Recently, Slate invited readers to view a new Bob Dylan video and enter a contest. The prize? A guitar signed by Dylan himself. The video, for the song “Thunder on the Mountain,” is a compendium of clips shot over the many decades of Dylan’s career; we asked readers to identify the years in which each of 20 clips was shot.
The contest sparked much discussion among Dylan fans, and we received a host of entries. Some of the clips—from iconic films and famous concerts—were easy to identify. But a few showed previously unreleased footage. As a result, only two of our hundreds of entrants correctly identified the dates of all 20 clips. (To see the correct answers, click here.) The most difficult clip to date, by far, was No. 17, which many contestants took to be an excerpt of the 1973 film Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. In fact, it came from some home movies shot in Woodstock, N.Y., in 1967.
Since we had two possible winners, our contest went to the tiebreaker round: We’d asked each contestant to submit an alternate verse to “Thunder on the Mountain.”
Ross Giorgianni of Turtle Creek, Pa., submitted the following:
slap it on the double, and spank it for a time
take whatever you can get, you took all of mine
i got a big bag of sugar, i can hide-out inside the walls
a lot of people don’t care about anything at all
David M. Zornow, of Scarsdale, N.Y., offered this verse:
Out at Timrod’s Corner, where I’s a workin’ drillin’ oil
Bosses gonna get to me and dig me in the soil
Just like a knockout, the whole damn rig done blew
Why won’t you be my baby now and bring me home to you?*
* Inspired, in part, by the novel Thunder on the Mountain by David Poyer
Our panel of expert Dylanologists reviewed the two entries for humor and originality—and pronounced Ross Giorgianni the winner. His verse, they concluded, echoed Dylan’s trademark “inscrutability followed up by out-of-the-blue populism.”
So, congratulations to Mr. Giorgianni. How’d he figure out the tricky 1967 clip? “I knew it was a shot from something I’ve never seen before,” he said, and that ruled out Pat Garrett. He hauled out some old Dylan records, including Nashville Skyline and John Wesley Harding, and after scrutinizing the hat and coat Dylan wore in the unidentified clip, Giorgianni decided they looked like they came from the John Wesley Harding era: 1967. “At the end of the day it was a guess,” Giorgianni said.
Thanks to all who entered.