Tuesday, April 6, 2010

frustrations with the legend

I shall meet the demand...

We watched a movie this week directed by Martin Scorsese called No Direction Home: Bob Dylan. This movie really got my blood pumping. It made me want to grab my guitar and play songs that make people think, make people want to live with purpose. How could one man write words and present them in a way so revolutionary? Its interesting to think, after watching this movie, Bob Dylan would have hated what I just said about him. He wanted never to be called a Revolutionary Figure, or The Face of his Generation.... He hated the silliness of his publicity.

This video makes me frustrated. Why couldn't he just play music he loved and let his viewers love it back? Why did he make himself so complicated? "I am not a folk singer." Come on Bob, yes you are! What other category does your music fall under?! And pa-lease! Do not tell me you don't care about your music. Words that come out of your mouth are beautiful and thought provoking, let us appreciate your work rather than question ourselves for admiring it. You frustrate me as a musician and writer.

Even though Bob Dylan doesn't ever admit he is passionate about his music, I believe he is deep down. Without passion how could he write what he writes? I have to think he cares to some extent and if he doesn't I can no longer listen to his music.
He said once, "What good are fans? You cannot eat applause for breakfast. You cannot sleep with it." I guess his cynicism kept him humble.

Regardless of his religious views, political standpoint, musical talent, or public limelight, Bob Dylan has a mind that I am curious about. So curious it keeps me up at night, and maybe that is his goal. He gets under my skin and torments me and makes me stand in awe all at the same time. I don't think there is a musician in history that could do the same thing Bob Dylan has done. Nevertheless, I think he is foolish to make such ridiculous statements to reporters while being interviewed.

Despite all the questions he raised during the sixties, I think we call all learn from Dylan's work.

How many times must a man look up
before he can see the sky?
How many ears must one man have
before he can hear people cry?
How many deaths will it take till he knows
that too many people have died?
The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind.
The answer is blowing in the wind.

Bob, I'll let you be in my dreams if I can be in yours.


  1. Yeah... I don't think he really cares about his music now, though, I mean... Bob Dylan Christmas Album??? I rest my case.

  2. I know right, bluesy Christmas songs for a good cause - what's he thinking? Have you heard "Together Through Life?"I rest my case

  3. How can you say that? It was a fantastic christmas album!
    I think his way of addressing journalist is based in two things: 1) his lack of respect for reporters that just did not get him and who put him down in their media just to make a buck for themselves, and 2) because you have to listen to the tunes to get that "aha!" experience that his songs gve you. He would reduce their impact if he tried to explain them.
    - Marc de Oliveira

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  5. Dylan was absolutely correct to say he was "not a folk singer" in 1965. And he is not a folk singer now nor ever was. He meant he was not a "folk singer" using the narrow definition that Seeger, Silber, and the other proponents/fans/journalists of the folk revival had in mind when they laid down what was acceptable and not acceptable "folk" music. Dylan's musical influences drew from a wide range of American roots music - much of it pre-dating the term "folk music." And he was evolving at such a rapid pace say from 1962-66 how could he be categorized? I don't blame him for getting annoyed when people pigeon-holed him with a stupid term.

  6. OK... first things first. Dylan is a master manipulator and business man. He is a genius, both blessed and cursed with incredible insight, forsight, and a wickedly strong division of light/dark in his mind as a Gemini. He is a person who I think doesn't even fully understand himself why he does/did certain things. But what he said to reporters in the 60s can in no way be taken as true or false. He absolutely was a folk singer to start. Most of his early music was more than 'borrowed' from the folk tradition. He stole existing songs and ideas, changed them, created brilliant new lyrics, and wha la! Bob Dylan... He thought of himself as a folk singer to the point where he realized how advantageous it would be to destroy his identity and create 'Bob Dylan' the roaming gambling drinking Woody Guthrie update that he idolized so much. But before Dylan was in his folk singer phase he was very much a rock and roll admirer of Little Richard and the like. He is a chameleon of style, period, and change...

    To those of you who say he doesn't care about his work now you are so ridiculously ignorant and I doubt you have spent more than 3 hours of your life listening to Dylan from Time Out of Mind (1997) and on. His album "Love and Theft" is a masterwork and was created the way much of his earlier material was created.. building upon the rich foundation of American music taking pieces from different eras and styles, in some cases whole arrangements of songs and building brilliant new lyrics and insight on top of them. That is what Bob Dylan is. That is why he is a true American artist. The greatest living artist we have. Furthermore The Christmas Album that everybody is so riled up about is for charity. If you listen to it not in the context of the 2010 singing into a vocoder over looping beats is somehow 'music' than of course you will never appreciate it. The band is really tight, the arrangements unapolegeticaly old school and his singing is loose and fun. OK I think that's enough said