September 14, 2012

Rolling Stone interviewer can't stop asking Bob Dylan to endorse Obama.

As summarized in Reason:
[D]idn't Obama change [the way with think about race]? And isn't it so that people who don't like him don't like him because of race? [Mikal] Gilmore takes five different swings at getting Dylan to agree. Some of Dylan's responses: "They did the same thing to Bush, didn't they? They did the same thing to Clinton, too, and Jimmy Carter before that....Eisenhower was accused of being un-American. And wasn't Nixon a socialist? Look what he did in China. They'll say bad things about the next guy too." On Gilmore's fourth attempt, Dylan just resorts to: "Do you want me to repeat what I just said, word for word? What are you talking about? People loved the guy when he was elected. So what are we talking about? People changing their minds?"...

[W]hat does Dylan think of Obama? Dylan first deflects with: "You should be asking his wife what she thinks of him."... Then: "He loves music. He's personable. He dresses good. What the fuck do you want me to say?"



... Gilmore follows that up with: "Would you like to see him re-elected?" Bob: I've lived through a lot of presidents. You have too! Some are re-elected and some aren't. Being re-elected isn't the mark of a great president."

... Dylan, on the night of Obama's inauguration, was performing and said from stage: "It looks like things are gonna change now." Remember that, Bob?...

... "Did I go down to the middle of town and give a speech?....I don't know what I could have meant by that. You say things sometimes, you don't know what the hell you mean.... I'm not going to deny what I said, but I would have hoped that things would've changed."
That comes pretty close to saying he's disappointed. And he's already said — in so many words — these politicians are all alike. But he catches himself and adds:
"I certainly hope they have."
Now, he's speaking in the present test and not the convoluted conditional of I would have hoped that things would've changed. But it's the present-tense of his own mind, a retreat from the political sphere. Gilmore finally gets a clue, which he expresses, sounding like someone who's spent a lot of time in the realm of cluelessness:
"I get the impression...that you're reluctant to say much about the president or how he's been criticized."

92 comments:

Carol said...

Haha, they still don't get it. He's his own man, never was that much of a knee-jerk leftist. Even his protest song phase was quite short, boomers' memories to the contrary. He quickly got bored with the drill and went on to other things.

Geoff Matthews said...

Sounds like Mr Dylan would like to shut up and sing.
Good on him.

campy said...

But Obama is AWESOME!! Who wants to write about Dylan?

Matthew Sablan said...

It takes a lot of... something, to keep hammering away at a point your interviewee doesn't want to talk about.

Shouting Thomas said...

You haven't had much to say on Dylan's [purported] remarks about the eternal Original Sin of slavery.

I don't read interviews, so maybe you can explain.

I've assumed that Dylan's remarks were a more perplexing than reported.

Rolling Stone's attacks on Romney, and Republicans in general, have been hysterical. Matt Taibbi's articles, in particular, seem to be the ravings of a cokehead having a fit.

The Crack Emcee said...

I like ol' Bob. Out of all the hippie "leaders," I'll take ol' Bob over all of them. Whether the subject is politics, or even his tribe, he refuses to be partisan - a lesson many can learn in this time of politics, where only the other guy is bad for America.

Yeah, I like ol' Bob.

He's cagey - like America itself,...

Beta Rube said...

Was the premise of the questioning that all famous entertainers must compliment "Dear Leader." It's creepy.

David said...

Asshole media.

AprilApple said...

Bob. Please worship him like we do. Please!

DADvocate said...

Seems if you interviewed Bob Dylan, you'd talk about Bob Dylan, his life and his music, not focus on using him to get Obama re-elected.

Paul Zrimsek said...

[D]idn't Obama change [the way with think about race]? And isn't it so that people who don't like him don't like him because of race?

A sufficiently credulous person might believe either of these, but it's kind of tough to believe them both, innit?

kcom said...

"Didn't Obama change [the way we think about race]?"

This is a seriously inane, overly broad question.

Question to Mikal: What did "we" think before? What do "we" think now? As if it could be reduced to something that simple. And, then, as a follow-up, what did Obama do that accounts for that difference? Name anything specific.

"And isn't it so that people who don't like him don't like him because of race?"

Another question for Mikal: If I insert Clarence Thomas' name in the above question, what would your answer be?

And isn't it so that people who don't like Clarence Thomas don't like him becuase of his race?

Tom Spaulding said...

Ann, what Bob thinks/says is irrelevant.

Jay-Z, Beyonce and Sam Jackson are the tastemakers now.

It's time to put away your macrame purse, peasant blouses, Birkenstocks and Dark SIde of the Moon-engraved bong from Pipefitter.

