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Bob Dylan doesn’t like you He may be a musical genius, but he's also an obnoxious jerk

Unknowable and unbounded. Credit: Michael Kovac/WireImage

Unknowable and unbounded. Credit: Michael Kovac/WireImage


May 24, 2021   6 mins

“Genius is a terrible word, a word they think will make me like them,” said Bob Dylan in 1966. Fifty years later, the Swedish Academy discovered that he had not revised his position on fulsome acclaim. When Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2016, he didn’t acknowledge the honour for two weeks, and then refused to attend the ceremony, reducing the Swedish Academy to the plaintive status of autograph-hunters waiting by the stage door.

He finally sent the committee a pre-recorded lecture just before the deadline, perhaps only because otherwise he would have had to forfeit the prize money. “I think it’s fair to say that his reaction so far has been rude and arrogant,” grumbled one academy member that October. “He is who he is.”

He is who he is. Bob will be Bob. For Dylan’s admirers, his freewheeling attitude to social niceties is not just part of the package but positive proof of his brilliance. The New York Times described his cold-shouldering of the Nobel as “a wonderful demonstration of what real artistic and philosophical freedom looks like”, which would be news to the likes of Toni Morrison, Harold Pinter and Seamus Heaney. All simpering sell-outs, presumably.

As Dylan turns 80 today, other writers will tell you how he single-handedly redrew the parameters of song-writing by giving rock’n’roll the lyrical ambition of poetry, etcetera, and they will be right. As an artist he is untouchable. But I don’t want to add to the mountain of praise that he finds such an awful burden. While I’m a great admirer of Dylan, I could never call myself a fan because I know what he thinks of fans and I’m not into unrequited love.

I saw him headline Hyde Park in 2019, which one Dylan veteran assured me was an unusually convivial affair because the great man was seen to smile occasionally and didn’t turn his back on the audience. Joan Baez has said that he looks on stage “as though he’d rather be in a dark parlour, playing chess; perhaps in a sense he is”.

Dylan’s fans are practised in lowering the bar. A crowd-pleasing set of beloved hits? Grow up. A hello, goodbye or thanks-for-coming? Dream on. He is the only artist I know of who routinely disfigures the melodies of his classic songs, often beyond recognition. At Hyde Park, my friend said that he was hoping to hear Make You Feel My Love and I had to inform him that Dylan had already played it. During the chorus of Like a Rolling Stone, the crowd staged a joyful mutiny by singing the standard tune regardless of what Dylan was doing on stage, but I sensed no resentment in it.

We all knew what we were signing up for and I had a good time. But I do marvel at his motivations. He must know that on any given night he could trigger an explosion of love with just a few words and a familiar melody, but he never does. He leaves it all on the table.

In interviews, too, Dylan is a master of not giving people what they want. Paul McCartney and Bono will melt the ice and pretend they’re having a friendly chat between equals. But Dylan, by all accounts, is very happy to impress on you that he is Bob Dylan and you are not.

David Hepworth wrote about a typically frosty 1985 encounter: “One of his great strengths is that he gives the impression of genuinely not caring what you or anybody else thinks of him. This must be a natural reaction to having spent most of your life surrounded by people who are desperate to please you.”

But I think that’s too kind. If it were natural, then every superstar would behave like that. Leonard Cohen — no less complex, no less great — was the perfect gentlemen in old age. Bruce Springsteen’s charm is legendary. One can always be decent.

It’s said that Dylan is extremely shy and awkward around strangers but he can be a cold fish with his peers, too. I once heard an anecdote about a rock star who met Dylan for dinner in an English pub with their respective girlfriends and spent almost the entire evening eating in silence. Driving home, the rock star’s girlfriend assumed it had been a mortifying disaster until he said cheerfully, “Well, I thought Bob was on great form.”

I’ve never heard anyone say he was surprisingly nice and down-to-earth, nor envied anyone who has met him. Digging around for evidence of kindness, I found Cerys Matthews once said that a thoughtful call from Dylan had helped rescue her from drug addiction, but I wasn’t exactly spoilt for choice.

Dylan’s personal unpleasantness has been remarkably consistent. As a hungry up-and-comer in the New York folk scene, he was a manipulative schemer who sought out people who could help him, only to discard them once they had fulfilled their purpose. According to folksinger Ian Tyson, who met him in 1961, “Dylan was a little obnoxious jerk in many ways.”

Once he became the scene’s unrivalled star, he had licence to be a bully. “He started using bayonets on people,” said the sister of his girlfriend Suze Rotolo. “He’d find their vulnerable spots, and just demolish them.” According to Baez, another mistreated girlfriend, “he was rarely tender, and seldom reached out to anticipate another’s needs.”

It’s hard, therefore, to put his rudeness down to the intolerable pressure of being worshipped as the voice of his generation. He was cruellest to those who were nice to him. In Don’t Look Back, DA Pennebaker’s classic documentary of his 1965 UK tour, Dylan’s murderous disdain cuts down Baez, Donovan and any journalist who crosses his path. “What a jerk Bob Dylan was in 1965,” wrote Roger Ebert when the film was reissued in 1998. “What an immature, self-important, inflated, cruel, shallow little creature, lacking in empathy and contemptuous of anyone who was not himself or his lackey.”

Of course, there are plenty of people who watch Don’t Look Back and see the ultimate incorruptible renegade sticking it to the phonies who would waste his time and dilute his art. Around this time, Dylan’s personal unpleasantness became intertwined with his artistic integrity. Brilliant artists were expected to be jerks, or at least their jerkishness was not held against them. Sarcastic John was cooler than genial Paul. The Rolling Stones were positively demonic.

Dylan came of age in a period coloured by existentialism, when an untameable, solitary outlaw was the thing to be. Being difficult meant that you refused to conform to the norms of a corrupt society — and a sense of humour, even when it’s weaponised, goes a long way. (Peter Grant, 1973: “Hi Bob, I manage Led Zeppelin.” Dylan: “Hey man, I don’t come to you with my problems.”)

Perhaps, while songwriting is the core of Dylan’s genius, rudeness is his superpower. A more people-pleasing character would not have been able to break the hearts of the folk community that had nurtured him by going electric at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival and turning his back on protest songs, nor write songs as groundbreakingly ruthless as “Masters of War” and “Positively 4th Street”.

His musical contemporaries, like his wives and girlfriends, discovered that his obsession with personal freedom outweighed any sense of commitment or loyalty, and the rest of us, safely outside his blast radius, got some phenomenal music out of it. To thine ownself be true — and fuck everyone else.

I find it impossible to imagine a new artist getting away with behaving like this. It may seem paradoxical now that public discourse feels so much nastier, but celebrity culture is far nicer than it used to be. Today’s stars are expected to join James Corden in Carpool Karaoke, cheerfully read out abusive tweets on Jimmy Kimmel, play well with others on Graham Norton’s sofa and generally impress on the public that they are gracious, collegiate souls who owe everything to their fans.

After a celebrity dies, the anecdotes that go viral are usually tales of selfless generosity and self-deprecating good humour, while the classic “troubled genius” gets increasingly short shrift. Consider the recent canonisation of Dolly Parton, once a figure of fun, now an avatar of decency who funds literacy programmes and vaccine research. Kanye West is perhaps pop’s last jerk-genius and he doesn’t get half as much leeway as Dylan.

I hope I don’t sound moralistic. In this current period of reckoning with the bad behaviour of artists, being simply rude feels like a minor offence. But nor do I understand the masochistic compulsion to make excuses for the man and interpret his failings as an index of ethical purity.

I am trying to state what seems to me to be an obvious fact, which is that we will never again see a star on this scale who gives so little and is so widely admired for it. By making it abundantly clear that he doesn’t need any of us — not journalists, not fans, not peers — Dylan remains unknowable and unbound in a way that I suspect some modern celebrities secretly envy. That is a unique kind of power, albeit faintly inhuman.

So happy birthday Bob, you magnificent jerk. I’m sorry I called you a genius back there but, in my defence, I don’t want to make you like me. You are who you are.


Dorian Lynskey is an author, journalist and UnHerd columnist.

Dorianlynskey

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Johannes Kreisler
Johannes Kreisler
3 years ago

Well, i don’t like Bob Dylan either. Never did. Always regarded him as a pol-beat, agitprop singer-songwritery irritation (or “tingli-tangli” in my mothertongue), with the voice of a castrated sheep. His voice somewhat improved with age though, it’s almost decent now but was truly awful when he was young. Can’t say much about his lyrics as i never quite bothered to find out what he’s singing (as a general rule if i find the sound of a music rubbish, then no matter what its lyrics are, it’s beyond salvation).
There are so many brilliant singers, alive or dead – Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, Frank Zappa, whathaveyou – why on earth is everybody gushing about Bob bl00dy Dylan i will never understand.

Jake Jackson
Jake Jackson
3 years ago

I have considerable understanding and sympathy for your view, especially “the voice of a castrated sheep.” I have a similar view toward the rhythms of hip-hop, and before that, rap. It is unlistenable for me, being a huge fan of blues, swing, R&B, acoustic jazz, and Motown.

Oh, and I have yet to listen to any classical music after WW2 that appeals to me. Somewhere after Rachmaninoff, the composers seemed to decide that melody was for idiots, and became ultra-scholastic, atonal, and airless. This includes Brittan and his famed Requiem, a composition that I consider unlistenable. Yet, I just love the atonal acoustic jazz of the 1950s, which to me is the perfect complement to painters like “Jack the Dripper Pollock.” Go figure.

Which brings up what to me is fundamental: Music, like good sex, works in the lizard brain, or Freud’s Id. If it doesn’t work there, forget it. Dylan doesn’t tickle your Id, and I have no argument whatsoever. To quote the most quotable person I know, myself, about sex: “I have never been argued into a hardon, but I’ve been argued out of a few.” Same goes for music. At the most important level, the appeal (or lack thereof) is unanalyzable. You like it or you don’t. Fine by me, on steroids.

That much said, and I assure you in total sincerity, I am a bit chagrined (not angry, devastated, or weepy, but only chagrined) that you alluded to what I regard as Dylan’s signature song, Mr. Tambourine Man, in negative terms. Hey, it’s your taste, and I don’t argue with taste, but you did manage to pick what I think is a timeless song, and one of real depth, to lampoon.

