24 May 2005
Sunday, 08 May 2005
In the movie Don't Look Back, there's a scene where Bob Neuwirth says something along the lines of "She's wearing a see-through blouse and you don't want to!" The comment is more or less referring to Joan Baez who's not, it should probably go without saying, wearing a see-through blouse. Neuwirth is pretty insistent about making this remark, though, stopping halfway through and starting again, louder, to make sure he's heard. Why?
This throw-away line sounds like nonsense, but it's a reference to a Lenny Bruce routine, "Lima, Ohio," which first appeared on his 1961 album Lenny BruceAmerican. It's about being trapped in small-town America "Peyton Place is a dirty lie!" where Bruce has dinner with a local, middle-aged, married couple. Bruce talks about trying to cope with their suburban small talk "San Francisco... they got a lot of restaurants up there... but a town's a town" while woozy and depressed from travel and tranquilizers. He says the wife wore the kind of dress "you can see through and you don't want to."
I read something about Don't Look Back in, I think, The Nation a few weeks ago. Whatever the article was, its author referred to a scene where Dylan sings "[Hank] Williams's 'Lost Highway.'" This is a pretty common mistake. "Lost Highway" sounds like it should be a Hank Williams song, and Hank Williams's famous recording of it is great, but the song was written and first recorded by Leon Payne. (The Hank Williams version has slightly less alcoholic lyrics.) Right after he's done with his rather scrambled rendition of "Lost Highway," Dylan begins singing "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry," which Hank Williams did write.