Or as Paul Revere/Sam Jackson maybe will say in a possible ad: Wake the Fuck Up.

Tom Spaulding said...

WTFU:

Nigerian troops fire live rounds in city of Jos to disperse Muslims protesting against anti-Islam film - @Reuters

Bob Dylan unavailable for comment.

phx said...

People have always tried to co-opt Dylan. If you are pop/rock writer there's not better way to make yourself look stupid than to interview the Bobster.

His agenda is not yours.

shiloh said...

Dylan's just a simple song and dance man, so he's not all that concerned w/politics.

Because something is happening here
But you don't know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?

AprilApple said...

"He loves music. He's personable. He dresses good. What the fuck do you want me to say?"
He's catering to the pop-cult. The surface.

How about:
Obama gave all our money away to his cronies and donors. Obama promised to cut the debt in half and instead he added trillions. Obama promised Golden Gate Bridges and Hoover Dams, and we got nothing but the bill.

Dylan knows he cannot answer with honesty. He'll be black-listed by the not-so-tolerant and not-so- thoughtful leftwing pop-cultists.

shiloh said...

Far fuckin' out!

Can you dig it? I knew that you could ...

Tom Spaulding said...

DRUDGE:

MOB AT US EMBASSY IN LONDON BURNS AMERICAN FLAG...

Protesters smash windows, set fires at embassy in Tunisia...

GUNFIRE HEARD AT EMBASSY IN SUDAN...

Report: German embassy in Sudan on fire...

Clashes intensify near US embassy in Cairo...

Embassies on high alert as protests spread...

Crowd in Lebanon torches KFC...


What does Bob think?

SPImmortal said...

It's obvious that he's not to fond of Obama and he won't vote for him, but he's not going to say that.

RazorSharpSundries said...

I always thought Mikal's one claim to fame was that he was Gary's brother.

gadfly said...

Althouse wrote:

Now, he's speaking in the present test and not the convoluted conditional of I would have hoped that things would've changed.

Are you tense, Ann?

Tom Spaulding said...

NPR just reported that the "White House asked YouTube to pull down the film"

What does Bob think about government censorship?

What does a Law Prof think?

Lyle said...

America has a journalism problem.

Tank said...

I feel bad about that KFC.

Damn.

Patrick said...

The video clip that Shiloh linked ought to be required viewing for anyone who is about to interview Bob Dylan.

After that, I think you're pretty much left with "What are your thoughts about our little city?"

EMD said...

Bob Dylan built his business.

ndspinelli said...

Crack, As Michael Jordan said, "Republicans buy sneakers too."

garage mahal said...

Bob Dylan is boring. Can't sing, can't play, and can't even write his songs without ripping off some other folk writer. What's the appeal?

Lem said...

I can understand why Dylan might be reluctant to say anything that might be construed as blasphemy against the prophet Barack.

Amartel said...

The First Commandment: Thou shalt not worship any other gods before Obama.

phx said...

Bob Dylan is boring. Can't sing, can't play, and can't even write his songs without ripping off some other folk writer. What's the appeal?

So who do you think is exciting, can sing, can play? Just curious, I'm cool with it.

ricpic said...

Althouse fishing for Dylan's permission to abandon he who must be protected.

EDH said...

I was waiting for the interviewer to go all Strother Martin on Dylan, beat him, put him in "the box" and tell Bob he needed to "get his mind right".

You hang in there Bob!

Tank said...
I feel bad about that KFC. Damn.

Extra, extra crispy.

The Crack Emcee said...

I like how all the people demanding I say something nice about Romney can see the error of this journalist's ways but not their own.

Man, you guys are brain-dead and tunnel-visioned, to the extreme.

Fucking incredible,...

LordSomber said...

What an awful interview. Reminds me of watching Henry Rollins on TV interviewing some actor and repeatedly trying to interject some pet political bugaboo into the conversation. The actor (whom I forget) insisted on talking about acting.

Roman said...

Bob Dylan does not know what planet he is on. Way too many dead brain cells.

campy said...

bugaboo

Is that a racist dog-whistle word?

rehajm said...

garage mahal said...

Bob Dylan is boring. Can't sing, can't play, and can't even write his songs without ripping off some other folk writer. What's the appeal?


This will be Rolling Stone's next review of Dylan. If you're not going to pledge fealty, you have to pay the price...

phx said...

This will be Rolling Stone's next review of Dylan. If you're not going to pledge fealty, you have to pay the price...

Back in the day one Rolling Stone review of a Dylan album had the first line: "What is this shit?"
That was Greil Marcus.