Hey Mr. Tambourine Man
Play a song for me
In the jingle-jangle mornin’ I’ll come followin’ you

My words cannot express how much meaning it has had for me over the years. Look, it’s okay that you don’t like it, and I’m not arguing you into liking it, because you cannot argue someone into some things. But still, I cannot help but push back in a restrained way.

Dylan has to be understood (the realm of the superego) in the context of his times. Love him or hate him, he really did break the mold with songs that explored what had been largely unexplored territory, the introspective. It was a gigantic break from what had come before in popular music, and opened a new path (for better or worse) for others.

One thing to say about the guy is that he is a life-long rebel, quintessentially American. Dylan has rebelled against everyone and everything, including the expectations of audiences. He rebelled against ’50s conformity. He rebelled against the folk song establishment in Manhattan. He rebelled against rock ‘n roll by recording an album with Johnny Cash. He rebelled against the secularists by recording Christian music — which I didn’t like, but not because of the slant. It didn’t tickle my Id.

His rebellions aren’t why I like a subset of his stuff, but rather it’s something that helps a “fan” like me understand and appreciate where he has come from. I have to say that your “pol-beat agitprop” dismissal really and truly missed the mark, probably because his chalk-on-blackboard voice was your brick wall. Still, you don’t seem to know that the guy gave the middle-fingered salute to the political folkies in about 1965, and boy oh boy did they hate his guts for that.

So even if I’ve not been fond of anything he did after Blood on the Tracks (1974), I salute him for personal integrity and rock-solid independence. He’s no happy-talker, that’s for sure, but he did it his way regardless of what anyone else thought, or whatever box they wanted to put him in. At that level, I see him as a great American Original. “You don’t like it? See if I care. Screw you.” Even if I hated his stuff, I would stand and cheer. He embodied a part of the American character that you really have to be American to fully grasp. Trust me, we do not like being shoved around, and that’s putting it mildly.

The American motto: “You don’t like it? See if I care. Screw you. And know that I am armed, and that I would rather die on my feet than live on my knees.” Dylan’s irascability taps into a very deep well of the American character, and I stand and salute. “You don’t like it? See if I care. Screw you.” Yee-hah. Call me names, but do not come down my 900-foot driveway without an invitation. To quote the Grateful Dead: “Their walls were built of cannon balls/Their motto was ‘Don’t tread on me.’ ” Millions of us take it dead seriously. At some level, it’s pure Idaho, a state I know well. Beware, do-gooders. Idaho doesn’t care, and neither do I. “You don’t like it? See if I care. Besides, I could use the target practice.”

And take me disappearing through the smoke rings of my mind
Down the foggy ruins of time, far past the frozen leaves
The haunted frightened trees, out to the windy beach
Far from the twisted reach of crazy sorrow
Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky, with one hand waving free
Silhouetted by the sea, circled by the circus sands
With all memory and fate driven deep beneath the waves
Let me forget about today until tomorrow

Do you travel? If so, find your way to Rialto Beach, part of the Olympic Nat’l Seashore in far northwest Washington State. Write down those lyrics, and read ’em to yourself when you are out there on the windiest beach in America. (As an aside, I have traveled on every mile of the West Coast, and two-thirds of the East Coast. I know my beaches, and Rialto is in a class by itself, all others being less than 100% of that one. You just have to go there to understand what I am saying. This is saying a lot, because America does not lack for drop-dead beautiful coast, to put it ever so mildly.)

I understand about the voice, but the words? Oh boy. So he was rude to the Nobel Prize people. I read about it and didn’t like it, but you know what? They gave him that literature award for a good reason. All the rest, to me, is whipped cream on dog****. His work, and his words, speak for themselves.

And America? My British cousins, you don’t know it, but you want to be in Idaho. I have very deep experience, from Canada to Mexico, and from sea to shining sea. You want to be in Idaho, whether you know it or not. It is what you once were, and what our “progressives” once were. No pretenses at all, but what’s theirs is theirs, and woe betide they who don’t realize it.

Last edited 3 years ago by Jake Jackson
Mike Boosh
Mike Boosh
3 years ago
Reply to  Jake Jackson

Sounds like Dylan may be a closet Millwall fan: “nobody likes us, we don’t care”.

I admire the attitude, but personally, I just can’t get past that voice… As you say, you either like it or you don’t. Luckily there’s plenty of other stuff to listen to.

kathleen carr
kathleen carr
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike Boosh

I first came across Bob Dylan’s music in the 1970’s when I heard him sing Maggies Farm on the radio & assumed he was an old man. When I asked at the record store I was surprised to be shown his greatest hits album & realised I did know him but only for the covers-Blowing in the Wind ( Peter , Paul & Mary ) , lots by Manfred Mann & the later ones All along the Watchtower ( Jimi Hendrix & Julie Driscoll-This Wheels on Fire-and presumably the money he made from all these hits means he can afford to be unfriendly. Though obviously his fusion of music and language was very important , he also seems to have created the rock critic who likes to compare a person’s music to anything that sounds arty ie Rimbaud , without knowing whether the person is familiar with their work. Not sure why he warrants the Nobel prize as personally I prefer the music of Van Morrison-who is also said to be a bit grumpy.

Mike Boosh
Mike Boosh
3 years ago
Reply to  kathleen carr

That just reminded me, Rage Against The Machine did a great cover of Maggie’s Farm, and I liked Siouxsie Sioux’s cover of this wheels on fire. Probably best not to mention Duran Duran’s cover of “lay lady lay”…it’s on a par with “911 is a joke”.

Jake Jackson
Jake Jackson
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike Boosh

The best treatment of Maggie’s Farm was in one of my favorite comedy movies, The Freshman, a send-up of The Godfather, complete with Marlon Brando. I won’t go into the whole plot, but merely recommend the scene where Bert Parks of Miss America fame sang Maggie’s Farm at a fraudulent dinner where guests paid a couple hundred thousand bucks each to eat chicken passed off as meat from one of the last komodo dragons in existence.

This has to be seen to be believed. Don’t eat while you’re watching it, lest something go the wrong way while you’re laughing. LOL

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago
Reply to  kathleen carr

see my post waiting for Publication,moderation, Van Morrison is one of the few to not disclose his private life, (aka Dylan &Prince) sweet thing is one of my favourite Rock tracks of all time?..

Jake Jackson
Jake Jackson
3 years ago
Reply to  Robin Lambert

What winds up in the moderation queue baffles me, but a lot of things baffle me.

F. G. B III
F. G. B III
1 year ago
Reply to  kathleen carr

Well Kath, look who they awarded the Peace Prize to.

Tim Knight
Tim Knight
3 years ago
Reply to  Jake Jackson

Up tick for your last paragraph.
I let Dylan into my adolescent British heart. I wish I hadn’t. I think for all his beauty and longing, listening to him and him alone wasn’t good for me. I despised Wham etc but probably would have been happier if I hadn’t.

Hugh Jarse
Hugh Jarse
3 years ago
Reply to  Tim Knight

Same for me with Leonard Cohen. Absolute disaster. But after a thirty year interregnum I revisited and found a different man. Me, not him. LC remained a genius. And just got better.

Martin Tuite
Martin Tuite
2 years ago
Reply to  Hugh Jarse

Talking about genius, this is what bob had to say omn the subject: ““There’s only one guy that I know who did it all, and that was Irving Berlin. This guy was a flat-out genius.” Robert Love, AARP The Magazine, February/March 201

ray.wacks
ray.wacks
3 years ago
Reply to  Jake Jackson

Yes.

Hilary Easton
Hilary Easton
3 years ago
Reply to  Jake Jackson

Thank you for your brilliant comment – I’m desperate to go to Idaho now.
I so agree about the voice, although some of his songs, that have been ostensibly done much better by others, somehow come through stripped bare and even more heartbreaking with his harsh, unpolished and unornamented vocals.
I have a lot of sympathy with his distaste for fandom. I find the abject adoration given to musicians repellent. I salute him for giving them a hard time, except it seems to have made them worse.

Jake Jackson
Jake Jackson
3 years ago
Reply to  Hilary Easton

There were times when his voice really worked with the material. There were also times when that voice did little more than hurt a listener’s ears. LOL

By the way, if you think you’ll ever travel here, I know the West very, very well, and love giving advice that you will not likely find in guidebooks. Too many people (not just foreigners) think the West is all about the national parks. They rush around, the distances being what they are, and wind up missing the whole point in their rush to take pictures of buffalo while sitting behind 100 vehicles in Yellowstone, one of the most overrated national parks. I roll my eyes and smile.

Idaho is beyond magnificent, but that’s true of the whole West, at least if you skip the jam-packed parks and the Olde West Inc. boutique towns. The spirit of the West is alive and well, as is The Great Yonder, where the informed traveler can be as alone in the utter splendor as is possible in an industrial country in the 21st Century.

Idaho? Well, put it this way. If I ever get that letter from the Internal Revenue Service, I know where I can go to be taken in, few questions asked. These are big-hearted, friendly people, until anyone tries to push ’em around. That’s the America I love at the cellular level.

Last edited 3 years ago by Jake Jackson
Mark Melvin
Mark Melvin
3 years ago
Reply to  Jake Jackson

Great article but Mr. Jackson what a suite of fabulous comments! I was going to be smart and point out the ridiculousness of one comment about America never being on their knees after the last year’s surrender to BLM, but was overtaken by your breathless references to Idaho. My wife and I have been to 43 US states and one of the missing ones is Idaho. Closest was Wyoming (yes Yellowstone too) and we headed out into the Big Country. As you say, magnificent. We’d head back in a heartbeat. Will also check out that beach in Washington State when we complete our north/south road trip along the Pacific Coast Highway. Thanks again and do please keep writing those comments.

Jake Jackson
Jake Jackson
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Melvin

I have visited 26 countries, including the UK about a dozen times. No sane person could ever credibly accuse me of being jingoistic. But I’ve also driven >450,000 road trip miles, and flown at least another half-million, within this country. All 50 states, all but one of them (South Carolina) more than once, and most a lot more than once. I am so deeply and thoroughly in love with America The Beautiful that my words cannot possibly express the real depth of my feelings about our sacred land. This is such an amazing place.

