Bob Dylan Shares a Drug-Hazed Taxi Ride with John Lennon (1966)

D.A. Pen­nebak­er’s ciné­ma vérité doc­u­men­tary Dont Look Back [sic] fol­lowed Bob Dylan on his cel­e­brat­ed 1965 tour through Eng­land, let­ting view­ers see what hap­pened along the way — the good, the bad and every­thing between. Today, it’s con­sid­ered both a clas­sic doc­u­men­tary and a pop-cul­tur­al arti­fact, some­thing Dylan fans can’t afford to miss.

The same can’t be said for Eat the Doc­u­mentPen­nebak­er’s fol­low-up doc­u­men­tary that cap­tured Dylan’s return to the UK in 1966. The premise had promise. Bob Dylan had just gone elec­tric and boos fol­lowed him wher­ev­er he went. In Man­ches­ter, they famous­ly called him “Judas.” That could have made for an intrigu­ing film. But, accord­ing to Dylan’s most recent biog­ra­ph­er Daniel Mark Epstein, the singer-song­writer was per­son­al­ly unrav­el­ing. He had toured to the point of exhaus­tion, and tak­en far too many amphet­a­mines. Dur­ing one moment filmed by Pen­nebak­er, Dylan shared an inco­her­ent taxi ride with John Lennon. Their ram­bling con­ver­sa­tion touched on John­ny Cash, The Mamas & the Papas, Dylan’s home­sick­ness, and how the Thames Riv­er sup­pos­ed­ly saved Britain from Hitler. And, once we get 20 min­utes into the footage, we find Dylan slumped for­ward in the back­seat, seem­ing­ly staving off nau­sea.

Dylan per­son­al­ly edit­ed the film and gave ABC tele­vi­sion the option to air it. The net­work declined, say­ing it would­n’t be com­pre­hen­si­ble to a main­stream audi­ence. Because the film was nev­er released, it has been passed around in var­i­ous boot­legged ver­sions. You can watch a 52-minute ver­sion on Dylan­Tube.

As a quick foot­note, it’s worth men­tion­ing that, accord­ing to Epstein’s biog­ra­phy, Lennon lat­er told Rolling Stone mag­a­zine that he and Dylan were doing “junk” (aka hero­in) that day, and that Lennon thought Dylan was close to OD’ing. It’s all dis­cussed in The Bal­lad of Bob Dylan: A Por­trait.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The 1969 Bob Dylan-John­ny Cash Ses­sions: Twelve Rare Record­ings

Bob Dylan and The Grate­ful Dead Rehearse Togeth­er in Sum­mer 1987. Lis­ten to 74 Tracks.

John Lennon’s Vic­to­ri­an Cir­cus Poster Lov­ing­ly Remade by Artists and Engravers

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