Bob Dylan has always attracted three kinds of people: dope-smokers, angsty adolescents, and creatives. His music is so evocative of the heady days of the 1960s when drug culture exploded, and the world seemed to have been flipped on its head that, for many, Dylan’s music seems the perfect soundtrack to that period of transition, rebellion, and becoming that we all undergo. This was certainly the case for David Lynch, who, in his early 20s, went to a Dylan concert stoned out of his mind. In a recent interview, Lynch shared the details of that night and, whilst it is a hilarious story, it is also one that casts a light on the formative days of the director’s youth before he started pursuing a film career in earnest.
David Lynch’s filmography so one o the most profoundly surreal in all of Hollywood. With films like Mullholland Drive, Eraserhead and Blue Velvet, he utilises a dreamlike logic to construct narratives that are as mesmerising as they are unnerving, continually blending elements of the supernatural and the unreal with the more mundane aspects of modern America. Lynch started making short films in the 1960s when Dylan was at the height of his fame, and, in 2012, even recorded a cover of Dylan track ‘The Ballad of Hollis Brown’, much to the bemusement and fascination of the public.
Dylan’s music can sometimes feel distinctly green in flavour. Perhaps it’s the connotations of ’60s counterculture, the fact he was rumoured to be the person who turned The Beatles on to dope, or the great big puffy cloud of jangly guitar and drawling vocals which seems to define his early records. Either way, he has been something of a go-to for befuddled stoners for time immemorial. For Lynch, a Dylan concert felt like the perfect place to mellow out. But, in this story, he describes how the reality of the occasion turned out to be quite different.
“The next time I smoked dope,” Lynch begins, “Bob Dylan was playing, you know, at this big place right down the street. And so, lo and behold, out of thousands of people in this, you know, auditorium kind of thing – which was real steep, I was way in the back. Out of all those seats, when I sat down, there was this girl sitting next to me that I’d just broken up with. Then, Bob Dylan came on the stage and I couldn’t believe how little he was. And I measured him with my fingers on my knee and I said to her: ‘his jeans are only this big!’ And then I measured his guitar and said, ‘his guitar is only this big!’ And I wasn’t even digging the music – I was so far away. So I wanted to get out of there really bad.”
As Lynch explains, however, his decision to bail on the concert had unexpected consequences. “Then, when the concert was over, Peter came back with a bunch of his friends and he said: ‘nobody walks out on Dylan!’ I said, ‘I walk out on Dylan, get the fuck outta here.’ So that was the end of Peter as my roommate. I just didn’t want to be anywhere in this world that was, you know, now my world,” Lynch concludes.