Having been going to Jewish summer camp since I was nine, I have always been taught that Bob Dylan is the be all and end all of Jewish musicians (sorry Amy Winehouse, you were a close second!).
My counselors always seemed to skip Dylan’s late 70’s music though. Why? Well, a new documentary on Dylan should explain a couple of things.
Joel Gilbert’s new documentary, Bob Dylan’s Jesus Years: Busy Being Born…Again!, discusses the musicians somewhat strange years as a born-again Christian, though he has since returned to Judaism.
Stephen Hazan Arnoff of The Forward wrote a review of the film in which he is somewhat critical of Gilbert’s portrayal of Jews for Jesus in the film, but still captures the bizarreness of Dylan nonetheless. He writes:
The music from this period is as inconsistent as any Dylan has created â€” from rote melodies with clichÃ©d images of devils, blood, baptism and unbelievers in tunes like â€œProperty of Jesus,â€? alongside gorgeous tunes like â€œI Believe in Youâ€? and â€œEvery Grain of Sand.â€?
If you check out the trailer for the film on its official website, you can also see how people at the time were also shocked and a tad freaked out by Dylan’s behavior. There are clips of people walking out of a show of his proclaiming that “they could have gone to church instead.”
I haven’t seen the film and Arnoff may be correct about the faults of the film, but the subject and footage just sound too fascinating to not be a cool film.