Something written by someone else, out in Eastern Oregon, a region made famous by no one, and right smack at the top of my worldwide list. I’m not from there, so I think I can say I come by this honestly. That country, which adjoins Idaho, ain’t for everyone. The worst you could say is that you were bored. But if you like it, trust me, you will not just like it. Your heart will sing, and threaten to leap out of your chest, at the vast wonder of it all.

The following might come across as romantic hyperbole. Yes, romantic, but I am here to tell everyone that it’s true as it gets, right as the rain, a check you can take to the bank and cash. This is the America that makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up, no exaggeration. I am no one’s mystic, except for this.
—–
Out here the atmosphere is so clear one can stand outside at night, reach up, and almost touch the stars. The Milky Way carves an arc across the heavens like a white sash. The sun shines at least three hundred days a year. It gets hot in the summer and well below zero in the winter. Almost without fail in the summer, a cool breeze arrives in the early afternoon, and in winter the humidity is so low that even below-zero temperatures are easily tolerated. …

This can be a lonesome country, eerily silent at times, especially at night. When coyotes out there in the sagebrush start howling at the moon, checking in and discussing the night’s activities with their pals, they are only making plans to locate something to eat. You might hear an owl up in one of the trees, his big eyes peeled for a mouse for breakfast, telling everyone about it with his mournful call. In the quiet of the night, howling coyotes and that sudden mournful call of the owl can send a chill up the back of the uninitiated youngster.

Sometimes the silence can be there in the daylight, too. And that is good. If it is very quiet, you will hear the song of the meadowlark sitting on a fencepost close by, or the scream of an eagle or a hawk circling overhead, like those coyotes and the owl, hunting for some lunch. When you see those things and hear those sounds, no matter how crazy and mixed up this old world is today, you know goodness still exists on this land – pure, God-given, natural goodness.

If it’s crowds of people, bright lights, car horns, angry drivers and the hustle bustle of the city that you desire, this is definitely not the life for you. I suspect most folks who drive Highway 95 in this part of Oregon would consider it the most boring, desolate stretch of road in America. We leave them to their thoughts, and wish them Godspeed. In our haste today, it is easy to miss the beauty and serenity of this wonderful land. For those people born and raised here, for those who have lived their lives here, and for others who have sought the solitude, this is their Eden.

– High Desert Promise, John Sackett Skinner

Last edited 3 years ago by Jake Jackson
Jake Jackson
Jake Jackson
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Melvin

By the way, when you go down U.S. 101 and California 1, you’ll hit the redwoods. Along the way, you will see something called “Trees of Mystery,” which looks like a typical tourist trap. I can’t count how many times I passed it and laughed, until someone clued me in.

“Trees of Mystery” is a family operation. The tourist trap exists to support one of the best native arts and crafts museums you’ll ever see, along with a shop where you can buy the real thing if you can afford it.

The Smithsonian Institution, a complex of about 15 museums in Washington, D.C., government funded with more money than god, knows all about Trees of Mystery. They tried to buy the collection. Flew the family back East, wined ‘n dined ’em, hoping to get their smug, greasy hands on it. The family’s response was, “Thanks for your interest, but we will keep it here.”

These are my people. I proudly look eastward and raise a middle finger salute toward Washington, D.C.

Last edited 3 years ago by Jake Jackson
F. G. B III
F. G. B III
1 year ago
Reply to  Jake Jackson

At last I saw redwoods. They grow in mostly pure stands with nothing else. Absolutely no variety. Once I grokked this I had to agree with Ronald Reagan.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
3 years ago
Reply to  Jake Jackson

He didn’t have a croaky voice, did he? He had a sort of adenoidal quack-cum-honk with a peg over his nose, like fingernails down a blackboard.

Starry Gordon
Starry Gordon
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

I believe the quack-honk-screech (you forgot the rusty-door screech) may have been part of the obnoxious jerk act. Don’t complain; the act evidently worked.

Jonathan Marshall
Jonathan Marshall
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Who was it sang a song about “…Robert Zimmerman… with your voice like sand and glue”?
Whoever it was, he got it spot on.
PS – Had to look it up. David Bowie, “Song for Bob Dylan”. Classic.

Last edited 3 years ago by Jonathan Marshall
litinbikitmiki
litinbikitmiki
3 years ago
elaine chambers
elaine chambers
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

I liked his voice, it was appropriate to the songs. You had to be familiar with Blind Lemon Jefferson to see why. I came across Jefferson before I came to Dylan which is probably why I understood the voice.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
3 years ago

He sounds to me a bit like the Penguin, out of Batman, would have sounded, had he ever burst into – well, I was going to say “song”. But it’s not strictly song if you don’t sing because you can’t.
Who did that record Disco Duck? That could have been Dylan “singing” on that.

Last edited 3 years ago by Jon Redman
Jake Jackson
Jake Jackson
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

I see you were downvoted for that. I am a big “fan” of Dylan’s stuff, but going after his voice is entirely fair game in my book.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
3 years ago
Reply to  Jake Jackson

If you play this
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sysgZabVlZw
then this
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IwOfCgkyEj0
you’d say it was the same session “singer”.

litinbikitmiki
litinbikitmiki
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

that’s because your a quizzical jerkoff stuck in a land make-believe Jewish degenerecy ….how bout trying to grow up and stop comparing things to fictional comic book/ movie characters?

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago

Yep Dylan most commonly 1961-65 pre Electric,resembled Blind lemon Jefferson, And Woodrow Guthrie..

Jake Jackson
Jake Jackson
3 years ago
Reply to  Robin Lambert

I had forgotten all about his early covers of Guthrie tunes. Dylan was a huge Guthrie fan, and visited him on his death bed.

Last edited 3 years ago by Jake Jackson
Dean Baker
Dean Baker
3 years ago
Reply to  Jake Jackson

certainly in what passes for contemporary cultural attitudes there are a lot of people standing around only desperate to be noticed in their statements that amount to ‘I Da Hoe’

robert scheetz
robert scheetz
3 years ago
Reply to  Jake Jackson

Right, the progression from “Blowing in the Wind” to “Tambourine Man” to “Absolutely 4th St.” from Woody Guthrie to LSD to burn out. Once the LSD had run its course Dylan’s muse dried up. And that’s why he’s he’s acting the jerk. He knows he’s become a faker, and doesn’t want it to show. He really doesn’t have anything to say.

Jake Jackson
Jake Jackson
3 years ago
Reply to  Jake Jackson

I liked Dylan’s Mr. Tambourine Man much more than the Byrds’ version, but I raise a toast to the Byrds having set the Book of Ecclesiastes to music in Turn, Turn, Turn. That group was chock full of amazing talent.

Last edited 3 years ago by Jake Jackson
Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago
Reply to  Jake Jackson

The byrds ”Wheels of Fire” Also as good as brian Augur trinity&Julie driscoll?…Roger Mc guinn is as influential guitarist as dylan is songwriter..I saw mc guinn on bobs autumn tour in 1987 he was the Best of dylans revue…

Jake Jackson
Jake Jackson
3 years ago
Reply to  Robin Lambert

This might be a misrecollection, but I think there’s a great version of the song on The Basement Tapes, the 1966 collaboration between Dylan and The Band. Probably my favorite Dylan recording. It is unlike all the rest of his output, and it’s in my “Desert Island 10,” the list of records I’d want with me if I were marooned. If you get one Dylan record, I say that’s the one to get.

Last edited 3 years ago by Jake Jackson
Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago
Reply to  Jake Jackson

1.Highway 61 Revisited 1965 June 2.Blonde on Blonde June 1966 3.Bringing it all Back home 1965?…I dont like his forays into Country 1969-70

F. G. B III
F. G. B III
1 year ago
Reply to  Jake Jackson

Totally over-rated song and over-rated book of the Bible. Like the Sermon on the Mount. Don’t understand why folks go ga-ga over it. And lastly, same with Beethoven’s 9th. Retire it for 50 years. I guess I just don’t like repetition.

litinbikitmiki
litinbikitmiki
3 years ago
Reply to  Jake Jackson

way to leave a comment that’s twice as long as the article your commenting on…..
rampant narcissism gone wild.

what the hell…..at least you added your piece to the Zeitgiest .

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 month ago
Reply to  Jake Jackson

I enjoyed reading your comment as much as I did the article.

dean edge
dean edge
3 years ago

Ah Tingl-Tangl a versionwas still going in Prague pre Czechia’s catastrophic mishandling of the pandemic. I do sort of agree and I especially dislike those very grown up Lit Crit fan boys endlessly comparing him to Wordsworth or Homer BUT BUT BUT The Songs. Some of them are simply undeniably great and he still has it. Try I contain Multitudes on his 2019 last album.

Jake Jackson
Jake Jackson
3 years ago
Reply to  dean edge

My acquaintance with the English Romantics is somewhat sadly limited to a freshman English lit class from 45 or so years ago. From what I recall, I can’t see a valid comparison to the Romantics, but it might be that I’m not too familiar with Wordsworth.

Homer? Whoever made that comparison must have been on drugs. Say what you will about Homer or Dylan, but I did read The Illiad (the original splatter book — Steven King, eat your heart out), and if there’s a resemblance it must be my fault for not taking enough LSD to detect it. LOL

dean edge
dean edge
3 years ago
Reply to  Jake Jackson

You just cant see that Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands is about Athena casting her charisma on the battlefield or that Mr Tambourine Man is clearly Apollo…its not psychotropics you need.

Jake Jackson
Jake Jackson
3 years ago
Reply to  dean edge

I will do something that few people ever do on the Internet, and admit that I don’t know everything. No question about it, my education in the literary classics has at least as many holes as a block of Swiss cheese. LOL

F. G. B III
F. G. B III
1 year ago
Reply to  Jake Jackson

It’s always the metaphor of holes and Swiss cheese – jeez!

F. G. B III
F. G. B III
1 year ago
Reply to  dean edge

‘These are not the psychotropics you’re looking for’.

