Who was “baby blue?” Was it Joan Baez, Dylan’s folk loving audience, Bob Dylan himself? No one knows, maybe not even Bob. “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue,” is one of the greatest pieces of symbolist poetry ever, one of the greatest folk songs ever, and one of Bob’s best. Released in 1965 0n the incredible album, Bringing it All Back Home, the song was some kind of farewell ode to love, society, success, or failure. Maybe it was a portent of a coming apocalypse, or a grim nihilistic expression of desolation. Whatever it was about, it was beautiful, and British folkie Donovan knew it. The video clip below is from the 1967 documentary, “Don’t Look Back,” which focused on Dylan’s 64-65 tour of England. In the clip, we see Donovan play a lovely little tune, which is really great, but then request Bob play one of his favorites, “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue.” I was always struck by what the lead singer of Franz Ferdinand Alex Kapranos had to say on the encounter.
“That guy was so self-assured. It’s breathtaking to watch him at the pinnacle of his cruel glory in this film. The most intense scene is when Donovan meets his mentor. The lovely wee guy plays an optimistic Dylanesque tune on his guitar. Dylan then plays “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” and sniggers at Donovan’s amateurism through the acid of his delivery. Watch the muscles flinch in Donovan’s jaw.”
I’m not sure if Dylan was sniggering at Donovan’s song, and if Donovan’s jaw was flinching, it was out of awe and respect, not jealousy. Still, Alex, captures the essence of the effect Dylan’s music must have been having on his rabid and possessive folk audience that Bob was now ditching. “Don’t Look Back,” captures the Dylan fan rebellion as they openly boo Bob when he plugs in electric guitars and starts to rock. It’s one of the more stunning moments in rock and roll history, and an example of how different culture was back then; one that held hard onto icons, status qu0, and familiarity. The clip, the song, and the moment is one of the greatest in rock history so buckle up your brain before you press play.