“Trouble No More” Documents – and More – Dylan’s Gospel Tour

Still from Trouble No More: Dylan and his harmonica, via Sony Music Entertainment

By Anne Margaret Daniel

“Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.”  — Proverbs 31:7

“Some day baby / You ain’t gonna trouble poor me any more.” — Sleepy John Estes, Someday Baby Blues (1935), sung as Trouble No More by Muddy Waters, the Allman Brothers, and many more

Trouble No More: A Musical Film had its world premiere Monday night at the Walter Reade Theater in Lincoln Center as part of the 55th New York Film Festival.  Released this autumn in conjunction with the next installment of Bob Dylan’s The Bootleg Series (Vol. 13 / 1979-1981), from the time of his “Gospel Tour,” Trouble No More is neither documentary nor biopic. It’s not purely a concert film, though the newly rediscovered footage from Dylan’s concerts in Toronto and Buffalo, with the camera seemingly inches from his face, is tremendous. It’s not a contemporary commentary on the Gospel Tour, though, as you quickly realize, this element has been newly made, now a part of the art.

We start as any concert tour should start, in the rehearsal studio, warming up with an old gospel standard, “Jesus Met the Woman at the Well.”  Dylan is frowning in concentration, with huge fuzzy unmodulated hair and a wild gold sequined guitar strap.  Sequins will be much in evidence, as will big shoulder pads, when we come to the concert footage of the five female backup singers. It is, after all, the last gasp of the 1970s. Dylan, and the company ranged around him, end the song with huge smiles.

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