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?
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…
…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:http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/john-lennon-the-rolling-stone-interview-19710121
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
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)
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:http://www.examiner.com/bob-dylan-in-national/bob-dylan-and-john-lennon-part-three aaa aaa
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”.
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. …
…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…
…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:http://www.nytimes.com/books/first/f/frank-dissent.html
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:http://swarmuth.blogspot.com/2010/04/strange-case-of-bob-dylan-joni-mitchell.html