Dr Stephen Nightingale
Dr Stephen Nightingale
3 years ago

Well for sure The Byrds did a much better job with Mr Tambourine Man. For years I never knew it was Dylan’s creation.

Geoff H
Geoff H
3 years ago

‘… why on earth is everybody gushing about Bob bl00dy Dylan i will never understand.’
Why indeed, seems to me some people are desperate to get something from him, a glance, a scowl, some parental recognition they never got. They stand in awe, possibly worship, and don’t know why, if they even ask why.

kathleen carr
kathleen carr
3 years ago
Reply to  Geoff H

‘Don’t follow leaders , watch the parking meters’

Jake Jackson
Jake Jackson
3 years ago
Reply to  Geoff H

That’s a perceptive and accurate comment. Even in the very beginning of his career, Dylan projected emotional vulnerability, and as that turned toward rebellion against everything, he tapped into a deep vein largely ignored by the popular music of the day.

Consequently, Dylan became a sort of pied piper (Mr. Tambourine Man directly acknowledges it) to millions of young people searching for more depth and meaning in the what was a homogenized American post-WW2 culture that clung to material comfort after the harrowing depression and war.

Everyone wanted a piece of the guy, and what I read over the years tells me that his irascible temper was connected to that. He always struggled with his icon status. Maybe he’s as awful as the article here says, but a tad bit of perspective and understanding are in order.

Last edited 3 years ago by Jake Jackson
dfalessio
dfalessio
2 years ago
Reply to  Jake Jackson

Precisely love the man’s music I can empathize with media malice it’s short coming must be difficult to navigate Only today super star athlete Tennis Asoso Naso tossed in the towel claiming her struggle with post media talks unreal she was fined unconscionable So she made her choice leave Good for her! Media needs to learn to control itself they are way out of order imo

Martin Tuite
Martin Tuite
2 years ago
Reply to  Geoff H

Don’t think twice, it’s alright!

dfalessio
dfalessio
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Tuite

So longgg honey babe where I’m bound I can’t tell, good byes too good a word baby so I just say fare thee well, I’m thinking wondering walking down the road I once loved a woman a child I’m told I gave her my heart but she wanted my soul

James Chater
James Chater
3 years ago

What makes a ‘brilliant’ singer? None of the three mentioned are ‘brilliant’. Kind of agree about the ‘sound’ being a turn-on/off. For that reason, Nashville Skyline, one of his least ‘important’, but best sounding, was the first one that at random, grabbed me.
It would be hard to argue that without Dylan, reflecting and provoking, the shifting of the 1960s ‘youthquake’ would have been so significant. He is an important historical figure.

Last edited 3 years ago by James Chater
Jake Jackson
Jake Jackson
3 years ago
Reply to  James Chater

I was a big fan of that album. Not only did I simply like it, but his foray into country music with Saint Johnny Cash, opened my mind about country music in a big way.

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago
Reply to  James Chater

Nashville Skyline &1970 Self Portrait are two of his Worst Albums, Triptych 1965 ”bringing it all back home” 1965 ”Highway 61 Revisited” 1966 ”Blonde on Blonde” 3 of the best Rock albums still better than Rage against the machine Sycho Untalent artistes (simon cowell) most of which have faded over the years..

Jake Jackson
Jake Jackson
3 years ago
Reply to  Robin Lambert

Not a fan of Self Portrait, which I consider forgettable. We’ll just have to disagree about Nashville Skyline.

“Country music” is a huge category, much wider than most people know. His foray into the polished Nashville sound was only part of it for Dylan. His 1966 collaboration with The Band, The Basement Tapes, is chock full of country music in a decidedly pre-Nashville way, drawing way back into the 1800s.

I recommend that one if for no other reason than to widen your view of American country music. Something similar, at least in the vein it tapped, was Norman Blake’s Fields of November. Few people know who Blake is, for he was never a commercial success. Three Grammy Awards, when those things actually meant anything. Nor was The Basement Tapes a financial success; its appeal was to a narrow range well outside of the commercial mainstream.

Ignore all of that, and find the recordings.

Something else to say about Nashville Skyline. Regardless of whether you like it, that one was influential. It was one of the first fusions of country music, then dominated by the older Grand Ole Opry royalty, and younger artists performing in other genres.

It opened the way for a lot more of that. Without Nashville Skyline, I’m not sure that the Flying Burrito Brothers or Gram Parsons ever would have been recorded. As rock and roll petered out after 1970 or so (before the rise of “new wave” and “punk”), a hybrid “progressive country” took hold, and led a whole lot of young Americans toward musical styles that they never would’ve otherwise known.

None of this means that you somehow have to like Dylan’s collaboration with Johnny Cash, only that it would be wise to understand the significance of that recording in its time.

Last edited 3 years ago by Jake Jackson
Martin Tuite
Martin Tuite
2 years ago
Reply to  Robin Lambert

Could not agreee more about “Bringing it all back home” and “Highway 61 revisited”. I listen to some of the tracks on those albums and its like an electrifying jolt of pure joy surges through me. Yeehah!

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
3 years ago

“Well I don’t like Bob Dylan either” by which it is clear you mean musically, perfectly fair enough. But entirely missing the point, the author DOES very much admire Dylan, notwithstanding that he considers him a rude jerk!

In that respect, if in no other, you are conforming to the very modern, one-dimensional, and even ‘woke’ sensibility that cannot tolerate the idea of any flaws being attributed to great people, however they define this greatness. (Or for that matter virtues in people considered wicked).

Jake Jackson
Jake Jackson
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

I guess it’s a matter of perspective and experience. Dylan’s crankiness has been very well-known for a long time. My own counterreaction is by no means borne of a defensive need to protect or worship the guy as a demigod, but more of an eyeroll.

Quentin Vole
Quentin Vole
3 years ago

As the great philosopher, Sir Benjamin Hill, observed:
Now the folksinger came from America
To sing at the Albert Hall,
He sang his songs of protest
And fairer shares for all.
He sang how the poor were much too poor
And the rich too rich by far,
Then he drove back to his penthouse
In his brand new Rolls Royce car.
“What a world” (1965)
I can’t imagine who he might have had in mind.

Jake Jackson
Jake Jackson
3 years ago
Reply to  Quentin Vole

Anyone who sticks Bob Dylan into the political protest box clearly has never listened to Positively 4th Street, which ripped the folkies to shreds. They wanted to control him. He was having absolutely none of it, and made it crystal clear. The folkies were stunned, having regarded themselves rather too highly.

Not to mention the hostility that greeted him when he went electric, I believe in ’65. They booed him at the Newport Folk Festival, and his answer from stage to a heckler was: “I don’t believe you. You’re a liar.” Then he had the band crank it up to 11 while he sang Like A Rolling Stone. “In your face” would be a good way to put it.

Say what you will about Bob Dylan and his grating voice, but no one with any knowledge of the guy will ever dispute that he has always been his own man — and in a quintessentially American fashion. “You don’t like it? Screw you.”

Even if I didn’t like his stuff, I thoroughly approve of his stubborn independence. For that reason alone, I consider Dylan, any character flaws notwithstanding, to be a truly great American. No one ever shoved that fella around, that’s for certain.

Last edited 3 years ago by Jake Jackson
dfalessio
dfalessio
2 years ago
Reply to  Jake Jackson

Well put! Not one has truly listened to his songs that may not have been on the top ten or 20, there is a plethora of his songs lyrics that will straighten out any who choose to put him in a square peg. He has been crystal clear for many years that it was a poor idea to “sell” your soul to the media. His list of fans myself yourself want the music not the man, he has his life we ours that’s pure and simple. Too many have bought into the business of critiquing others when perhaps better time be spent on self awareness and critique. There are interviews way back where he tells the interviewer “you are putting words in my mouth” coming from the 60’s we were ripe politically in “fear of this that and anything else. As his so called songs of protests he has been labeled an antagonist when govt of that era gets in your face you change your tune or for Dylan you tweak your style imo

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago
Reply to  Quentin Vole

Yep also a satire on Barry Maguire ”eve of destruction”..Sonny &cher later featured in his sendups on youtube …..Benny Hill,Look what PR*** have tried to do to him..far better than Right on PC wokeists ”Comedians..’.

Jake Jackson
Jake Jackson
3 years ago
Reply to  Robin Lambert

They used to make comedy albums, and I say the very best was National Lampoon’s Radio Dinner, 1972 I believe. It included wicked, hilarious satires of John Lennon, Joan Baez (called “Her Nibs” on the record), Barry Maguire, George Harrison, Yoko Ono.

And of Dylan, narrating a fake TV commercial for an oldies record called Golden Protest. Word was that Dylan was thoroughly outraged and threatened to file a lawsuit. No one ever accused the guy of having much of a sense of humor. No lawsuit, parody being protected by that pesky 1st amendment that Prince Hankus doesn’t like.

The best of those pop star parodies was of Joan Baez. The title of her fictitious song was Pull The Tregroes, in which the imitator sang some lyrics so politically incorrect that they’d never make their way past Unherd’s censors. Youtube took it off, but you can still find the entire record, and then search for it within the recording.

It was a roll-on-the-floor laughing sendup of Baez’s pretenses, among them being her hippie activist support for the Black Panthers, a vicious group of criminals with a “revolutionary” wrapper.

Pull the triggers (it rhymes)
We’re with you all the way
Just across the Bay
Whether it’s in Oakland or Marin
We’re with you all the way, across the Bay

and

Joan Baez is the name, I’ve a house by the sea
My songs come rolling in off Highway 1
Just because I can’t be there
Doesn’t mean that I don’t care
So next time, brother, off a pig for me

and

I’m the world’s madonna, la da donna, la da donna
I’m needed from Belfast to Bangladesh
So many grievous wrongs for me to right with tedious songs
But I know you’ll always be there to fall back on

That was before the “progressives” ruined comedy.

Last edited 3 years ago by Jake Jackson
Jake Jackson
Jake Jackson
3 years ago

Here’s my question: Since when did we have to care whether a celebrity “likes” us, or whether we “like” them? This goes triple for those with original talent. If Dylan is a jerk, it’s of only passing interest; in his case, the 1960s press hounded the guy with stupid and irrelevant questions, and Dylan treated them like the clowns they were. Three cheers for that. I’ve watched some recordings of old interviews, and wanted to stand and cheer for him.

