Bob Dylan: Never Ending Tour Diaries outlines the five year journey of tour drummer Winston Watson. The documentary is limited to Watson’s perspective with great super 8 tour footage spliced into his interviews. Watson toured with Bob Dylan for over 400 shows and helped Dylan launch his “Never Ending Tour” which continues to this day. Winston Watson’s charisma and originality make him very likeable, which is crucial when chronicling an unheard perspective. This is not a typical rock documentary; there is very little music and no music videos at all. However, what this film lacks in typical form, it makes up with entertaining stories and great footage.
Throughout the entire documentary, viewers can tell how much Watson enjoyed and appreciated the opportunity to tour with Bob Dylan. Half-way through the documentary, Watson states that his favorite portions of Dylan shows were when he would be able to sit on the side of the stage and watch Bob Dylan perform without a band. The genuine passion for his work is conveyed to viewers with all of the tour footage and diaries that Watson narrates throughout. The green screen and montage scenes can be distracting at times. However, it does not affect the overall experience for the viewer because of the strength of the material and footage. Bob Dylan is a musical genius and frequently has guests appear at his shows. The most entertaining portions of the documentary are Watson’s perspective of these guests and his reactions to meeting these people (i.e. Eddie Vedder, Neil Young, Tom Petty etc…). Even after traveling around the world with Dylan, Watson was always humble and excited to meet new musicians. The entire documentary feels natural and unforced. Winston Watson remained a fan of Bob Dylan throughout all of their endeavors and these sentiments are what resonate immediately with viewers of this film.
The film is in 2:21:1 (16:9) widescreen. The super 8 footage is low quality, which is understandable. The defining quality of this documentary is this footage and expecting high production quality is just insane. The transfer is free of grain and the flesh tones are good. The colors and contrast do not impress, but also do not distract. The video quality ends up being a reasonable effort overall.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 is not as desirable as one would like. The film is almost entirely interviews, so you would think clarity of sound would be a priority. Unfortunately, there are moments throughout the film where it’s difficult to understand Winston and there is no subtitle feature. So there would be a pause, rewind, play type scenario just so you can fully register what is being said. Other than that, the film is not entirely immersive but does the job.
The only features on the disc are downloadable Bob Dylan mp3’s.
Bob Dylan: Never Ending Tour Diaries is an interesting look at what touring with Bob Dylan would be like. Winston Watson’s stories are humorous and enjoyable. The overall experience is not enlightening by any stretch. However, it does provide an enjoyable 90 minutes.