The (snuff) video for “Duquesne Whistle” by Bob Dylan

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The video for Bob Dylan’s new song “Duquesne Whistle” has been released today and is embedded below. A little commentary is below that.

The video was directed by Nash Edgerton, and as you can see features a guy trying to woo a girl, having some misadventures and ending up beaten to a pulp. Dylan himself is in it but separate from the main action.

The video doesn’t appear to have been inspired by the song at all (although it’s never impossible for people to come up with massive interpretations). The thinking behind a video like this must be that the song and record stand up by themselves, so why not just create something completely independent? Then you splice them together and maybe you’ll have an interesting interplay. You can see Dylan being into this approach; he loves taking advantage of the accidental. However, I have to say I just don’t dig the fruits of it in this case. The song and the video seem to be fighting one another, and so the combined result is (for me) laborious to watch. I guess I’m old fashioned. I figure if you want to promote a record with a video then the video ought to complement the song rather than essentially relegate it to background music. But to each his own.

I did enjoy the sort-of-punchline at the end, where Dylan and his motley posse step over the battered victim on the street. Dylan puts on a face of studied obliviousness, looking right and left as if he’s engrossed in other things and therefore couldn’t possibly have seen the guy. I guess that those of us who live in big, mean cities are familiar with the look and, sadly, well-practiced at employing it.