Dylan on Television

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don freeman

Feb 27, 2000, 3:00:00 AM2/27/00
Bob Dylan's latest appearance on network television, as a Grammy Award
presenter, brings up two interesting questions. One is whether Dylan
really wants to play the television game and behave properly on a
program like the Grammys. The other question is whether Dylan's artistic
temperment makes him the kind of person who couldn't pull of a proper
television appearance even if he wanted to.

Probably Dylan's most successful television appearance was the Les Crane
show, February 17, 1965, where between singing "It's All Over Now Baby
Blue" and " It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding,)" he throughly charmed
the audience with his humouroust patter and his comic timing. However,
my theory is that this show also contains the moment when Dylan shot
down his possible movie career

Les Crane seems pretty hip for a T.V. talk show host, mentioning guests
like Judy Colllins who sang "Hard Rain's A Gonna Fall," Allen Ginsbrg,
Odetta and Jesse Fuller. However, even the Les Crane show is full of
idiotic show business hypocrisy, and Dylan was sharing the t.v. stage
with Tommy Sands, Caterina Valente, and Cy Pulman. Still, in this
context, Dylan is able to rise above the bullshit.

When Crane asks him to name a few of the big songs for those out there
in the audience that might not know all of the songs he's written, Bob
answers, "Oh."

Crane: This is the composer of ...


Crane: No! That ain't one of the big ones! (audience laughter)

Dylan: No?

Crane: No.

Dylan: Let's see, One Too Many Mornings.

Crane: How about Blowin' In The Wind?

Dylan: Yeah? (applause)

Most of the interchanges go on like this, with Dylan undercutting
Crane's cliches:

Crane: And there are thousands of people jamming that place, paying top
dollar, and according you one of the greatest ovations that ... What
does it feel like when you're getting this kind of ovation at this kind
of an age when you have the kind of respect and adulation you have?
That's a tough question.

Dylan: Yeah.

Crane: But answer it.

Dylan: Well ... well, I'll tell ya Les (giggles, audience laughs) ... I
can't answer that.

Crane: Yes, you can.

Dylan: Oh. Well it feels just delicious, wonderful. It feels ...
marvelous, splendid, swinging, groovy, fantastic.

Buit even while Dylan is making fun of Crane's questions, and putting
him on, he manages to slip in some serious points amid the fun:

Crane: Most of your songs.... I don't want to hang you up with corny
questions, but it's true that most of your songs say something ....

Dylan: Uh-hum.

Crane: There is a message ...

Dylan: Yeah.

Crane: ... in almost everything you say. What is your main message?

Dylan: Eat?

Crane: No, I don't think that's it. And that's a cute answer but that's
not the message.

Dylan: Yeah. Aah. My main message is, ah, you know (giggles), you want
it in one word (giggles, audience laughs), one word!

Crane: No.

Dylan: Well, I'll tell ya Les.

Crane: Yeah, Bob.

Dylan: One word message. It's just, ah, 'Be', you know.

Crane: Be?

Dylan: Be. Be period. Is.

Crane: How about love?

Dylan: Love? That's an OK word, yeah, That's all right I guess, but it's
been used a LOT, it's been used a lot.

Crane: But that's part of your message, isn't it?

Dylan: Love? Well, yeah, but everybody says that.

Crane: That doesn't make it anything wrong with it.

Dylan: No, yeah, anybody can say it.

Crane: What about 'swing'?

Dylan: Swing? That's a good message.

Crane: Is that part of your message?

Dylan: Swing. Swing. Love. Be. Is. Was. Were. Double.

Crane: Double?

Dylan: Double up, once in a while.

Dylan is pulling off this appearance so well, that Crane says " I
think you represent to America and to American youth something very very
vital and the last guy that had this kind of impact on the youth of this
country was James Dean." It really seems, at this point, that Bob
Dylan's career would be totally unstoppable and he was headed for the
movies.. But then something strange happens. Tommy Sands joins the

Now people much younger than Dylan probably don't know about Tommy
Sands, but he had to be one of the flakiest people in show business.
However, in February 1964, Tommy was at the top of his fifteen minutes
of fame, having starred in a rock 'n roll television movie and married
Nancy Sinatra. Soon after, the marriage would break up and Frank Sinatra
would make sure that Tommy Sands never worked again. But on this show,
Tommy is acting like the godfather of show business.

Crane is trying to talk to Caterina Valente when Dylan drops something (
I only have the audio)

Crane: (to Dylan) What did you do when I looked over there?

Dylan: Nothing, Les. (audience laughter). I didn't do anything.

Crane: You are really cracking up this audience!

Dylan: Nah, nah, I'm not. not really

Crane: Yes you are

Tommy Sands: You know why he’s cracking up this audience

Crane : Why

Sands: I was sitting back there watching him. Of course, I say you know
why he’s cracking up this audience, I can’t speak for this audience. But
I think I recognize talent. And I think as big and as successful as Bob
Dylan is as a singer and writer of folk songs I think that he has a
tremendous future as an actor. [Audience Applause]

Sands: In fact you know, I don’t; know I was never familiar with Bob
Dylan.I’ve seen record albums and I’d heard songs and everything But I
was never familiar with the man, and I’ve never seen him
And after watching him, I’m sure that other producers right now, ….its
wild…. , because tonight somebody might see him and offer him the thing
he wants, not that he would take anything. He does remind me of Jimmy
Dean and he’s very funny

So here we have the great Tommy Sands granting Dylan a career in movie.
You really have to listen the audio to hear how pompous Tommy Sands
sounds, complete with all his dramatic pauses. And just as we are all
waiting for the producers to call Bob and make him the biggest thing
since James Dean, Dylan decides to take the conversation into the

Dylan: Hmm

Crane : How’d you like that , Bobby

Crane: Have you ever given any thought to acting. Think you might enjoy

Dylan: Well, I'm gonna try to make a movie this summer. Which Allen
Ginsberg is writing. I'm rewriting ...

