RIP Mr. Jones – I Don’t Know What Is Happening Here Either

bbdance181.jpg

And he drove a VW!!!

“Mr. Jones,” Who Likely Inspired Famed Dylan Anti-Press Song, Dies at 63

By Greg Mitchell

Published: November 26, 2007 11:55 AM ET


NEW YORK The release last week of the Todd Haynes film sort of based on Bob Dylan, “I’m Not There,” has brought a new focus (if only briefly) on all sorts of facts and myths about the songwriter/musician.

But one matter has so far drawn only local attention: The man who has most often been identified as the “Mr. Jones” who inspired one of Dylan’s most famous songs — and one of the great media-bashing epics of all-time — passed away two weeks ago.

This was covered only by the Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat & Chronicle, where this Jones worked as a copy editor many years later.

Jeffrey Owen Jones, a film professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology died of lung cancer on Nov. 10. He had interviewed Dylan, as a summer intern for Time magazine, shortly before the bard wrote his song, which begins:

You walk into the room
With your pencil in your hand
You see somebody naked
And you say, “Who is that, man?”
You try so hard
But you don’t understand
Just what you’ll say
When you get home
Because something is happening here
But you don’t know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?

Jones had interviewed Dylan at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965 just before he shook up the music world with his first “electric” performance.

“I was thrilled — in the tainted way I suppose a felon is thrilled to see his name in the newspaper,” Jones wrote in a story for Rolling Stone much later. “I was awed too that Dylan had so accurately read my mind. I resented the caricature but had to admit that there was something happening there at Newport in the summer of 1965, and I didn’t know what it was.”

The Rochester paper relates: “Indeed, much more happened to Jones in the ensuing years. He had been born in Manhattan and raised in Westport, Conn., going on to become a star athlete and Rhodes Scholar finalist at Williams College, Williamstown, Mass. He spent time in Uruguay on a Fulbright Scholarship, earned a master’s degree at Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vt., and lived in Spain for a while, writing and directing films.

“He returned to Williams College to teach Spanish and take on the post of dean of freshmen, moved on to become editor of Psychology Today magazine, worked for CBS, produced promotional and educational videos and won a New York Emmy in 1997 for Outstanding Fine Arts Programming.”

His sister Pamela Jones said, “Dylan didn’t paint a vignette of my brother that one would necessarily be proud of. But I think my brother was in the middle of history making. As my brother Christopher said, he was highly educated, but full of soul himself, and played the harmonica himself. And he drove a VW.”

The Wikipedia entry on “Ballad of Thin Man” declares: “One common theory is that the Jones in question was film professor Jeffrey Owen Jones (died November 10, 2007 of cancer). As an intern for Time Magazine, Jones inteviewed Dylan just a day before the musician’s legendary performance at the 1965 Newport Jazz Festival.” But it adds that Dylan himself has also tossed out other candidates, including a British journalist named Max Jones

Discussion Area - Leave a Comment