Monday, September 01, 2008

long winded, needless speak

Bob Dylan was a snot, and perhaps he still is. I love Bob Dylan because he makes us wonder why we love him. Of course, in some ways, it is obvious why we love him. His music, and more importantly, his words, have been an influence, and in sometimes even shaped society since they were written. But what is so wonderful is that over the years, he has done his best to make fools of us. He has never confirmed anything but his mystery, and reluctance to be perceived in any one way, or to be a voice for any cause. He dismisses any attempt of ours to "sum him up", and while that seems as though that would be a normal concern of any artist, Bob Dylan seems more successful than most, especially with his iconic status. I would imagine that, in the process of becoming such a popular figure, there would have to be some intention, some calculation involved. Although, it seems that any intention he had was an attempt to confuse us, mislead us, almost an attempt to lose fans. He's challenging. He has never allowed his fans to become complacent or comfortable in their adoration of him. After countless interviews, exhaustive coverage, books, albums, etc; the only thing that remains clear is his very enigmatic nature. In 1963, he insulted the National Emergency Civil Liberties Union in a drunken rant he went while accepting the Tom Paine Award. He let his picture be taken at the crying wall with a yarmulke on, and he also became a Christian, and he also intentionally wrote a bad record, which he admitted doing during a CBS interview with 60 minutes. He remains the "voice of a generation" after years of denying the title, he remains a folk icon after committing a cardinal sin at the Newport Folk Festival, and also denying he himself is a folk musician, despite the the fact that it was the folk community which he found identity in early on. I can see no loyalty to any aspect of the public, no gratitude towards any of his fans. It's magnificent! It's almost as if he exists as a reaction to himself. He simultaneously belittled and reinforced his voice time and time again, in what could be seen as indifference to his fans, maybe even an eagerness to disassociate himself from a movement he had been made the main voice of. He refused to stand for anything, and in that way he stood for so much. Maybe the obtuse manner of the press was a main catalyst for his malignant indifferent nature, perhaps it was as simple as that. I had a conversation with a friend the other night who thought that Bob Dylan's image was completely contrived, and maybe it was. Although, I would never call it a ploy or a "PR stunt", or a gimmick. I think it could be thought as "contrived" in a way that implies pure commitment to his own ideal of who he, himself, should be. Why, even now, do I care to think about this so much? I think it comes down to admiration and fascination. The timelessly relevant importance of Bob Dylan! I'm a sucker for it.


Blogger Melanie said...

It's funny that you posted this now. I just got home from Park City. Yesterday I waited from about 11:45 a.m. until the doors opened at 6:15 to see Bob Dylan. Then I stood in the pouring rain waiting another hour or so for him to take the stage. The concert has been sold out for at least a month. The crowd was really a very interesting group of people of all ages.

He really never said one word (other than as part of his music) during the entire show. I kept thinking how "boring" everyone would say MAE is if they tried the same thing.

He's not really a brilliant vocalist (that was obvious last night although on the higher tones he sounded pretty good, actually) and I did enjoy the show, but I rather have to agree with your assessment. I noticed he does this kind of odd "quick smile" often. It almost seems like nervous habit, or maybe he thinks the joke is on us and can't help smiling just a little? LOL

11:16 AM

Blogger AJ said...

I love Dylan. I call him my "moody melancholic musician." :) The psychology behind him, as much as the music, has kept me captivated. Based on the writing I've read of yours, I think it's interesting that parts of your passionate psyche seem to mirror his.

9:03 PM

Blogger Ezekiel James said...

I think that all musical/artistic personalities or all people, for that matter, are an ongoing PR-Stunt. We are all constantly selling an image to everyone, all the time. To me, there's not a whole lot that's enigmatic about Dylan other than his incessant ability to sell persona after persona to millions of people. On a very basic note, he was/is without a doubt, pop music's finest lyricist

6:42 PM

Blogger Guinevere said...


12:12 PM


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