one of the boys: men in long black coats

John Lennon was once quoted as saying  that Bob Dylan was intentionally opaque in his lyrics so as to position himself as “secure in his hipness”. It is often taken that Dylan provided the Beatles with the understanding of depth, but is the truth that simple?…As the baby boomers found out after the Summer of Love, there were a lot of winters of discontent. This new attitude of the Woodstock generation turned out to be fairly superficial for many, sustained by a belief in their vision rooted in European utopian thinking and the American myth, particularly that of American exceptionalism. So, much was a gesture, and Dylan is often seen as a man that strikes a pose, but that is all. A pose. Not a statement. But that statement is too harsh. After all, with Dylan, do we really know?

Constance Rourke:Abreast of the frontier, through the widening settlements of the Mississippi, tramped this long-legged wizard, decade by decade, bringing a splatter of color to farms buried deep in the forests, providing the zest of the new tales and sharp talk. He was forever pushing into new regions, and could be descried down the years, walking to Oregon at the heels of the settlers or on the march across the plains to the gold of California. The farther he receded from view the more completely he changed into a sly thin ogre something greater than human size. He was a myth, a fantasy. Many hands had joined to fashion his figure, from the South, from the West, even from New England. What the Yankee peddler was in life and fact can only be guessed. Bronson Alcott was once a peddler. Peddlers may have been chockfull of metaphysics. Their secret has been closely kept. By the end of the eighteenth century the shrewd image had grown secure. But the peddler was only one aspect of the Yankee myth. A many-sided Yankee had emerged at a stride during the Revolution to the tune of "Yankee Doodle," and soon was scattered in numbers over the earth. ... Read More: image:

Why did you choose or refer to Zimmerman, not Dylan.

Because Dylan is bullshit. Zimmerman is his name. You see, I don’t believe in Dylan and I don’t believe in Tom Jones, either in that way. Zimmerman is his name. My name isn’t John Beatle. It’s John Lennon. Just like that…

---You would probably have to look to Jean-Luc Godard, whose Breathless Bob Dylan has cited as the kind of film that made him feel like he could make films himself, to find a movie as audaciously perverse in its analysis of the uneasy alliance between art and commerce as Masked and Anonymous, Dylan’s 2003 (and presumably final) foray into fictional narrative filmmaking. Indeed, Jonathan Rosenbaum might as well have been describing Masked and Anonymous when he wrote in the late 1980s that Godard’s King Lear “. . . has the peculiar effect of making everyone connected with it in any shape or form – director, actors, producers, distributors, exhibitors, spectators, critics – look, and presumably feel, rather silly.” ---Read More:

…Was “Yer Blues” deliberate?

Yes, there was a self-consciousness about singing blues. We were all listening to Sleepy John Estes and all that in art school, like everybody else. But to sing it, was something else. I’m self conscious about doing it.

I think Dylan does it well, you know. In case he’s not sure of himself, he makes it double entendre. So therefore he is secure in his Hipness. Paul was saying, “Don’t call it ‘Yer Blues,’ just say it straight.” But I was self-conscious and I went for “Yer Blues.” I think all that has passed now, because all the musicians … we’ve all gotten over it. That’s self-consciousness. Read More:

Still, Bob Dylan is the Big Kahuna.The man who introduced an entire new palette of emotional expressionism, heretofore non-existent to the popular canon of American music. He grabbed elements of Rimbaud, Baudelaire and Heine and seemed to re-engineer them within the American context creating something original in the process through the odd juxtaposition with American folk culture. Most of the time we have no idea what he is about, but, somehow it seems to work and as such remains one of the world’s great unsolved mysteries. It does appear mystifying that such a brand-name lyricist of sometimes genius proportions can produce such obviously terrible work of almost dumbfounding monotony and an almost intentional lack of excitement. Sometimes its difficult to fathom how the author of Blood On The Tracks could produce work so unambitious and inane that bursts with lyrical and musical cliches.