Look, kids, if (like my father), you hate his voice and the words and music didn’t connect, that’s a perectly reasonable stance. I have utterly no problem with that at all. There are plenty of popular music icons whose output never did anything for me. Michael Jackson would be my example. I never appreciated his post-Jackson Five music. I simply didn’t like what came after Motown. The rest of his bizarre antics had nothing to do with it.

Dylan was a creative artist with considerable talent. His output from the early ’60s into the early ’70s was often monumental. Artists are often difficult people who fail to color inside the lines. Whether they’re complete jerks is irrelevant beyond idle curiosity. Judge their work, and leave it at that. Perhaps someone can examine the interplay between an artist’s personality and their work, but the former is of interest only as it might have influenced the latter. Van Gogh comes to mind, his mental illness being quite relevant when examining his work.

It’s hardly been a secret for the last 50 or so years that Dylan has a difficult and combative personality. So what? If I knew him, maybe I’d despise him as a person, but I wouldn’t throw his recordings out of the collection.

Last edited 3 years ago by Jake Jackson
AC Harper
AC Harper
3 years ago
Reply to  Jake Jackson

Ah! But in today’s “Music Industry” you have to be beautiful and liked *first* before your production team will find some suitably forgettable boom-tish music. Perhaps Dylan is now being judged by todays music machine expectations, and he doesn’t care. Arguably not giving a stuff about what other people think of you is even move of a rebellion than a protest song.
Meanwhile people who like music will continue to find it or make it for the pleasure it gives them.

Last edited 3 years ago by AC Harper
James Chater
James Chater
3 years ago
Reply to  AC Harper

Yes, such a sobering thought. Imagine if a Dylan had first come along today?
I am young enough to have rebelled against the ‘Dylan’. Those who he influenced – little did I know it: Lou Reed, Syd Barrett, early David Bowie, John Cooper Clark (flattery to the nth degree) meant more to me then. At least I got there in the end.

Last edited 3 years ago by James Chater
Jake Jackson
Jake Jackson
3 years ago
Reply to  AC Harper

The internet is a wrecking ball in many ways, and that includes popular music. Gone are the days when record labels could bring along new artists. Albums are pretty much gone, and radio is unrecognizable now. The paths are washed out.

Martin Tuite
Martin Tuite
2 years ago
Reply to  Jake Jackson

Maybe that’s why Dylan made this comment: “If I had to do it all over again, I’d be a schoolteacher — probably teach Roman history or theology.” Robert Love, AARP The Magazine, February/March 2015

Mark Gourley
Mark Gourley
3 years ago
Reply to  Jake Jackson

Thank you – wise comment. But David Bowie (for example) was to my mind a greater creative artist – and, by all accounts, was a far nicer person too.

Jake Jackson
Jake Jackson
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Gourley

My enduring impression of Bowie is his resemblance to Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill. LOL. There are times when I look at a 20 and starting singing Young American to myself.

Last edited 3 years ago by Jake Jackson
Charles Rense
Charles Rense
3 years ago
Reply to  Jake Jackson

Andrew Jackson had incredible hair. If great hair is enough to excuse Che Geuvara’s mass-murders and racism, why can’t it excuse Jackson’s?

Ultimately I suppose his biggest mistake was not also having dashing facial hair.

Jake Jackson
Jake Jackson
3 years ago
Reply to  Charles Rense

My comment carried no judgment. They simply have a resemblance, that’s all. It amuses me.

Martin Tuite
Martin Tuite
2 years ago
Reply to  Jake Jackson

Beethoven was, by all accounts, a ill-tempered, unpleasant bug*er. Doesn’t put me off enjoying his music.

Gerry Quinn
Gerry Quinn
3 years ago

Luckily for Dylan, I don’t like him because he’s nice.

Rocky Rhode
Rocky Rhode
3 years ago
Reply to  Gerry Quinn

Fair comment. His music at its best is brilliant, but I always felt the lyrics betokened an out-and-out misanthrope.

Jake Jackson
Jake Jackson
3 years ago
Reply to  Rocky Rhode

Interesting comment. First time I’ve ever seen that objection. Can you elaborate?

Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
3 years ago

No one has yet been able to explain to me why Dylan is such a genius. I get the impression that if you were born in the 1940s in the US and came of age in the 60s he ‘stood’ for something that mattered which is why people get very defensive about it. But I just don’t get the fuss. The Nobel prize committee embarrassed themselves. If you need to explain, it, it ain’t what you think it is.

Mike Boosh
Mike Boosh
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

I know what you mean. Maybe you just had to be there at the time…I wasn’t and never understood the fuss.

Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike Boosh

Especially when there’s so much that came out of the 60s that WAS genuinely different and innovative. Even more mainstream stuff like Exile on Main Street by the Stones still sounds great. I have never understood how anyone could listen to ‘The Times they are a-changing’ and conclude it was a work of staggering genius

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

Have you guys never listened to Highway 61 Revisited, Bringing It All Back Home, and Blonde on Blonde? I am far from being a Dylanologist or a massive fan, but nobody in the field or rock/pop has ever really surpassed the quality and invention of these records.

Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

I tried listening to Blood on the Tracks and got nowhere. Thanks I’ll try those out – maybe I’m being unfair to Bob! As for whether he’s ’nice’ – it’s utterly irrelevant. Most of my literary heroes especially behaved like absolute cads in their personal lives.

Last edited 3 years ago by Jeff Butcher
Jake Jackson
Jake Jackson
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

Blood On The Tracks was a mixed bag for sure. Even though a lot of it wasn’t his stuff, I highly recommend The Basement Tapes, recorded in 1966 after his motorcycle accident. Widely bootlegged, then digitally remastered and re-introduced “above ground.” Probably my favorite album of his.

Hugh Jarse
Hugh Jarse
3 years ago
Reply to  Jake Jackson

Recall reading that Dylan himself regarded Blood on the Tracks as his least preferred work. Maybe for reasons other than the music.
Personally, one of my favourites. Up there if not slightly behind Blonde on Blonde.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Balanced by the execrable “Man gave names to all the animals”, though.
He saw an animal that liked to snort
Horns on his head and they weren’t too short
It looked like there wasn’t nothing that he couldn’t pull
I think I’ll call it a bull
He saw an animal leaving a muddy trail
Real dirty face and a curly tail
He wasn’t too small and he wasn’t too big
“I think I’ll call it a pig”
Like something a 5-year-old would write for poetry homework.

Jake Jackson
Jake Jackson
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

That one was from 1979. I have never connected to anything Dylan wrote after 1974’s Blood on The Tracks.

Starry Gordon
Starry Gordon
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

A lot of his stuff seems lifted from other people, back to the Bhagavad-Gita really. I figured he was in New York, went to a lot of loft parties, got a load on, and sponged up a lot of what was being said and done around him, hashed it up, and emitted it at the right moment. This is not to say that I don’t like it, at least the period after the folkie stuff, which was highly imitative, and before the country and western stuff, which wasn’t even a good imitation. There are people who say he was totally wacked out on drugs the whole time, and then when he crashed his motorcycle he got dried out and didn’t want to or couldn’t go back his old self. Didn’t lose the nastiness, though.

Jake Jackson
Jake Jackson
3 years ago
Reply to  Starry Gordon

Dylan did a lot of “borrowing,” first from the blues guys he heard on the radio while growing up, and then from the folkies in Manhattan. He really didn’t come into his own until he left the folkies behind in 1965.

mike otter
mike otter
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

Exile on Main St was 1972 ish, though some of the songs on it date back to the late 60s, but i think Dylan’s work across both decades still stands up alongside his peers, though direct comparison with a rock band as mainstream as the Stones is difficult. I’d sooner compare Dylan with Leonard Cohen or Joni Mitchell

Last edited 3 years ago by mike otter
Jake Jackson
Jake Jackson
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

Big Scottish sea chanty influence on that one.

kathleen carr
kathleen carr
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

He was initially part of the folk protest movement , but rather quickly moved on to less political things like Blonde on Blonde. I suppose he is associated with the golden days of hope prior to 1963 , civil rights marches etc in some people’s memories.

ralph bell
ralph bell
3 years ago

Love the artist for their art not their character.
Trying to connect the two is what has influenced cancell culture.
I still think he’s a legend and love his music.

Last edited 3 years ago by ralph bell
John Riordan
John Riordan
3 years ago

I’ve been listening to Dylan for nigh on 35 years at this point, having started in my teens and not stopped since. I do maintain as a personal opinion that he is the best songwriter in history, though I realise of course that there will be lots of people that will disagree.

However I’ve never wanted to meet him, or imagine what it would be like to do so. And I’m not what you’d call a “fan” exactly, not in the modern sense of the word that seems to include the notion that celebrities are somehow accessible and relatable to the people whose fandom supports them. (Although that’s more of a general thing – I happen to think that’s nonsense for all celebs, and fans who believe otherwise are just deluding themselves).

Bob Dylan however does not play that game as the article succinctly points out, and I personally like that about him. It doesn’t mean I’d forgive him behaving like an arsehole to people, but it does mean that I respect his avoidance of the insincerity that underpins fan-culture everywhere else.

I must admit that this view of mine was partly fuelled by how I came to see many other Dylan fans when I made the mistake of joining the Dylanology group on Facebook. I have never seen such a load of asinine tripe and vacuous bollocks in my life, and I concluded that if this is what Bob Dylan had to put up with from his fans then you could hardly blame him becoming a die-hard fame-sceptic of the kind described above. But it is of course a mistake to judge people in general for how they behave on social media, so the truth almost certainly lies in the middle ground somewhere. Buried deeply, I should imagine.

Last edited 3 years ago by John Riordan
Simon Neale
Simon Neale
3 years ago

The choice of Dylan as a great or even significant poet was the least baked of all.

Cycle Calves
Cycle Calves
3 years ago

I am an antisocial obnoxious j**k, with little concern for the feelings of others … which is my right. I have no special talents. Bob Dylan’s *having talent* does not forfeit him the same right.

