As an ardent adorer of Jeff Bridges’ work, someone who champions The Big Lebowski as their favourite movie, a firm believer that Bob Dylan might be the greatest artist ever, and a big supporter of the notion that New Morning is among his finest work: just image the blinking spam javelin on this writer when he happily discovered that quintet of joy had united once more. Only joking, of course, it was merely a wide smile, let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.
As it happens, I’m a little late to the party, but as the old saying goes, better late than never. The clip is actually from the mid-2000s and features Jeff Bridges performing at the Lebowski Fest in The Dudes native Los Angeles. For the uninitiated few, who for some reason have stumbled onto this article, Lebowski Fest is a celebration of the Coen Brothers movie The Big Lebowski from 1998 starring Bridges as the eponymous Dude, or El Duderito if you’re not into the whole brevity thing.
The fact that the movie has not only spawned a festival in its honour, but also a certified religion to boot, is a testimony of the fact it is the cult film. The life-affirming brilliance that so many of us have celebrated, has never really received the same spotlight from other outlets or the arbiters of reverence that the big awards ceremonies supposedly represent.
This lack of widespread recognition or acclaim beyond cult adoration is an interesting matter in of itself. The last fifty years’ worth of Best Picture winners at the Academy Awards can be broken down into the following (admittedly broad) categories: 29 dramas, 17 films based on real events, two sci-fi or fantasy, one musical and one comedy. The victorious comedy in question was Annie Hall in 1978, and the only drama with quasi comedic ties is American Beauty in 2000. It would seem that for some reverence and humour are two separate worlds, and we explored why, which you can read about by clicking here.
However, at present, we have this golden clip at hand. As anyone who has watched Crazy Heart can attest, Bridges is certainly handy with a six-string under his arm. Thus, what better way to share that talent than taking to the stage to recite the Bob Dylan classic ‘The Man in Me’ which brilliantly graces the opening sequence of the Lebowski’s epic ringer for a ringer goose-chase.
After a decade of musical dominance in the 1960s, Dylan found himself retreating from the ‘voice of a generation’ tag that came with it. For the spellbinding album, New Morning, he intentionally stripped his songs of anything that could be interpreted as some sort of satirical metaphor, and surprisingly such constraints resulted in somewhat of a masterpiece.
‘The Man in Me’ stands out in the party of Dylan’s back catalogue as a laidback presence sipping on a White Russian. It is a dreamy piece of music, ideal for bathtub escapism (just make sure there aren’t any marmots about).
While Bridges rendition might be a little bit scratchy and lo-fi, when it comes to high-end technicalities, it simply sports and an exuberant attitude of ‘I can’t be worried about that shit man’. Topped off with dancing twists with fans on stage, there’s clearly a lot of love in the air, which is precisely why Bridges remains the humanised hero of Hollywood for many of us. And while all you Lebowski lovers are here, I also can’t recommend the lesser-known masterpiece of The Fisher King enough.