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Bob Dylan Is Everywhere and Nowhere in the Film 'I'm Not There'

Also: A listener in Vietnam asks about civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.  Transcript of radio broadcast:


Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English.


I'm Doug Johnson. On our show this week:

We listen to some music from a new movie about musician Bob Dylan, and answer a listener's question about an American civil rights leader whose life and work we celebrate this time each year.

Martin Luther King

Our VOA listener question this week comes from Vietnam. Nguyen Thanh Duc asks about American civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Junior and his family.

Each year, Americans celebrate Martin Luther King's life and work on the Monday closest to his birthday. That is January twenty-first this year. Schools and government offices are closed. Cities and towns hold special ceremonies to honor him.

Martin Luther King Junior was born on January fifteenth, nineteen twenty-nine in the southern city of Atlanta, Georgia. His father was a minister of a Christian Baptist Church.

At that time, laws in the American South separated black people and white people. African-Americans attended separate schools and lived in separate areas. They did not have the same civil rights as white people.

Martin attended Morehouse College in Atlanta. He studied the ideas of India’s spiritual leader, Mahatma Gandhi. He also studied the American philosopher Henry David Thoreau. Both Gandhi and Thoreau urged people to disobey unjust laws without using violence.

Martin Luther King wanted to spread these ideas about peaceful protest. He became a Baptist minister like his father. He married Coretta Scott in nineteen fifty-three. They had four children -- Yolanda, Martin Luther the third, Dexter and Bernice.

The Kings were living in Montgomery, Alabama, in nineteen fifty-five. A black woman refused to leave a seat on a bus that was saved for white people. Rosa Parks was arrested. Reverend King organized a peaceful protest against the bus system. The United States Supreme Court later ruled it was illegal to separate the races on buses. Groups formed to protest racial separation. Martin Luther King became the leader of the struggle.

He led many peaceful demonstrations across the country. Reverend King received the Nobel Peace Prize in nineteen sixty-four. He was shot and killed four years later while visiting Memphis, Tennessee. Coretta Scott King started the King Center in Atlanta in nineteen sixty-eight to continue his work. She died in two thousand six.

You can learn more about the life and work of Martin Luther King Junior. Listen to the two-part Special English program PEOPLE IN AMERICA on January twentieth and twenty-seventh.

"I'm Not There"


"I'm Not There" is a new movie about musician Bob Dylan. Todd Haynes directed the movie. He uses six different actors and several different film styles to show the life, work and cultural importance of Bob Dylan. Pat Bodnar tells about the movie and plays some of its music.


Bob Dylan wrote all thirty-three songs on the album of music from "I'm Not There." All but one of the songs are performed by other musicians. Critics say Bob Dylan's songs are so rich and complex that they welcome new versions by other artists. Many of the songs are from Dylan's early career and are the most well-known. For example, this one, "The Times They Are A-Changin'" performed by Mason Jennings.


In the movie "I'm Not There" six actors play versions of Bob Dylan at different times of his life. But none of them is called "Bob Dylan" in the movie. One of the actors is Cate Blanchett, an Australian woman. She portrays a rebellious musician during the nineteen sixties. She is the only character in the movie who looks and sounds like the real Bob Dylan.

Marcus Carl Franklin plays an eleven-year-old African-American boy named "Woody Guthrie." The real Woody Guthrie was a strong influence on Dylan when he began performing folk songs in the early nineteen sixties. Here Marcus Carl Franklin sings "When the Ship Comes In."


Another of Bob Dylan's famous early songs is "Highway Sixty-One Revisited." Karen O and the Million Dollar Bashers perform the song.


Critics say the best songs on "I'm Not There" are the ones where the artists seem to be having a great time being Bob Dylan. Here is an example, Cat Power singing "Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again."


The movie "I'm Not There" shows changes in Bob Dylan's life and career. However, some of the versions of Dylan in the movie are not musicians. One character is a poet. One is a movie star. One is a religious preacher. And one is a citizen of a town in America's Old West long ago. The movie is sometimes confusing. But the music on the CD is always entertaining. This song is one of our favorites. Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova sing "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere."


The real Bob Dylan performs the last song on the album. He recorded it with The Band in nineteen sixty-seven, but it had never before been released. We leave you with "I'm Not There."



I'm Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today.

It was written by Shelley Gollust and Nancy Steinbach. Caty Weaver was our producer. To read the text of this program and download audio, go to our Web site,

Send your questions about American life to Please include your full name and mailing address. Or write to American Mosaic, VOA Special English, Washington, D.C., two-zero-two-three-seven, U.S.A.

Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.