Last edited 3 years ago by Cycle Calves
Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

By a strange coincidence I put Modern Times into the CD player this morning before reading UnHerd, having picked up a second hand copy the other day for one pound. It is very enjoyable.

Jonathan Oldbuck
Jonathan Oldbuck
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Yes it’s sensational. I’ve been telling everyone that for fifteen years.
It’s got a timeless rock ‘n’ roll quality. Is it music from the past, present or the future? I can’t tell.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

You’re right, it is sensationally good, and not merely ‘enjoyable’ as I describe it above. Nothing less than an immortal contribution to the Great American Songbook that blends all manner of genres from the last 100 years.

Jeremy Poynton
Jeremy Poynton
3 years ago

“He may be a musical genius, but he’s also an obnoxious jerk”
And that’s unusual for such as Bob?

Really? Bob will be remembered down the ages?

Remind me. Who are you?

Nobody gives a t**d about Dylan the person. Like his “Italian poet from the 13th century”, Bob’s words will burn like coal down the ages.
Then she opened up a book of poems
And handed it to me
Written by an Italian poet
From the thirteenth century
And every one of them words rang true
And glowed like burnin’ coal
Pourin’ off of every page
Like it was written in my soul From me to you

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
3 years ago

A theme for UnHerd contributors:

Come mothers and fathers throughout the land

And don’t criticise what you can’t understand.

Your sons and your daughters are beyond your command

The old world is rapidly agein’.

So get out of the new world if you can’t lend a hand

For the times they are a’changein’.

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
3 years ago

I’ve never cared if any artist liked me or not and I’d rather go see Dylan reinterpret/mangle his songs than sit through another legend doing the same old hits “just like the record” padded out with crowd banter.
Yeah, thanks mate, but I’ve already got the record and I didn’t come to hear you talk.

James Chater
James Chater
3 years ago

And?
Assuming in his core the guy is ‘cool’ – in the deepest, full informal sense – unequivocally not racist, doesn’t evade his taxes etc. – of course I don’t care if he’s charmless.
Never appreciated him as a youth but for me now, along with Zappa – another one I didn’t appreciate when it mattered – he represents one of the best aspects of the US culture. Unorthodoxy, invention, precision & a willingness to entertain.

Last edited 3 years ago by James Chater
CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
3 years ago

Today, the 24th May was formally celebrated as Empire Day.

80 years, at 6am, the pride of the Royal Navy, and arguably the most beautiful warship ever constructed in the modern era, the Battlecruiser H.M.S. Hood, was sunk in the Denmark Straight* after a three minute engagement with the German Battleship Bismarck.
Of the Hood’s compliment of 1,418 only 3 survived.

Thus fascinating though the character defects or otherwise of Bob Dylan Esq maybe, I for one am thinking of others things. I trust I am not alone?

(* Between Greenland & Iceland.)

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
3 years ago

Yes agreed, a vulnerable design from inception that was never rectified during her twenty years of service.

Well as to beauty, as always subjective, I am almost with you. Both ships looked magnificent, one representing 1920 the other 1940.
Incidentally the smaller Scharnhorst class, together with US Iowa’s also merit consideration don’t you think?

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
3 years ago

Thus today’s perfect Sword of Damocles is the USN’s Ohio class submarine and its Trident D-2 missile system.

Each missile has a range of over 7000 nautical miles, or put another way, if launched from say
Bognor Regis, you could ‘hit’ Shanghai with ease.

Each of 14 boats carries 24 missiles, more than enough for the 102 Chinese target cities with a population of over 1 million.

I am surprised Bob Dylan hasn’t written about it.

Starry Gordon
Starry Gordon
3 years ago

I think nuclear weapons are overrated. Japan was an ideal target because it was small, dense, and urban, and relied on an empire to supply it with resources. The weapons of the future seem to be drones, rockets, IEDs, widely spread out, preferably in difficult terrain. Note that more bombs were dropped on Vietnam than were used in World War 2 (or so I have heard). They did not give victory to the bomb-droppers.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
3 years ago
Reply to  Starry Gordon

If they had nuked Peking & Hanoi things would have ended differently.

Incidentally it only took two nukes to destroy Japan, all that Samurai spirit, Bushido etc, gone in a flash. 60 other cities had been incinerated over months, to little effect, but the “bucket of instant sunshine” did the trick.

In the event, to ‘restore face’ as Orientals are apt say, the whole country should have been nuked to oblivion. An opportunity lost by a very juvenile Imperial Power, to our current cost.

‘We’ shall have to repeat the exercise sooner or later.

andrew harman
andrew harman
3 years ago

I have always seen the genius of Dylan. I have a number of his albums, several on vinyl and have seen him live 3 times (albeit with diminishing returns). I get him. Some of his songs are outstandingly, brilliantly good. Yet I have never LOVED him in the way some do. There are a number from the singer-songwriter genre I will always prefer: Paul Simon, Tom Waits, Neil Young (another curmudgeon) and Steve Earle. (Paul Simon from all accounts is always gracious with fans).
I see that Dylan’s influence is unsurpassed in his field but I think personal taste is also a factor and it is hard to be entirely objective.

mike otter
mike otter
3 years ago

Dylan comes from an era when you had to make it on your own and then get a record deal, so is not a packaged corporate product like most of today’s performers. Plus music journalists seem to have all the worst features of news journalists and then some, so overall i can see why he is cranky with them. Not as bad as Lou Reed who was really bad with hacks- though that maybe because he’d used up all his serotonin and dopamine. I do rate a lot of Dylan’s songs though his voice is woeful, but think he remains over-rated compared to Messrs Cohen, Mitchell, Simon etc. As i recall he is not cranky with other artists and was happy to endorse covers of his work, and he acknowldged Hendrix’ version of “…Watchtower” was way better than his own.

Neil Pennington
Neil Pennington
3 years ago

Happy Birthday Bob:)

9jrbc2zcfj
9jrbc2zcfj
3 years ago

In my early teens in the early sixties I was mesmerized by Bob Dylan. My first experience with live performances by him were at the 1963 Newport Folk Festival. He was clever, serious, and extremely funny all at the same time. Even my mother (who drove due to my being too young), a proper British lady, thought he was great. Over the years I attended many performances. I was there in 1965 for the booing. I was at the Boston Symphony Hall performance when it was still just him with his guitar and harmonica and I was there in Providence for one of his half & half concerts. Over the years I noticed how he lost his sense of humor and became tense. There were reports of his family being hounded and his garbage being analyzed. I had never heard of such a thing and couldn’t imagine anything more horrifying. And here was this amazing talent but everyone wanted to put him in a box. They wanted to cripple him and prevent his personal growth. They decided when he was what they wanted him to be and tried to keep him there. Interviews were held by people who didn’t have an intelligent question among them. It comes with the territory? Not to the degree I witnessed. In my opinion we’re lucky he didn’t disappear completely. I absolutely could not have gracefully handled what was dished out to him. As far as awards and prizes go it’s nice and all that but you’re asking a guy who’s in his seriously senior years to go play the game one more time. To pretend to be someone he’s not comfortable with and be happy to do it for you. In my opinion every time you see him or hear of him doing something considered unkind maybe you should take a closer look. He didn’t treat Johnny Cash that way or the guys in The Band or Tom Petty. Did you ever ask yourself why that is? Nope! Didn’t think so! Happy Birthday, Bob Dylan, and many more…

Martin Tuite
Martin Tuite
2 years ago
Reply to  9jrbc2zcfj

He once said “everybody wants a piece of me”. Must have been incredubly stressful. No wonder he said in a 2015 interview: “If I had to do it all over again, I’d be a schoolteacher — probably teach Roman history or theology.”

Anthony Wells
Anthony Wells
3 years ago

Mr D doesn’t seem to have any illusions about his “niceness” himself. Asked not so long ago what he asked for when he prayed, he replied: “I pray to be a kinder person”.

Last edited 3 years ago by Anthony Wells
Martin Smith
Martin Smith
3 years ago

As a grumpy old git myself I have sympathy for Bob. Who knows whether he’s a ‘genius’ or not? That’s for critics to argue about. And it doesn’t matter. I liked him the first time I heard ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’ playing on my neighbour’s transistor radio back in the early sixties. I was ten then and I still like him now.

Last edited 3 years ago by Martin Smith
Jerry Jay Carroll
Jerry Jay Carroll
3 years ago

Then there was the Nobel sex ring business.

elaine chambers
elaine chambers
3 years ago

I connected with Bob Dylan’s SONGS, they embraced my teenage rage and spat it out like it was for me. Beyond that it just IS. No intellectualising, analysing has any relevance. It’s not him I was looking for.

Karen Jemmett
Karen Jemmett
3 years ago

What a pointless article? At 80, the guy’s done enough arse-licking, surely? Is there really a need for this kind of deconstructive exercise? Leave the grumpy old man be, will you..

Charles Rense
Charles Rense
3 years ago
Reply to  Karen Jemmett

I think the problem is he hasn’t done nearly enough arse licking. In fact, the man has clearly underperformed as an arse licker throughout his career. He doesn’t seem to even care that all those arses remain dry and chapped for want of a good licking.

For shame, Bob. For shame.

Last edited 3 years ago by Charles Rense
micah christian
micah christian
3 years ago

Article safely fits under “Idiot Wind”.

Stephen Rose
Stephen Rose
3 years ago

Your perceptive observations about Dylan, reveal an attitude indicative of a certain liberal “Carla Bruni” middle class.
Hauteur acts like “cat nip” for them. If you can keep the goodies, wealth, prestige etc, yet avoid being accommodating and a sell – out,you reach nirvana.
No, please, thank you or pardon.
With art, they like to have their trousers taken down and smacked on the bottom.
It only works if the artist is authentic and original, so best keep a low private profile and employ restraining orders.
It’s like a human safari, they want to see those dangerous beasts up close, but not too close, if a tiger is in a circus, it disgusts them.

M Spahn
M Spahn
3 years ago

No argument about him being a personally unpleasant, but with regard to the live shows – he has toured nonstop right up to age 80. He certainly doesn’t need the money. If he has to riff on his standards like a jazzman to keep things interesting, more power to him.
Also, I can’t believe I was forced to subsitute “personally unpleasant” for the “j word” to get out of automod purgatory. That word was clean enough for network television in the 50s but can’t be repeated here? Is there some sort of British connotation lost on me?

