Anne Waldman Autobiography:
Renaldo and Clara &The Rolling Thunder Review
[In the fall of 1976] I was also invited to accompany Allen Ginsberg on Bob Dylan's "Rolling Thunder Revue" tour as a "poet in residence" and to help work on the movie Renaldo and Clara, travelling through much of New England and Canada as the show made surprise stops in various towns and cities. Like a nomadic caravan wending its way across cool desert, we'd often travel by night in the exotic buses—except our fancy vehicles came complete with showers, bar, buckets of ice, handy curtained cots, intense conversation, and live music through the night. Many musicians joined in for performances along the way: Joni Mitchell, Eric Anderson, Joe Cocker. Old friend, playwright Sam Shepard from Theater Genesis days at St. Mark's Church was also present, writing dialogue for the film. The shows were phenomenal: energetic, various, unpredictable. Dylan wore white face and had turkey feathers sticking out of his felt hat. He looked, at times, like a Kachina doll. . . . The poem-journal I kept (entitled Shaman) during the tour was published about a year-and-a-half later by a little press in Boston entitled White Raven, then afterwards in a German bilingual edition translated by Jurgen Schmidt and published by Apartment Editions. I had a few salient ideas for the film--one was to show Joan Baez meeting with the Shakers in Maine to ex-change songs and sing "Tis the Gift to Be Simple," but the advance team sent ahead to make the contact which I had initiated thought the Shakers "too old." The idea for the brothel scene filmed at the Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City was mine also, after one look at the chateau's garish red wallpaper and heavy red velvet drapes. I was also filmed in Native American costume reading from Fast Speaking Woman in front of Niagara Falls, a ridiculous scene mercifully cut from the movie, although two minutes of the audio survived as sound track. I had a close look at the rock 'n' roll world and as compelling and glamorous as it was, I felt starved for the conversation of poets and spent much spare time on the telephone "home." When the tour came to Fort Collins, Colorado, I joined in to "design" head gear (I was myself sporting a turban headdress which everyone else wanted to imitate) for the performance which was videotaped and marketed as Hard Rain. I also pressured Bob Dylan to finally let Allen Ginsberg get up on stage to read a poem, which Allen did during the break. He read "On Neal's Ashes," a tribute to desperado Neal Cassady, the legendary inspiration for Kerouac's hero Dean Moriarity in On the Road. I came away appreciating the opportunity to have travelled with an artistic community, to have been supported for the work I did, and the serendipitous nature of the voyage. We never knew exactly where we were going to be next and the public only had twenty-four-hour advance notice. Crowds were delighted by the sudden intrusion. It was a generous occasion. I romanticized the possibility of a similar, scaled-down poetry caravan for years.
Anne Waldman. "Anne Waldman: 1945-," in Contemporary Authors Autobiography Series. Gale Research Series, Volume 17, 1993: 283-285.