Pass it Around

"If I made records for my own pleasure, I would only record Charley Patton songs." - Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan's Lowest Low Point. Alias Anything You Please Billy the Kid

I hereby declare a new Bob Dylan low point. Everyone says it is the Self-Portrait LP…or those wine-filled days of Under the Red Sky. Nope.  Bob Dylan's lowest point, and worst album of all time is Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid.

The first problem with Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid was that the Kid,  one William H. Bonney was according to his wanted poster shown above, 5 foot 3 inches tall. (He was actually, I believe, 5 foot 8…but still) A mere Irish sprite!

Kris Kristofferson?   Reportedly 5 foot 11 inches. That is a big problem, and when Kris put on his boots for drunken director Sam Peckinpah, he went even taller. He was also 36 years old when he played Billy. That's no kid, that's a grown man, and the real Billy croaked at age 21.

Show business.

The rest of the problem is that the complete Bob Dylan dialog in the film consisted of him reading the labels of bean cans and calling himself "Alias".  Perhaps Dylan's dialog is why the "review" on Amazon reads "Bob Dylan…whose enigmatic role is nearly wordless…" and for which he received a reported salary of $200,000.  The figure comes from Rex Reed…so take it with an "Expecting Grain" of salt.  I'm not really sure…but if so that's pretty good beans.

The famed director Sam Pekinpah was suffering from alcoholism at the time, which MAY explain why he urinated on the screen while watching footage at one point. (Wiki says "citation needed" about the pissing director,  but I believe it.)   He also hired no less than SIX editors to fix the thing, but none of them could.  Sam then took out a full-page ad in the trades to claim his movie wasn't horrible.

I also do not know if the $200,000 figure included the soundtrack. 

That would be the soundtrack which gave us the tireless, nay tiresome "Knockin' on Heaven's Door"  a sing-a-long which ruined the end of benefit concerts for decades. Mama, take this record off THE TURNTABLE. It is called an enduring anthem. I call it a persistently annoying anthem which should go away, and seemingly has. Thankfully, one seldom hears the Guns and Roses version anymore either.

Is there ANYTHING good about the flick? Yes. Slim Pickens. I love Slim Pickens, and so does everyone else. Later, Slim utters the single greatest line in any filmed western movie! When he and a posse come upon a toll booth in the middle of the desert in Mel Brooks "Blazing Saddles" Slim abruptly pulls up his horse and exclaims "Someone has to go back and get a shitload of dimes" which is the kind of sparkling dialog Pat Garret and Billy the Kid lacks. In fact, it lacks virtually everything, but it does have Slim Pickens and it is lucky to have him.

Now there was more than the "knock knock knock" song. Dylan did the whole soundtrack and released it as his 12th album. Dylan historian Micheal Gray says it has "characteristic roughness and lack of polish…" but I say it has less polish than Billy the Kid's real boots shown here in the magnificent original tintype which is the only known photo of the real kid.
The Lp was a real turkey…and side two even started with an instrumental titled "Turkey Chase" along with three versions of a song called "Billy" to fill out the less than 35 minute long album.

Bob also LEFT OFF the ONLY good song, a piece titled "Rock Me Mama" which is great. Try to find it.  I'll help you actually….it's HERE temporarily…Dylan's scrubbers will find it, so listen quick. Old Crow reworked it into a song titled Wagon Wheel, and their version is good too. 

The album is also probably the worst record Booker T. Jones and Jim Keltner ever played on.

 Watch Bob act HERE

 Official Trailer HERE

The BEST clip is here, with Dylan "reacting" and a nice long soundtrack background of Billy number one. It also includes Kris Kristofferson improvising a song about Marijuana which is better than the whole album.