almost like he wasn't all there, but I think we all can understand that Mr. Dylan hates it when people just gush and praise him, and treat him like some martyr instead of a person for hours on end; but that's what this night was all about. He looked a little peeved at first, but seemed to loosen up as the night wore on. Throughout the night, Bob seemed to be acting very Chaplin-esque, rather giddy and fidgety. He displayed a rather silly demeanor, made some odd faces constantly, clapped like he had something wrong with his motor skills, and frowned when people talked about him, as if to say, "hmm... I never really saw it that way." I think he was just feeling shy, and acted cool and funny to keep from blushing. He seemed to be amused by the whole production. Anyway, they showed a scene from earlier that day with Pres. Clinton gushing about how great each one's contributions were, and everyone stood and clapped (of course). Bob looked around as everyone else stood and finally, reluctantly stood himself. Trampish indeed. I'm pretty sure his mother was the guest of honor, seated behind him. Nice looking lady; she smiled a lot and seemed to enjoy herself. Lauren Bacall was to his right, Jessye Norman to his left. Pres. and Mrs. Clinton were to his far left. They first honored Bacall. After showing the video, everyone gave the standard standing ovation. Bob gave a wolf whistle (anyone else catch that joke?) Methinks Mr. D has a little crush on ol' Lauren, judging by his flirtish attitude towards her throughout the night ;) So then they cut to a commercial break, and I expected Bob would be honored next, figuring they were going alphabetically. Not so; the next honoree was the dancer guy, Edward Villeva (excuse the name butchering there). The performance and video seemed to really drag its feet there. The next honoree was singer Jessye Norman, another person with work I'm not familiar with. While Sidney Portier was giving his whole spiel, Bob sat with chin in hands, looking bored. Then they had this whole over-the-top thing where everyone stood up and sang "He's Got the Whole World in his Hands." Bob stood, again reluctantly, but didn't sing. And believe me, Bob's surly attitude was definitely becoming obvious to viewers. His demeanor was probably coming off as bratty to unknowing eyes, which is a shame. Mrs. Zimmerman was sure enjoying it all, though, which is nice... And there it stood at 10:00, the thing halfway over with only two guests to go. I assumed Bob was to be up next, to make Heston the finale. I wondered how they would split up the time. 30 minutes for Bob, 30 for Charlton? 40-20? 50-10? Hopefully. Instead, next was a short teaser to some Broadway play which Bob seemed to want to sleep thru. So of course I was surprised to see Mr. Heston go up next. Looks like Bob would be the big finish! I didn't really pay much attention to Charlton's whole bit, I'll probably re-watch it again some other day. But I did notice he would sit stone still like a proud statue, and a few seats down there was fidgety Bob, every couple minutes giving that "Oh man, we have to stand up and clap some more? I'm gettin worn out" look. Interesting juxtaposition. Obviously Mr. Dylan was honored last, with Gregory Peck shuffling out and reading a few lines from "Brownsville Girl," and said Bob was never one to keep his guns at his sides (or something to that effect, anways). He also compared hearing Bob to seeing Civil War veterans as a child, both with their endless journeys and long battles, representing the American struggles and hard times, etc. etc. Leave it to Gregory Peck to give me goose bumps all over. The camera showed Bob giving a hard frown during that time, but I think he was just trying not to blush. The video followed, cliched as everyone expected. The video's clips and sound bytes focused mostly on the 60's of course, but had a couple well-placed clips from Oh Mercy. They implied that Bob Dylan is an ageless troubadour who continues to make music, and not just some baby boomer's memory. So Brooooooce came out and gave a little speech about hearing Bob for the first time and such, and sang "The Times, they are a-Changin." I thought he could have picked a less obvious choice, but hearing his rendition, heartfelt and soulful, made me realize he'd made the right choice. I think Bob was on the verge of tears, or at least one tear. Brooooooooce... Next out was Ron Gould (?) and his country band, with G.E. Smith on mandolin (he's always around for these things.) They gave a solid, honky-tonk "Don't Think Twice," and you could tell Bob was starting to have a good time. Even Pres. Clinton was singing along with this one. And last was a woman with an incredible voice whose name I can't think of off the top of my head. Sorry bout that. Anyway, she gave a stellar "Gotta Serve Somebody," as soulful as Bob's original, keeping everyone's toes tapping. "It may be the devil/Pleeeeease make it the Lord/Ooooh, gonna have to serve somebody." Mr. Dylan was the first to jump up to give her a standing ovation. With ten minutes left, Mr. Cronkite had all the directors, producers, performers, workers, and hangers on come out on stage. Then Pres. and Mrs. Clinton stood center stage and called out the honorees. Of course Bob was fidgety, and couldn't seem to hold still, but it was humorous to see his body swaying back and forth while the President was speaking. Then they all concluded the night by singing "America the Beautiful." So there you have it (if you made it this far), the 1997 Kennedy Center Honors. I don't think anyone will ever be able to explain why Bob seemed so restless that night. Perhaps he was just shy, perhaps tired, perhaps stoned (just kiddin on that one). A couple times I was hoping for Mrs. Zimmy to give Bob a good smack in the back of the head and tell him to "stop slouching." But she looked like she enjoyed her evening. And I think Bob enjoyed his. Congratulations Bob, and thank you. M. Brann P.S.: don't forget to vote for the 1997 Bobcat awards! (didn't think I'd leave that out, did ya?) ;)
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