John Lamble
John Lamble
3 years ago

Apparently he’s very nice and kind to his children. Good man. All the rest is dross.

Scott Austin
Scott Austin
3 years ago

I liked your article, but it more cemented for me why I love Dylan so much. I wouldn’t mind being on the end of some of Dylan’s razor sharp wit, that quip to Peter Grant actually made me laugh out loud. He is unusual, but it’s a funny unusual, give me that over Axel Rose any day.

Sam Urton
Sam Urton
3 years ago

Never understood the Bob Dylan “genius” thing, at all. Don’t like his voice, the music isn’t great (and annoyingly repetitive) – I guess it’s all in the lyrics? Maybe you had to be there in the 60’s? (I was – but only briefly from ’67 on). I also found it interesting that he changed his name to appear more “authentic”. Not my cup of tea, but also just my own (Gen X) opinion.

Charles Rense
Charles Rense
3 years ago

I’m okay with jerks. What I can’t stand are people who think they are nice and endlessly preach kindness while behaving as jerks. Also jerks who constantly complain about people being jerks to them.

We’re all jerks sometimes, and sometimes some people should be jerks. You are not entitled to be liked to be liked by anyone, least of all everyone..If you think that youre the worst kind of jerk.

Charles Rense
Charles Rense
3 years ago

I can’t say “j***” without finding myself in awaiting-approval limbo? The author said “j***”. Archie comics from the 50s can say “j***”.

I didn’t even couple it with “o**”.

jules Ritchie
jules Ritchie
3 years ago

Quite happy to know he gave the finger to the Nobel people but lets not pretend he was making some sort of statement- he took the cash didn’t he?

Jon Walmsley
Jon Walmsley
3 years ago

Beethoven was the same way in certain respects, but he was still a musical genius. It’s the music that matters, not the man – one will long outlive the other after all.
That being said, Bob Dylan wouldn’t be the songwriter he is without his acerbic personality, so why complain about it? A lack of imagination probably. Why is being ‘personable’ such an important quality to have anyways, particularly in an artist whose whole modus operandi it seems to me was to exist outside the usual social boundaries and norms, however obnoxious he might be? As ever, boxing in an artist is about the worst thing you can do as a non-artist!
This has little to do with ‘ethical purity’ though, whatever the hell that means; Dylan is just playing the role he always has – a flawed human being, one who wears his flaws on his sleeve, yet conversely masks them with his renegade persona. He pours too much of his self into his art for it to be otherwise, and it’s that connection with the very messy human voice of his lyrics that makes his music so enduring. He plays his role well, and maybe when he was younger, riding high on his initial successes, at the height of his arrogance, he confused the mask with himself, but he grew in turn – many artists don’t.
It’s funny too; you call being ‘unknowable’ an inhuman quality, but I’d argue the very opposite! We don’t truly know ourselves after all, so what makes us think we have the right to know anybody else? It’s the very exploration of this ‘unknowable self’ that’s always reaching for some kind of ‘truth’, and the contradictions therein, which Dylan has really always been about, when you dig a little deeper into his music anyway.
“When somebody’s wearing a mask, he’s gonna tell you the truth. When he’s not wearing a mask, it’s highly unlikely” – Bob Dylan.

snaproot
snaproot
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Walmsley

great points, especially the ludwig comparison. the two of them had a “shake one’s fists at the gods/system” that ran deep. it was not simply feigned through their art; rather, it was horse that led the cart. not many musicians have shifted the tectonic plates of their era, it takes a mighty head of steam to do so. add to that: the protest streak they both had (the eroica may be the first literal example of such, booting napoleon from the dedication). thus, their disagreeable demeanor seem perfectly aligned with their utterly authentic output.

Alan Girling
Alan Girling
3 years ago

“a star on this scale who gives so little” Well then, who gave me all those songs I’ve enjoyed for so many years?

David Platzer
David Platzer
3 years ago

Not a patch on Cole Porter who died round the time Dylan was becoming famous.

Starry Gordon
Starry Gordon
3 years ago
Reply to  David Platzer

Cole Porter was working a different street.

houstonjolene
houstonjolene
3 years ago

Your article is a work of an inferior and uneducated journalist. How you became a writer is beyond me. You should have worked for the former President… the guy with the birds nest surgically attached to his scalp. Your grade is an F and my only comment left is you are in the wrong field after reading this absolute piece of garbage you have come up with. You know what they call a quarter pounder in Amsterdam? Did you write this article with good intentions? Are you Brett from the breakfast scene in pulp fiction?

Last edited 3 years ago by houstonjolene
Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
3 years ago
Reply to  houstonjolene

Leave Brett alone! He’s my favourite character after Butch’s dad!

ashtreeimages
ashtreeimages
3 years ago

Well, how he’s portrayed here, he sounds like he could be somewhere on the ‘spectrum’.
I’m not a fan of fandom really. Don’t confuse the quality of product with the quality of its creator. Yes, he did some nice songs.

Starry Gordon
Starry Gordon
3 years ago

The whole idea was half- or less than half-baked.

Pete Kreff
Pete Kreff
3 years ago

Dylan’s not alone in being like that. Lou Reed and Van Morrison are famous for being highly unpleasant with “little people” when they feel like it, which seems to be all the time.

Charles Rense
Charles Rense
3 years ago
Reply to  Pete Kreff

I think sometimes that impression comes as a result of being rude to music journalists, who like to think they are of the little people, and speak for the little people, but who the artists see as just more industry hacks standing between them and the fans. So the artist is rude to the journalist, who writes it up as “the artist is being rude to you through me!”

Kevin Thomas
Kevin Thomas
3 years ago

I can only imagine what it must be like having to play the same songs for over 50 years. That’s the curse of being a very successful rock musician. You inevitably do your best stuff in your 20s and then you are doomed to play it and play it and play it till you are old and grey, the fans politely sitting through your recent compositions and then going mad for something you wrote before man had landed on the moon.

Simon Neale
Simon Neale
3 years ago

As Dylan turns 80 today, other writers will tell you how he single-handedly redrew the parameters of song-writing by giving rock’n’roll the lyrical ambition of poetry, etcetera, and they will be right

Sure, he gave rock’n’roll the ambition, in that musicians became ambitious to write poetry. But few if any ever succeeded. Dylan certainly didn’t write anything approaching good poetry. He was perhaps the first to realise that if you gave the public something that was sufficiently vague and allusive, then people would read their own deeply personal meanings into the lyrics. Especially when they had taken drugs beforehand, and had been primed to see the songs as an important cultural expression, and were young and impressionable. That was an important difference over what had gone before. Everybody knew what popular songs by Sinatra or the old rock and rollers were about, and they could tell you. Everyone knows what Dylan’s songs are about, but if you ask them, they all give a different answer. The same holds with lots of other musicians and bands who were artistically pretentious. Bowie’s preposterous output seems to be the apotheosis of this. So yes, culturally important, he changed things, but anyone and anything can do that.
The Swedish Academy have no grounds for complaint in the way that they were treated. They actually started the joke by awarding Dylan the Nobel Prize for Literature. You don’t invite a clown to your august meeting and then complain that he is not behaving with sufficient decorum.

Last edited 3 years ago by Simon Neale
Jake Jackson
Jake Jackson
3 years ago
Reply to  Simon Neale

For all of Dylan’s faults, I don’t think pretense was one of them. I think some of his detractors impute that, but in reality I don’t think it was true at all — unless you consider any rebel pretentious for saying what others don’t. In fact, Dylan himself rather angrily rebelled against the “voice of his generation” hype paraded by the media of the era.

At one point, Joan Baez wanted to team up as the King and Queen of social message music. Dylan effectively gave her the middle-finger salute, and then he went electric, perhaps to twist the knife. He always had a great deal of trouble with all the iconography, and made it clear on many occasions.

As for poetry, that one’s harder partly because I’m not very well educated in poetry. Someone with deeper knowledge of the genre could be more intelligent about that than I am. Were his songs what they call “blank verse?” I really don’t know. My ignorance is vast, but at least I admit it.

I know something else, though. Prior to Edison’s invention of the phonograph, poetry was hugely popular in America, from top to bottom. In the 1800s, ordinary people wrote it themselves. Look at the diaries of the pioneers who came West on the California and Oregon trails, and you’ll find scads and scads of amateur poetry, some of it quite good, at least what I’ve read over the decades. There were uncounted thousands and thousands of pioneer poets, most of them women.

That all went away in the 20th century with the rise of recorded music, radio, the movies, and later TV. Whether or not Dylan’s or anyone else’s lyrics are “poetry,” there’s no denying that popular song lyrics replaced poetry outside of academia.

Last edited 3 years ago by Jake Jackson
slfife99
slfife99
3 years ago

A lot of truth here. Appreciate the narrative. The fact is, Bob Dylan is an artist who also became a major entertainer. That’s not an easy tightrope to maneuver. But look at the video he made for Things Have Changed, the song he did for the film Wonder Boys. He does his best to change his persona for the video, slick enough to share the screen with Toby McGuire and Michael Douglas. It is a revelation of sorts, of the degree to which Bob Dylan is an illusion. A chameleon. An actor. Completely divorced from Bob Zimmerman. It’s the secret of his success, how he’s managed to make us believe in the role that he’s playing. But it’s only a role. He puts on ideas and concepts, tries them on for size, then discards them when he gets bored. And he is easily bored. Something that makes him consummately American.

Last edited 3 years ago by slfife99
Robert Lund
Robert Lund
3 years ago

I was a “fan” at the beginning in the early 60s during his “protest/folk” era. But havnt bothered with him much since. I saw him live once, at the NEC, in the early 80s. He was rubbish.
There has been so much pretentious crap written about him it’s no wonder he treats the world with contempt. In one famous interview he stated he was just a “song and dance man” and the assembled bunch of clowns guffawed. Bob just looks at them and smiles and one can imagine what he is thinking.
In my view he sees himself as just an ordinary bloke who actually wanted to be like Elivis but just wasn’t cut out to be, so went with what he had.
This author says “he gives so little”.
But he has given us his body of work. Why should he give his soul as well?

