Columbia Records recently released Tell Tale Signs, the eighth installment of their official "bootleg" series of Bob Dylan rarities. The album includes two discs of outtakes, soundtrack cuts, live recordings, and general leftovers from the past two decades of Dylan's recording career—and it's a recording that finds Dylan, at the age of 67, to be just as cagey, elusive, and utterly inscrutable as ever. Which seems to be part of a larger trend: In the past few years, Dylan has saturated the market like never before, opening up the book of his life in the form of documentaries and feature films, a TV special and an autobiography, telling us more about himself and his work than ever before. Not surprisingly, Dylan's transparency has led to more questions than answers; it seems the more he tells us, the less we actually know about him.
Not that many fans would complain; part of Dylan's appeal has always been his mystery, an allure that attracts people from all walks of life and all musical tastes. That mysterious allure took an interesting turn in the late 1970s, when Dylan notoriously announced that he'd been born again and proceeded to record a trilogy of overtly Christian albums, even refusing to play his earlier, "secular" songs at many of his concerts. It was a baffling, beguiling chapter in one of the most colorful and unusual careers in rock history, one that found Dylan opening up about his spiritual life while also adding to his mystique.
Such is the subject of Inside Bob Dylan's Jesus Years: Busy Being Born … Again!, a new documentary that goes to great lengths to recreate that seminal period of Dylan's career and find some answers in it.
Not surprisingly, the ...