Monday, December 20, 2010

Minstrel Boys: Dylan & The Band at Isle of Wight

While joyously reading the detailed analysis of Bob Dylan and The Band's Basement Tapes, from the pen of Sid Griffin (Million Dollar Bash, Jawbone press), I found this histrorically important video of Dylan/Band, from their Isle of Wight appearence, on Sunday, August 31, 1969.

According to Google video's note, this amazing footage is all that we have of Dylan’s performance that day, and features the following tracks: The Weight (only The Band), I Threw It All Away, Highway 61 Revisited, One Too Many Mornings, I Pity The Poor Immigrant, Minstrel Boy (only the beginning of the song. Complete take on Self Portrait, 1970). Rumor has it that this black and white footage was shot by a friend of John Lennon’s who sat between him and Yoko at the foot of the stage. Later, Lennon damned with faint praise when asked by the press to defend Dylan’s brief performance (an hour was brief granted that the audience, though not of course John Lennon, had been sitting in the mud for three days to await it). Lennon allegedly told the Daily Express: "He gave a reasonable, albeit slightly flat, performance, but everyone was expecting Godot, a Jesus, to appear."

The video rounds off with remarkable footage of The Band live at the Syria Mosque in Pittsburgh in November 1970, shot in color, bur very amateurishly, for Dutch television. Songs including: Time To Kill, The Weight, This Wheel’s On Fire and Up On Cripple Creek.

By the way, recently, Neil Young under the direction of Garth Hudson made an excellent recording of This Wheel’s On Fire which can be found in the album Canadian Celebration of the Band. This Neil Young interpretation significantly came out just a week after a fire destroyed his garage and he lost many of his beloved things and archival materials.

[December 21 UPDATE]

I noticed that Neil Young's new album, Le Noise is among Rolling Stone's 30 best records of the 2010. Though I didn't really like it, it's a good news. Le Noise is composed of eight new songs and no band. Neil is, accompanying himself on guitars with maximum fuzz and electronics, manipulated by producer Daniel Lanois. Rolling Stone writer, David Fricke, gives this four stars (out of five) and writes:

"The most personal thing about Le Noise is the sense of a restless master caught in the pursuit of ideas, shaping their expression. In Love and War, Young — his creaky whisper and acoustic guitar buoyed by Lanois' watery treatments — confesses an uncertainty hard to believe in one of rock's most driven stars: "When I sing about love and war/I don't really know what I'm saying." But then the conviction comes back. He only has that one way forward, through the music: "I sang in anger, hit another bad chord/But I still try to sing about love and war." Le Noise is, ultimately, an extreme simplicity: the sound of a man who won't give up."

[Second UPDATE, same day]
A funny video. Neil Young reveals that the fashion world never really understood him.


  1. Hi - do you have the photo credit for that shot of Danko/Dylan/Robertson at the Isle of Wight? I've been trying to track it down and can't find out who took it.

  2. No, unfortunately I don't. Just know the date which is 8/31/69. Could be a courtesy of any paper or journal of that period (like Melody Maker for instance), cause you know how festivals are covered by many reporters.

  3. Thank you for your quick response!