September 3, 2005

"I have found it personally inspiring in my war on political correctness in academe. "

Says Camille Paglia about Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone." But she doesn't think it deserved to be #1 on that list of greatest songs put out by Rolling Stone. That should have been something by the Rolling Stones. The flaw of "Like a Rolling Stone" is "compulsive sneering - an adolescent tic," per Paglia. But, wait, isn't adolescent sneering the point of rock and roll? It's hard to do adolescent sneering well. And once you've done it well, if you try to get past it, John Pareles might pillory you in the New York Times.

1 comment:

Tom Strong said...

The flaw of "Like a Rolling Stone" is "compulsive sneering - an adolescent tic," per Paglia.

I like Paglia, but I don't understand that comment. It's fairly clear that "Like a Rolling Stone" is if anything, anti-sneering.

You used to laugh about
Everyone that was hanging out
But now you don't talk so loud
And you don't seem so proud
About having to be scrounging your next meal

Moreover, there's a strong Christian subtext to the song. Dylan was clearly beginning to take Christianity very seriously by the time he wrote it. "Napoleon in rags," anyone? Of course, a Christian subtext is hardly insulation from charges of arrogance - but it does press the whole point about not thinking too highly of oneself.

The song is an indictment of pride and arrogance. It may be a little arrogant in the way it goes about that - but then, what else would you expect? Dylan did have kind of a sneery voice.