Much like Herman Melville’s protagonist in The Confidence Man, Dylan conveys a sense that he represents what we want him to represent; a man inside a collective exploration of states of mind. There is certainly the sense of comic travesty like Melville and a romantic reshaping of the past. He is the obscure man behind the mask whose real identity is an unresolvable matter, it being so intertwined with a  wealth of a native mythology, forgotten but resurrected like Melville.Like in the movie I’m Not There, there is a deliberate Melville connection with the stranger,  the Yankee, the backwoodsman, the minstrel, “les flaneurs” or strollers, the cults , the faith revivals, the comic storytellers and myth-makers. All these have formed the base for Dylan’s identity. Their forms, or incarnations were those  deliberately channeled out by humor. Forms such as they were the monologue,  rhapsody and tale whose colorations are drawn from comedy and that other shadowy and mixed mood from which comedy had  had arose in relief of. It was the dark side of the Beatle’s utopia.

There’s a woman by the river
With some fine young handsome man
He’s dressed up like a squire
Bootlegged whiskey in his hand
There’s a chain gang on the highway
I can hea

em rebels yell
And I know no one can sing the blues
Like Blind Willie McTell

Well, God is in heaven
And we all want what’s his
But power and greed and corruptible seed
Seem to be all that there is
I’m gazing out the window
Of the St. James Hotel
And I know no one can sing the blues
Like Blind Willie McTell ( Dylan, Blind Willie McTell)


---A similar shift occurs in Masked and Anonymous whenever “Jack Fate” plays a Bob Dylan song with Dylan’s touring band and Charles and Dylan muddy the waters further by self-consciously studding the film with references to Dylan’s life and career. The result is a kind of fascinating self-criticism of the myth by the author, perhaps only possible when the author is a “living legend”. In this respect, the film most comparable from the history of cinema may be Charlie Chaplin’s Limelight, another highly personal and thinly disguised self-portrait by a master in his autumn years.--- Read More: image:



Shortly before his death, Lennon made some home recordings featuring imitations of Dylan, and as well as a parody of Dylan’s “Gotta Serve Somebody”, entitled “Serve Yourself”…Some have interpreted Dylan’s 1981 song, “Lenny Bruce” as really being about Lennon (notice the similar names), especially the reference to sharing a cab. The “babies” mentioned in the lyrics could be a nod to the Beatles’ notorious “Butcher Cover” of 1966. Read More: aaa aaa

---The best possible response, however, to the question "What are your songs about?" was vintage 60s Bob Dylan: "Oh, some are about four minutes, some are about five, and some, believe it or not, are about eleven or twelve," he replied. == I laughed out loud when I first found this, it is a very clever joke. Karen O'Brien has credited Dylan as having the best possible response to people's reluctance to accept the mystery of songs and Dylan deflects, using the words of Michael Stipe in response. That the passage that drew Dylan's eye also includes mention of "clues and hidden secrets" makes it even more rich. For attempting to be the Sherlock Holmes of the old, weird America I was rewarded with an example of Dylan's wonderful humor and a poke in the eye for playing detective at the same time.--- Read More:

It’s undeniable that Dylan’s “protest” image has been an important cultural force, cutting across social class and weaving its way into the fabric of American society. But, ultimately, they were just songs drenched in a critique, perhaps sincere, of mass society, but not a criticism of the consumerism that drives corporate America. The Dylan tone of rebellion and alienation a la Highway 61 Revisited seems to play into the charms of commercial exploitation through an individualism and difference based on patterns of consumption and a commodification of dissent through distinction as Thoma Frank has written. Dylan’s advertisements for Victoria’s Secret, Cadillac, Pepsi, The Bank of Montreal and so on is proof that individualism sells and gives solid evidence to what Adorno termed “the cultural industries”.