Crane: Allen Ginsberg, the poet?

Dylan: Yeah, yeah.

Crane: He was on this program you know.

Dylan: Yeah.

Crane: Extolling the virtues of marijuana one night.

Dylan: Really? Allen?? (audience laughter). Sounds like a lie to me
(audience laughter).

Crane: That's really ... You think I'm lying?

Dylan: No, I didn't mean that.

Crane: Allen Ginsberg was sitting in that chair where Caterina Valente
is sitting right now and he said that he thought that we
ought to legalize pot.

Dylan: He said that?

Crane: Right on the television.

Dylan: Pheeeww!

Crane: Can you imagine that?

Dylan: Nah. Allen is a little funny sometimes (audience roars with

Crane: Allen's funny sometimes, huh? Yes ... what is this movie going to
be about?

Dylan: Oh it's a, sort of a horror cowboy movie (audience laughter).
Takes place on the New York Thruway.

Crane: A horror cowboy movie that takes place .. I don't think that's
exactly what Tommy Sands had in mind.

Dylan: No, well, its, that's the kind of movie it's gonna be though. You

Crane: It's gonna be one of those underground pictures, right?

Dylan: No. It's gonna be all straight. On the up and up.

Crane: Yeah? Are you gonna star in it?

Dylan: Yeah, yeah, I'm a hero.

Crane: You're the hero? You play the horrible cowboy?

Dylan: I play my mother (audience laughter).

Crane: You play your mother? In the movie?

Dylan: In the movie. You gotta see the movie (audience laughter).

Crane: He's quite the put on artist, isn't he?

Dylan: Nah, God.

Crane: You're terrible.

Dylan: Nah. Don't want to be categorized.

Well, the part about Allen Ginsberg and pot is very funny, very cute,
but when Dylan goes on to talk about playing his own mother in a cowboy
horror movie, he is definitely taking the conversation beyond the limits
of network television. You could almost hear the producers putting their
phones down and writing off Bob Dylan as a drug-crazed weirdo. This time
the audience laughter is a bit nervous.

So there is Dylan's finest moment on network television, but I think the
though of working with phonies like Tommy Sands was just too much for
him. Instead of becoming the next James Dean, Dylan went on to become
something else. I guess we are all better off.


Feb 27, 2000, 3:00:00 AM2/27/00
Don wrote:

<<Dylan: Well ... well, I'll tell ya Les (giggles, audience laughs) ... I
can't answer that.

Crane: Yes, you can.

Dylan: Oh. Well it feels just delicious, wonderful. It feels ...
marvelous, splendid, swinging, groovy, fantastic.>>

This is funny stuff but from so long ago.
Has Dylan held on to his humorous wit after
all the changes we think he's been through?
I know all the years have left me serious and
I remain,


Feb 27, 2000, 3:00:00 AM2/27/00
Okay, Im sold. Where can I get the audio recording of this interview? Is it
online in mps form somewhere, and if so where?

Great stuff, thanks for sharing.


Peter Stone Brown

Feb 27, 2000, 3:00:00 AM2/27/00

"don freeman" <dfr...@home.com> wrote in message

But then something strange happens. Tommy Sands joins the
> discussion.

Now one of the funniest things about that show concerning Sands was sometime
during the show (and Dylan was on for an hour) --and I can't remember
whether Sands was on-stage or not, was Crane asked Dylan, "What do your
friends call you?" and Dylan says, "My friends call me Robert." So Sands
comes on and keeps calling Bob "Rob" throughout the show.

This show was broadcast by the way a couple of weeks before the release of
the single, "Subterranean Homesick Blues." But the clues that Dylan were
moving into rock were clearly evident. For one thing there was Bob's attire
which was no longer the suede jacket and jeans I saw him wear at
Philharmonic Hall only a couple of months before. He was wearing a suit
with the white shirt and snap tab collar. He was also backed by guitarist
Bruce Langhorne playing a Martin with a pickup and his opening song was
"It's All Over Now Baby Blue" which absolutely showed signs of moving into

While audio tapes of the show do exist it is tragedy that a video does not
seem to because Don is right when he says it was Bob's best TV appearance.
Dylan was just a riot throughout the show and a lot of it was visual. If
there's a TV show that's been stuck in my mind for 35 years, that's the one.

"Where the angels' voices whisper to the souls of previous times." --Bob
Peter Stone Brown
e-mail: ps...@earthlink.net

Devin WS

Feb 28, 2000, 3:00:00 AM2/28/00
OK ... didn't see the Grammy's (boring garbage)! Didn't see any nose picking
boring garbage you people make me snore over. Remember this you idiot ... any
Dylan appearance we get blessed with is simply that. A blessing!

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