Getting To Dylan: Essential BBC Documentary from 1986

getting to dylan 1986

Getting To dylan, the essential filmed portrait of the post-conversion Dylan, remains an important adjunct to “Don’t Look Back”, “Eat The Document”, and “Renaldo and Clara”, the three other films to confront the myth as it surrounds and, in “Getting To dylan”, envelops the man.
~Clinton Heylin (Behind The shades)

I tend to agree with Clinton Heylin’s assessment [about “Getting To Dylan”]
~Paul Williams (BD Performing Artist 1986-1990 & beyond)

Filmed during the making of his movie Hearts On Fire (1987).

This BBC documentary captures Bob Dylan in a nice mood answering questions on songwriting, fans, etc… while sketching pictures of interviewer Christopher Sykes.

getting to dylan 1986

“I just write ‘em because nobody says you can’t write ‘em”
~Bob Dylan

Far more beguiling were the interviews he gave to Christopher Sykes of BBC-TV while on the set of Hearts of Fire and shown in edited form in the ‘Omnibus’ arts series in September 1987. These showed a different Dylan, direct and playful, and well able to hold his own against the boredom Philip Norman had predicted
~Michael Gray (BD Ecyclopedia)

Part 1 of 4:

Listen, I’ve come through good times and bad times. You know? So I’m not fooled by good times, bad times. Right now. Yeah, you’re makin’ a movie, you know? You’re playin’ some big tours… but I’ve seen the bottom too, you know? So er, you know… if you can work, you know, that’s the most… all you can ask. In this day and age, you can’t take that for granted. Just, to work is, is… er… to be able to work is, is what a person should strive after, you know?

Part 2 of 4:

Well, there are people who follow me around, you know, and they have passports and they have driver’s licenses and they all have Dylan as their name. Er, you know, there isn’t… What can I do about that? I mean, I can’t do nothing about that. They change their name on their birth certificate, and all that, you know? What are you asking me about? I don’t know.

Part 3 of 4:

Say, you’re passing a little pub or a little inn, and you look through the window and you see all the people eating, talking and carrying on. You watch outside the window, and you can see them all be very real with each other, as real as they’re gonna be. Because when you walk into the room, it’s over! You won’t see them being real anymore.

Part 4 of 4:


10 thoughts on “Getting To Dylan: Essential BBC Documentary from 1986”

  1. Love this interview. Very informative. How did I not know Bob is a lefty? … He says, “Sometimes it’s easier to be polite than to be rude. Or vice-versa.” Very human interactions from a typically aloof guy. Nice to see. … As I listened to him chat, it occurred that there is never a time when someone, somewhere, is not listening to Bob Dylan’s voice and/or reading about him. And Bob handles that burden — it that’s what it is — mostly with grace and humility.

  2. Bob plays Sykes fr BBC so called Documentary like a violin . Bob tells them if they think you’re going to get some great revelations or anything about my personal private life FORGET IT !
    As he busily sketches Sykes at the same time . As far as his quoted ” because no one says I can’t write the songs”, as an attempt to make Bob look arrogant . Rather this is Bob’s answer to a continually asked question of why do you write the songs you do? I mean ask that of a singer/songwriter Bob told them ; you call them stories , a song is just a very small piece of time that is based on some small thought that may come to you in a crowd of people . It means to each person whatever they interpret it to mean. After an exhaustion of interviewers attempt to get an answer that can be twisted into something shocking , Sykes settles for Bob’s answer ” I write them cause nobody says I can’t “. This is BBC’s big news flash for the , Getting to Dylan: Essential BBC Documentary !

      1. A tricky interview with an on form dylan,you did a fine job on ‘getting ‘ him!
        It’s probably the last interview he will ever do , you must be proud.

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