---Joni Mitchell:...As the writer and critic Susan Sontag observed, interpretation is the revenge of the intellect upon art and the world: 'To interpret is to impoverish, to deplete the world - in order to set up a shadow world of "meanings"'. Read More: image:

Thomas Frank, (The Baffler):Consumerism is no longer about “conformity” but about “difference.” Advertising teaches us not in the ways of puritanical self-denial (a bizarre notion on the face of it), but in orgiastic, never-ending self-fulfillment. It counsels not rigid adherence to the tastes of the herd but vigilant and constantly updated individualism. We consume not to fit in, but to prove, on the surface at least, that we are rock `n’ roll rebels, each one of us as rule-breaking and hierarchy-defying as our heroes of the 60s, who now pitch cars, shoes, and beer. This imperative of endless difference is today the genius at the heart of American capitalism, an eternal fleeing from “sameness” that satiates our thirst for the New with such achievements of civilization as the infinite brands of identical cola, the myriad colors and irrepressible variety of the cigarette rack at 7-Eleven. …

Frank:You only need to watch for a few minutes before you see one of these slogans and understand the grip of antinomianism over the corporate mind: Sometimes You Gotta Break the Rules --Burger King If You Don't Like the Rules, Change Them --WXRT-FM The Rules Have Changed --Dodge The Art of Changing --Swatch Read More:

…The two come together in perfect synchronization in a figure like Camille Paglia, whose ravings are grounded in the absolutely noncontroversial ideas of the golden sixties. According to Paglia, American business is still exactly what it was believed to have been in that beloved decade, that is, “puritanical and desensualized.” Its great opponents are, of course, liberated figures like “the beatniks,” Bob Dylan, and the Beatles. Culture is, quite simply, a binary battle between the repressive Apollonian order of capitalism and the Dionysian impulses of the counterculture. Rebellion makes no sense without repression; we must remain forever convinced of capitalism’s fundamental hostility to pleasure in order to consume capitalism’s rebel products as avidly as we do…

---4. The lawsuit event helped the relationship between Apple and Bob Dylan. In 1997, When Apple started it’s famous “Think Different” advertising campaign, Bob Dylan’s image was used together with other celeb like Einstein, Picasso, Hitchcock etc. 5. “Bob Dylan is one of the most respected poets and musicians of our time, and he is a personal hero of mine.” said Steve Jobs when Apple announced new album “Modern Times” from Bob Dylan will be offered through an exclusive pre-order on the iTunes Music Store on August 29,2006.--- Read More:

…The most startling revelation to emerge from the Burroughs/Nike partnership is not that corporate America has overwhelmed its cultural foes or that Burroughs can somehow remain “subversive” through it all, but the complete lack of dissonance between the two sides. Of course Burroughs is not “subversive,” but neither has he “sold out”: His ravings are no longer appreciably different from the official folklore of American capitalism. What’s changed is not Burroughs, but business itself….Read More:


Warmuth:Joni Mitchell made some inflammatory comments regarding Bob Dylan in a recent interview with the LA Times: “Bob is not authentic at all: He’s a plagiarist, and his name and voice are fake. Everything about Bob is a deception. We are like night and day, he and I.”

Juli Weiner at Vanity Fair suggests that Mitchell’s comments might stem from some discoveries that I made regarding Dylan’s use of material from the poet Henry Timrod on his album Modern Times.

The plagiarism portion of Mitchell’s comment doesn’t interest me that much, but I am intrigued by the notion of Dylan and deception that she brings up. Much of Dylan’s recent work does involve elements of deception, much in the same way that the work of Penn & Teller or Ricky Jay is about deception. Dylan has been engaging in puzzles and games and false surfaces and things that are not exactly what they seem. It is not something to put down, it is something to celebrate and marvel at. It is a major aspect of his work. Read More:


This entry was posted in Cinema/Visual/Audio, Feature Article, Ideas/Opinion, Literature/poetry/spoken word, Marketing/Advertising/Media, Music/Composition/Performance and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *