Sunday, July 8, 2018

UNDERGROUND 68: A Dylan-Inspired Harvard Project and Kickstarter Campaign

"Blowin' in the Wind" -- 24"x 36", acrylic on panel
This past week I read about a section of the web called Google Scholar. It's essentially a massive library of scholarly papers, theses, articles, abstracts, court opinions. an online repository of all scholarship across all disciplines. Naturally the first thing I did was do a quick search to see what they had about Mr. Bob Dylan.

The first document that came up was something akin to a fact sheet which begins something like a form that you fill out for a job application or vehicle registration at the DMV.  Birth name. Also known as. Born. Origin. Occupation. Instruments. Years active. Labels. Associated acts. Website.

I like the list of aliases under "Also known as." Elston Gunnn, Blind Boy Grunt, Bob Landy, Robert Milkwood Thomas, Tedham Porterhouse, Lucky/Boo Wilbury, Jack Frost, Sergei Petrov.  You can read more about Dylan's aliases at American Routes. (EdNote: If you go there, I believe he misspelled Gunnn, which should have three Ns. Read Bobby Vee's account here.) I find it amusing that the guy with all these aliases took the name Alias in the film Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid.

The amazing thing, which sets scholarly work apart from much of what we find online, is the quantity of footnotes. The dossier on Dylan is 34 pages. In superfine fine print on the last two pages they have 351 footnotes.

* * * *
All this has been a roundabout way to lead into UNDERGROUND 68, a Kickstarter project founded by Harvard folk. The storyline goes like this: the '60s counterculture envelops a Harvard student whose thesis about campus Vietnam War resistance leads her to Dylan and the streets of Rome. An interesting aspect of the project is that it was initiated by a contemporary Harvard student, but features Harvard students from the Sixties.

This spring during the 2018 Duluth Dylan Fest, we had the privilege of hosting a lecture by Richard F. Thomas, the Harvard classics prof who also teaches a class on Dylan, author of Why Bob Dylan Matters. Dr. Thomas is one of the principles behind the film which is summarized this way:

The late 1960s counterculture was a mass awakening. It was a renaissance of music, art, experimental films, underground comics, psychedelic drugs, Eastern philosophy and cosmic consciousness. It was the dawn of the movements for peace, civil rights, environmentalism, sexual diversity and women’s liberation. Ariel finds the distillation of all that in the songs of Bob Dylan.

Guided by a Harvard classics professor and renowned Dylan scholar she also finds deep connections between Dylan's later songs and works of classic Greek and Roman literature, especially Virgil.

UNDERGROUND 68 is infused with Dylan songs performed by a kick-ass rock band of professional grade musicians from the Harvard class of ‘68, songs that reflect back on Ariel’s intellectual and spiritual journey.

"Light yourself a candle" manhole cover,
Bob Dylan Way, Duluth.
The filming is complete, to they're on the last leg of production. Their target goal is $36K, but anything above that will be applied to getting the film into film festivals, college campuses, art houses, etc. Their primo ultimate aim would be to raise $100K to fund a traveling show that includes film screenings, Dr. Thomas' lecture on Why Bob Dylan Matters and the Harvard band doing an all-new Dylan setlist. (Is the name of that band The Harvard Classics, by the way?)

COOLEST FEATURE: Pledge $10K and you will be listed as Executive Producer of the film. I'm sure Steve Jobs would have bit on that. For all I know, Steve might have gone ahead and funded the whole thing.

Or you can cut-and-paste:

EdNote: Deadline to reach goal is August 1.

Related Links
Article by Brian Lloyd: The Form is the Message: Bob Dylan and the 1960's
* Steve Jobs Film Leads To Dylan Insights for CEOs in New Forbes Article
Trivia: According to the Dylan entry at 745 movies us Dylan music as a portion of the soundtrack. Will Underground 68 be number 746?

Meantime life goes on all around you. Get into it.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Well, who's in this band covering Dylan songs? Our band, Albatross, who played on the Yard during University Hall, had a reel-to-reel Basement Tape copy in early 1968, so we were doing those songs in 1968. Hope you're using some of those things. no? Bless your project, but there was a lot of music in Cambridge after the 1968 folks had graduated - Bead Game, Far Cry, Listening, etc.

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