I am quite sure you have had to watch family home movies before. I know I have. Although my family was not particularly big on taking home movies there was a time when I was quite young when my father was in possession of an 8mm film camera. Was anything caught on those cameras historical? Was there anything on film that would later be discussed by historians? No. Mostly what you get are relatives smiling awkwardly and waving awkwardly and record of some of the most horrific fashions you could possibly imagine.
The interesting thing is that many historical people also carried film cameras. Sure you can talk about presidents and dictators and their home movies, but what really interests a lot of us is music. In particular rock and roll. This is where the DVD “The 1966 World Tour (The Home Movies)” comes in. These are home movies for one of the most famous and historical moments in rock and roll history.
The World Tour in question, in case you were not aware, was the Bob Dylan world tour of 1966. You see by this time Bob was called a protest singer by a lot of the world’s press and had been traveling around the world playing with his acoustic guitar and that harmonica thing strapped around his neck. In 1966 Bob decided to make a change. He decided he wanted to play electronically and plug in his guitar and play with a band equally plugged in behind him.
The DVD released in 2006 features the home movies taken by Bob’s drummer Mickey Jones. While the tour footage is amazing and fascinating Mickey’s story is worthy of its own documentary just by itself. You have probably seen Mickey because he has become an actor in recent years. He was the bearded fellow in “Home Improvement” and was part of the band playing on the front porch in “Sling Blade.” He was also the big scary biker-looking guy with the really fresh breath on the subway in that Breathsavers commercial a few years back.
What Mickey did before he went into acting was play the drums. The DVD starts out by telling Mickey’s story. He started playing the drums in a suburb of Dallas and ended up in a band headed by Trini Lopez. He received gold and platinum records with Trini and toured the world. He eventually left Trini and started playing drums for Johnny Rivers and again toured the world. On each of these tours he took his camera with him. He shot amazing footage of the world and the places he played. For example, he has some great footage of this up and coming band that was just starting to make a splash back then playing on stage in Paris. That band was known as the Beatles.
When he was touring and playing in the Whisky A Go Go in Los Angeles he met Bob Dylan. Bob liked his playing. Bob said he wanted to record with Mickey as his drummer. Mickey told him to give him a call when he wanted to start. A year later the call finally came and the job had changed from playing on a record to touring the world.
The tour has become legendary, of course. There have been documentaries made about this tour already and albums released. Many feel it was the greatest rock and roll tour ever. Some feel it changed music and rock and roll for all time. You can see much of what happened in the documentary “Eat the Document.” Dylan was booed from the start. He would start each show by playing his acoustic set and then the band would come out.
Mickey shows this band as they travel. The amazing thing about this DVD is that these are home movies. No matter how big the stars they are just, in many ways, the same kind of movies you might take if you were on vacation with your family. You have shots of the view from the hotel balcony in Hawaii. You have shots out the window of the plane as it lands in Sydney. You see the band goofing around in the train as they travel through Ireland.
The one major difference between your home movies and those of Mickey Jones is that his happen to have Bob Dylan in them. Sure, here they are touring Hamlet’s castle in Denmark…with Bob Dylan. Yes, there is a shot of Big Ben and London …with Bob Dylan. There are shots of the band traveling from one venue to another…with Bob Dylan.
There have been many documentaries made about bands as they have toured. None of them match the intimacy of these 8mm films that were found in a box in Mickey Jones’ basement. Why are the intimate? Because he wasn’t making a documentary about a band touring. He was just a guy with a camera taking pictures of his friends. They became friends because everyone reviled them and so they were forced to draw closer together.
Holding all of this silent footage together, throughout this DVD, is Mickey Jones. He narrates. He talks about the historic night of May 17, 1966 when the band played at the Manchester Free Trade Hall and someone shouted “Judas!” Mickey tells you his theory of who he thinks said, loudly, and recorded, “play f**king loud.” The director and Mickey look over press clippings from the time where the reviews mention this band may have been louder than the Who concert that played the week before.
This is great history. This is a DVD any rock and roll fan should see. I have not ever been the greatest Bob Dylan fan. I never liked him. To me he sounds like he sings with his fist in his mouth. To me the lyrics always sounded like something out of that movie “Pootietang” when he sang. “Rhan a fine a tang a wan a boon a flan a ban a wan ah next TO YOU!”
Somehow Bob Dylan became cast as the voice of his generation. He may have never wanted it and he never wanted to be labeled a “protest singer” but both things happened. He made history and to those of you who love music history you should see this DVD.
The DVD is “1966 World Tour (The Home Movies)” and you can find it online. It is filmed in simple video with the films shown in ancient, grainy 8mm. Somehow it just seems right that history looks like grainy 8mm.