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Scorsese Shows Clancy, Dylan Love

By Sean O' Driscoll

Bob Dylan and Irish folk singer Liam Clancy shares their love for each other’s music in a groundbreaking new 3 1/2 hour documentary by Martin Scorsese entitled No Direction Home, following Dylan’s early 1960s career.

The documentary, part of PBS’s American Masters series, shows Clancy returning to the White Horse Pub in Greenwich Village, where Dylan picked up much of his folk music from the Clancy Brothers in his early years.

Dylan recalls that Clancy would make him drink about 30 pints of Guinness. Clancy gave him a piece of advice he carried all his life.

“Bob,” Clancy told him, as Dylan worried about his growing fame. “No malice, no fear, no envy.”

Liam Clancy on stage

Clancy is interviewed for the part one of the film that explores Dylan’s childhood and his early career in New York’s coffee shops and clubs.

Clancy tells Scorsese that he thought Dylan was like the “shape-changers” of Celtic mythology, through which the divine can release a “a man possessed.”

“In old Irish mythology, they talk about shape changers. Dylan changed voices. He changed images. It wasn’t really necessary for him to be a definitive person. He was a receiver. He was possessed and he articulated what the rest of us wanted to say but couldn’t say,” says Clancy.

Dylan would later record many songs he learned from the Clancy Brothers, even after rebelling against folk and turning to the electric guitar.

The documentary takes the viewer up to 1966 and Dylan’s defining British tour, as well as the motorcycle accident that followed it, which led Dylan into seclusion for the next eight years.

Towards the end, Dylan fights a losing battle against his own image as a “protest singer,” and wanted to be loved for his music, not part of a movement defined by others.

During the British tour, he is besieged by reporters who want him to be the “king of the protest singers.”

In one clip, a photographer wants him to pose thoughtfully with his sunglasses dangling from his mouth.

“Bob,” he shouts, “could you just suck your glasses for one second?”

“Suck my whaaat?” says Dylan angrily. “You suck ‘em.”

In another scene, Dylan is asked at a press conference, “How many protest singers are there today?”

“You mean right now?” Dylan asks. “About 136,” adding, after a pause, “or maybe 142…”

 
 


 
 
 
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