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Wednesday
26 November 2014
 

Video - Subterranean Homesick Blues

Published: 2009-10-11

Map

The Savoy Steps alley behind the Savoy hotel in London 2007

The Savoy Hotel seen from the front in 2007

The windows in the backdrop in the video and how they looked in 2007

The Savoy Hotel seen from the front in 2007

The Savoy Steps alley behind the Savoy hotel in London 2007



Bob Dylan - Savoy Steps

The Savoy Steps is an alley which is located behind the Savoy Hotel in London.

Construction work was taking place in the alley the recording for Subterranean Homesick Blues was made, scaffolding covered the left-hand wall, making it hard to identify this location in the present day. In the far background windows are visible, about level with Bob's head in the video, just above these windows are a trail of what seems to be white paint. The windows and the paint remains today, making it easy to identify Savoy Steps as the location for the video.

The video became one of the first "modern" promotional film clips - the forerunner of what later became known as the music video. Although Rolling Stone lists it as the 7th on its list of "100 Top Music Videos", the original clip was actually the opening segment of D. A. Pennebaker's film, Dont Look Back, a documentary on Bob Dylan's first tour of England in 1965. In the film, Dylan, who came up with the idea, holds up cue cards for the audience, with selected words and phrases from the lyrics. The cue cards were written by Dylan himself, Donovan, Allen Ginsberg and Bob Neuwirth. While staring at the camera, he flips the cards as the song plays. There are intentional misspellings and puns throughout the clip, for instance when the song's lyrics say "eleven dollar bills" the poster says "20 dollars".

Poet Ginsberg and Neuwirth make a cameo in the background. For use as a trailer, the following text was superimposed at the end of the clip while Dylan and Ginsberg are exiting the frame: "Surfacing Here Soon | Bob Dylan in Dont Look Now by D. A. Pennebaker". In addition to the Savoy Steps clip, two alternate promotional films were shot: one in a park where Dylan, Neuwirth and Ginsberg are joined by a fourth man, and another shot on the roof of an unknown building (possibly the Savoy Hotel). A montage of the clips can be seen in the documentary No Direction Home.


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