Kremlington Swan
Kremlington Swan
3 years ago

Never understood the fuss. The only thing that makes his songs ok is when someone else sings them.
I bought Blond on Blond because, you know, you just should, and I played some of it once. Because it is sh*t.
On the other hand, I listen to Joan Baez all the time, because she is a wonderful artist.
I’d also trade all of Dylan’s songs for one by Leonard Cohen.

And I’ve got taste. I can prove it, too. Well, I can’t, because nobody can, but I am someone who actually chooses to listen to Wagner when he could listen to Verdi, so that must prove something.

Last edited 3 years ago by Kremlington Swan
Martin Tuite
Martin Tuite
2 years ago

I have to disagree with you on that. You’ve obviously not listened to the “Highway 62 revisited” or “Bringing it all back home” albums. I listen to the Stones, Bowie, Bonnie and Delaney, Cream, Leonard Cohen, Elvis, Ry Cooder, Velvet Underground, Vivaldi, Bach, Beethoven, Glenn Miller, Miles Davie, Yusef Latief, Moby, Staple Singers, Canned Heat, Bo diddley, Chuck Berry, John Lee Hooker, The Hot Sardines, Santana, Little Walter, Joey Feek, Robert Johnson, Arthur Crudup, Dire Straits, Moby, Van Morrison, Jimmy Hendrix, The faces, The Darts, Blondie,etc, etc. BUT those two Dylan albums are the ones are my favourites. Pow! It’s like an explosion of pure joy going off in my brain when I put them on.

kizannmi
kizannmi
3 years ago

A whole article on Dylan being unlikable, what a waste of ink. Many highly productive people are super focused and super driven. Best example is Trump. 75 million people voted for him and he is just an awful person.

dfalessio
dfalessio
2 years ago

How self deluded we all may be if for a moment we think we just may have the right to critique anyone. I have been listening to Dylan by choice for decades. Graced his Concert w/the Band in 1973 and I am no expert in music philosophy or people. I do know of all the music I listened to and follow I always come “home” to Dylan. It’s been that way all of my life. Please do not label me a die hard fan. I am saying in times of various events I revisit Dylan. Simple as that it’s my tune up I love how a few of his peers like another love, Eric Clapton has an onstage chemistry with Dylan it is breathtaking heartwarming to watch them talk smile and see Dylan loosen up Eric’s got that magic bond with Dylan, I look a Dylan and anyone I think wow who knows the deeper side the real heavy events yet unspoken, his motorcycle accident his life’s events how the media way back then and now twist and put words in your mouth how they are treacherous with your life’s loves, failings and misgivings perhaps how they may have even tore into relationships they had no business in, look around listen how media has acted in malice in hardships. There are many people who survive many a storm, who live to tell it, lyric it write down and sell it. We own it in our own way. We we are privileged to know the message the author had them we owe a pledge of thanks and empathy. This world now and then has torn stars, Celebrities and musicians apart and yet let the world get Rocked to its knees the musicians stand and bring it together. Dylan has many musicians he credits who are best and better than he. “Don’t look back” by the way is a tune his mentor and that mentor mentored the best of our musicians today Dylan for one, Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Robbie Robertson, Van Morrison, and more his name: JOHN LEE HOOKER MEN like Dylan those I named Johnny Cash, Kris Kristophersen, Eric Clapton they pull each other up they embrace and glue each other back together no greater love than that. As for Dylan being Dylan it don’t bother me, I’m frankly bored and tired of people trying to cast others into a mold You like someone or not. You love the work they do or not but to criticize what we don’t know to make claims we don’t know is pure conjecture. Like I said I can always go home Dylan just does that for me I don’t need to get in his head his heart like mine is full breaks and for sure has bern broken too. At 80 I say thank you and keep being you Bob Dylan aka Elston Gunn. For those of you have never heard Pretty Saro please give it a listen.. my best to you all. ❤

Ethan
Ethan
2 years ago

I’ve seen Dylan 30 times since 99 and have never left wanting what the writer thinks he owes us.
If I want to hear the song the way it was on record, I’ll play the record. Neil Young also does what he wants on stage and those shows are also amazing. Some bands feel obliged to play the same songs every night for the people there for the first time. Same songs, same arrangements, for 50 years. Fleetwood Mac have gone on record about this conundrum when building setlists. Patti Smith too. Pearl Jam? They don’t care. They’ll play anything they want. Miss a song you wanted. Come to another show. Same with Radiohead and lots of other bands. It’s called repeat business. It’s like in the restaurants. You have regulars and one-timers. You won’t have regulars if you’re always pandering to the one-timers. I was at a Radiohead show and this couple behind complained to me that U2 didn’t play Joshua tree songs….the tour after they played the album in it’s entirety every night….after playing those hit songs at every show for 30 years. You had 30 years to hear them. Tough shit. And of course they wanted to hear only one song, Creep, a song the band rarely plays, especially in the states.

Dylan doesn’t care why you showed up. He’s gonna do things his way. And it’s a lot better and more interesting than your way. Paul McCartney is great live but he’s also reading off a script basically. Same stories and jokes night after night. Dylan went through a phase 15 years ago where he would tell jokes, really corny ones, perhaps to make phone of the jokes others tell. He also had a radio show for a 100+ episodes. Why does he have to talk too? Isn’t the music enough? Watch the video of him annoyed with all the photos. He almost falls trying to get his show back on track. Ppl have no respect at shows. And he shows up for honors he wants to show up for…presidential medal from Obama, for example.

Mike Boosh
Mike Boosh
3 years ago

Never liked him, terrible voice.

ptphiliptaylor
ptphiliptaylor
3 years ago

He wrote some good songs, better performed by other people!..I remember his electric tour in the 90s, the musicians he engaged for the tour projected an unhappy body language, but they were being paid!

kathleen carr
kathleen carr
3 years ago
Reply to  ptphiliptaylor

I prefered the Brian Ferry version of Hard Rain to his. Some of those early ones circa Times They are a Changing seem to go on for ever-glad he then went in for the ‘popier’ numbers. ( except for the last side of Blonde on Blonde which is to be avoided)

kathleen carr
kathleen carr
3 years ago
Reply to  kathleen carr

Sorry did I break the unwritten law? I suppose Dylan also started the association of singer with song-previously someone like Elvis sang someone else’s songs. People then say a certain song is about something-this is the song he wrote when he broke up with his wife & people talk & write as though they know the person wheras they might just have had a nice tune that they never found the right words to until then . Dylan appeared on Blaze -he must have been playing Las Vegas & Chumley asks him to sign one of his albums-the joke being it was now worthless- Dylan seemed quite humorous then

John Mcalester
John Mcalester
3 years ago

Undoubtedly a talented song writer but as a performer very underwhelming in my opinion. Virtually every song he ever wrote was covered much better by other artists.

Jake Jackson
Jake Jackson
3 years ago
Reply to  John Mcalester

Please inform us of the covers of Like A Rolling Stone, Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands, I’ll Keep It With Mine, Please Mrs. Henry, When Dogs Run Free, Too Much of Nothing, Yea! Heavy and a Bottle of Bread, My Back Pages, Tiny Montgomery, Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright, It’s All Over Now Baby Blue, Desolation Row, Shelter From The Storm, If Not For You, New Morning, Father of Night, One Too Many Mornings, Visions of Johanna, Just Like A Woman, Open the Door Homer, Tangled Up in Blue, Winterlude, It Takes A Lot to Laugh It Takes A Train to Cry, and Millionaire Bash.

To name a few. Oh, but wait! You don’t know what you’re talking about, but will lecture on the internet, the last refuge of every lazy, ignorant moron. I don’t care if you dislike him. I really don’t, any appearances to the contrary notwithstanding. But there really is no reason to be completely stupid about it. You know nothing, and someone needs to say so. I just volunteered, thick one.

There’s a certain way
We all must live
If we expect to live off the fat of the land

Last edited 3 years ago by Jake Jackson
andrew harman
andrew harman
3 years ago
Reply to  Jake Jackson

Arrogant, ignorant ad hominem argument. I disagree with him but keep it civil.

Jake Jackson
Jake Jackson
3 years ago
Reply to  andrew harman

I’m an American, and at our best we call things by their real names and let the chips fall where they may.

jim payne
jim payne
3 years ago

Not that he is as longtoothed as Dylan, but that nasty piece of crap that is the Oasis kid is probably on the same wavelength as him.

Mud Hopper
Mud Hopper
3 years ago

Seen him twice: the first time in the late sixties was a memorable night, when his music was contextual and ‘of the time’ and again a few years ago at The Albert Hall where he presented like a shambling, incoherent escapee from a care home. Amusingly the press reviews the following day reported the concert as his ‘greatest since his ‘going acoustic’ event’. I thought the Emperor had definitely lost his clothes and nobody dare point it out.

elaine chambers
elaine chambers
3 years ago
Reply to  Mud Hopper

I was there and it was great

Mud Hopper
Mud Hopper
3 years ago

So was I. The most amusing thing were the French couple sitting next to us who were totally bemused by him, to the point where they were constantly looking up the lyrics on their phones so indistinct were they.

Andrew Baldwin
Andrew Baldwin
3 years ago

Unlike Dorian, I am a great fan of Dylan’s music, but agree that he is a jerk. I gave up watching his interviews long ago. Some interviewers can be irritating but he would give the most dismissive sarcastic replies to completely sensible questions. If he just isn’t to interviews, he doesn’t have to give them, so it seems he just likes being a jerk. I only saw him perform live once, in 1966 at the old Coliseum in Ottawa. (I was 15 at th time.) The acoustics were terrible, and he said afterwards that Ottawa was the worst hell hole on earth, which was a tad exaggerated. But the songs Dylan created are magical. What an artist!

Martin Tuite
Martin Tuite
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Baldwin

Read this interview, totally different to the ones where he’s putting journalists down.”A Man of Strong Opinions”. Bob Dylan shares his thoughts on great artists and icons, by Robert Love, AARP The Magazine, February/March 2015