On this day in 1965, the filming of the promotional film for Bob Dylan’s ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’ took place at the side of the Savoy Hotel in London. Actors in the background were Allen Ginsberg and Bob Neuwirth. This became one of the first ‘modern’ promotional film clips, the forerunner of the music video. The original clip was actually the opening segment of D. A. Pennebaker’s film, Don’t Look Back, a documentary on Bob Dylan’s 1965 tour of England. In the film, Dylan, who came up with the idea, holds up cue cards for the camera with selected words and phrases from the lyrics. The cue cards were written by Donovan, Allen Ginsberg, Bob Neuwirth and Dylan himself. While staring at the camera, he flipped the cards as the song played.
One band that was watching? Inxs. Their song “Mediate” from their 1987 album, Kick, segues from their big hit single, “Need You Tonight.” The song has the distinction of having almost every line rhyme with the word “ate” (as in “Mediate”).
Beneath the lyric “a special date” in the “Mediate” portion of the video, the cue card shown reads “9-8-1945”. This refers to the date 9 August 1945, which was the date the atomic bomb, codenamed Fat Man, was dropped on Nagasaki, Japan. As the date is in the little endian format, with the day first and month second (as per convention in Australia), American observers sometimes confuse the date for 8 September 1945.
The cards contain multiple spelling mistakes, E.G. “Facinate” which should have been “Fascinate”, further emulating Dylan’s video.