I finally saw Part 2 of Martin Scorsese’s No Direction Home: Bob Dylan.  I consider myself a Dylan aficionado, but there are still a number of things I don’t know about him.

One thing that Scorsese brought out in the film was the pressure put on Dylan to conform to a folk-singing, protest-song-writing image that people had of him.  When Dylan started trying different styles of music and songs that weren’t considered “topical,” he was criticized and hounded by his “fans.”  It seems, watching the film, that they weren’t so much fans of Dylan as of what they thought he should be.

Dylan is still a polarizing figure today, in a sense.  He is the type of musician that people generally like or dislike.  And even some of those who like him, only like him because of his lyrics and his influence on others.  Honestly, if I hear one more person say, “Dylan can’t sing”…..  Dylan has some of the most amazingly lyrical songs I’ve ever heard, and no one can replicate his timing and seemingly effortless rhythms.

“But he’s so nasal, and his voice is rough and scratchy!”  I think I’ve heard all the arguments.  However, what some people seem unable to comprehend is that Dylan often sang that way on purpose.  Why?  Why not?  I think that’s a better way to react to people trying to stick you in a mold of their making than drugging yourself to your eyeballs and dying of an overdose.

But I may be biased–I’ve liked Dylan since I was quite young.

I would, however, recommend No Direction Home for fans of Dylan and for anyone who wants to learn more about a musician who has influenced countless others.  It’s an engaging and informative look at Dylan’s younger years.  I’m glad Scorsese made the film, and I’m even more glad that Dylan was enough of an individual to fight out of the mold imposed on him.  His “fans” at the time had no idea how great he would become, so I’m glad Dylan didn’t let himself be ruled by them.

Through the mad mystic hammering of the wild ripping hail
The sky cracked its poems in naked wonder
That the clinging of the church bells blew far into the breeze
Leaving only bells of lightning and its thunder
Striking for the gentle, striking for the kind
Striking for the guardians and protectors of the mind
An’ the unpawned painter behind beyond his rightful time
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing