Bob Dylan, 2017
acrylic on canvas
30 x 24 in
Joan refers to this painting as “Old Happy Face.” She and Dylan have a complicated, much publicized, formerly romantic relationship that goes all the way back to the early 1960s, when she used her stardom to help launch his career. She refuses to take credit for it, though, saying if she hadn’t done it someone else would.
They performed together on Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue tour in 1975 and ’76. The revue also featured Jack Elliott, Roger McGuinn and playwright Sam Shepard. Bobby Neuwirth put together a band that included T Bone Burnett and Mick Ronson.
Joan has some fond and funny memories of that wild ride, the first time she and Dylan had appeared together since their breakup in 1965. Dylan introduced her as “a special friend of mine, a friend of mine through the years. And she is great!”
Then they’d duet on “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine.”
Once, between songs, “Dylan said, ‘Joan has a way of changing things. You never know what she’s gonna do.” Sure enough, as Joan tells the story: “One evening I decided to black out a couple of teeth for our duet. I kept my mouth shut as I walked across the stage to our shared microphone. When I was two feet away I flashed Bob a big smile.
He literally jumped backwards, as I remember, and from the accounts from my friends in the audience. Later on, old happy face had an uncharacteristic fit of laughter.”