RockPop Cover Story: “Bob Dylan – Infrared” by Elliott Landy

by Mike Goldstein,

Subject – “Bob Dylan – Infrared”, an Elliott Landy photo most-recently used on the cover of “The Collection, Volume 4 – Nashville Skyline/New Morning/John Wesley Harding (Reissue), released in 2005 on Sony records.

This three-disc entry in Sony’s “The Collection” series of classic album compilations delivers fans three of Mr. Dylan’s most experimental and exciting recordings ≠ 1967’s John Wesley Harding (which introduced “All Along The Watchtower” and introduced us to Dylan’s “country side”); 1969’s Nashville Skyline (which featured the timeless “Lay Lady Lay” and a host of Dylan-penned country classics ≠ including a duet with Johnny Cash called “Girl From The North Country” ≠ as well as another great Landy cover shot); and 1970’s New Morning, which included Dylan standards such as “If Not For You” and “One More Weekend”. Sony, it seems, did not want to include music from Dylan’s Self Portrait album, which was released earlier in 1970 and confused/frustrated the heck out of critics and fans alike (although it did include a striking album cover painted by Dylan himself).

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In Elliott’s own words (from his book “Woodstock Vision”) – “Everyone liked the Big Pink photographs I’d shot for The Band, and shortly afterward Al Aronowitz, a writer and friend of Dylan’s, asked me to photograph Bob for the cover of the Saturday Evening Post.”

“I rented a little VW bug and drove up from the city to Bob’s house in Woodstock. This was during the height of his fame, when he had been seen publicly only once in a couple of years, and many people thought he had died in a motorcycle accident.” Aronowitz introduced us. Bob told me how much he liked the Band photos, grabbed his guitar, sat on an old tire, and began playing while I took pictures. It occurred to me that millions of people would be thrilled to be ten feet away from Bob Dylan while he was playing, but he was so casual, it seemed normal to me.”

“He suggested some other things. ‘This is what I do up here, take a picture,’ he said while putting the garbage cans away. He sat on the step of his equipment van and then in front of an old British cab he had. After a while he asked to use the camera. For some of the pictures I used infrared color film, which made the leaves bright red.”

“Although he was comfortable with me, he was nervous in front of the camera, and his uneasiness made it difficult for me. I was never the kind of photographer to talk people into feeling good, I let them be the way they were and photographed it. Usually it worked out, because I flowed with whatever mood they were in, without resistance until things lightened up.”

“He asked me to come back with the pictures when they were ready, which I did the following week. He liked the photos, and we started to hang out a bit?He was very happy, in love with his lovely and gracious wife, Sara, and his family. He was hiding from the world, savoring the magical experience of having young children. That’s why I didn’t publish the pictures for many years. He cherished his privacy and didn’t want any media attention on his family.”

“I was very impressed with Bob. He was a very special person. He intuitively understood what was going on in a situation. There was a feeling you got when you were with him that was exciting. I believe it was the flow of creative energy surrounding him that sort of spilled over onto you. Over the years I’ve seen him walk into rooms, even in the presence of other very famous people, and suddenly everyone’s attention becomes totally focused on him. It’s difficult to have this type of charisma: people always want a piece of you.”

Shot at his Byrdcliff home in Woodstock, NY, 1968

Provided by the MusicDish Network. Copyright © MusicDish LLC 2007 – Republished with Permission