Tom Spaulding said...

Man, you guys are brain-dead and tunnel-visioned, to the extreme.

Fucking incredible,...


Save us, Crack. You are our only hope.

damikesc said...

Dylan has common sense. Alienating a huge chunk of your audience has worked WONDERS for Hollywood's box office and modern music acts who can't sell shit to anybody.

Geoff Matthews said...

Crack,
No one is demanding you say something nice about Romeny. They object to your gross generalizations/distortions about mormons.

That is all.

Ken said...

I would have hoped that things would've changed.

Things have changed. The con that O committed was just a ridiculous phrase: hope and change. But hope for what? And change to what? As he's admitted, he simply acted as a blank canvas on which people can project.

phx said...

I used to care but things have changed.
- B Dylan

jeff said...

"I like how all the people demanding I say something nice about Romney can see the error of this journalist's ways but not their own.

Man, you guys are brain-dead and tunnel-visioned, to the extreme.

Fucking incredible,."

Interesting. I like the way you pretend people want you to say something nice about Romney rather than them pointing out to you that someone is going to be elected president in November and if it isnt Romney its going to be Obama. And for someone unable to get off the anti Mormon rant, "brain-dead and tunnel-visioned, to the extreme." seems to about right.

EMD said...

I used to care but things have changed.
- B Dylan


This is the guy who wanted to be Elvis, not Lenin.

The Crack Emcee said...

Geoff Matthews,

Crack,
No one is demanding you say something nice about Romeny. They object to your gross generalizations/distortions about mormons.

That is all.


Ahh, but "gross generalizations/distortions" about Scientologists - who are pretty much identical - get no outrage?

Like I said, brain-dead and tunnel-visioned,...

kcom said...

I don't know what bug crawled into your brain, Crack, but you certainly have grown exceedingly tiresome of late. You're reaching Mick level very quickly. Perhaps you're already there. Do you want to talk, or do you just want to rant?

Sigivald said...

Rolling Stone?

Bob Dylan?

It's 2012, man. Move on already.


(Shouting Thomas: True - but they're doing the "job", which is giving the Left something to be angry about.

I've seen Taibbi's articles "shared" as if they were some deep and impressive insight into the wickedness of the Republican Other.)

Beldar said...

There is literally no one whose opinion I care less about than Bob Dylan.

bagoh20 said...

I wish Rolling Stone had been more balanced when I was young too. I might not have wasted so much time in the realm of cluelessness myself. They aren't helping the new generation much either.

Libertarian/conservative ideology is so much cooler today than leftist statism and it's unyielding conformity. I don't get why kids aren't attracted to it more. It's the environment of free thought, rebellion, and human rights today.

People confuse right wing with religious far too much, many of the strongest voices on the right are non-religious.

creeley23 said...

Because something is happening here
But you don't know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?


So shiloh reminds us. Yes, the hipsters merrily assumed that Dylan was stroking their already glorified egos with another trite exercise of putting down the squares.

But Dylan was cleverer than that. A close reading of "Ballad of Thin Man" reveals a startling homosexual layer rife with phallic imagery in which the hipsters don't know what is happening and therefore become as dumb as the squares -- Dylan's joke that almost no one got.

The basic scene of "Thin Man" (using circus metaphors) is a straight guy walks into gay orgy, participates and freaks out.

You walk into the room
With your pencil in your hand
You see somebody naked
And you say, "Who is that man?"

You raise up your head
And you ask, "Is this where it is?"
And somebody points to you and says
"It's his"
And you say, "What's mine?"
And somebody else says, "Where what is?"
And you say, "Oh my God
Am I here all alone?"


You hand in your ticket
And you go watch the geek
Who immediately walks up to you
When he hears you speak
And says, "How does it feel
To be such a freak?"

And you say, "Impossible"
As he hands you a bone

Well, the sword swallower, he comes up to you
And then he kneels
He crosses himself
And then he clicks his high heels
And without further notice
He asks you how it feels
And he says, "Here is your throat back
Thanks for the loan"

Now you see this one-eyed midget
Shouting the word "NOW"
And you say, "For what reason?"
And he says, "How?"
And you say, "What does this mean?"
And he screams back, "You're a cow
Give me some milk
Or else go home"

tiger said...

Mikal Gilmore? The guy who got his gig at RS by writing about his brother Gary being executed for killing someone?

He's a hack and in awe of Dylan; he sounds like those losers back in the early-mid 60s asking Bob 'what does it all mean?'

What an ass; by now you would think he would know enough about Dylan to know that Bob is just a song and dance man, not a prophet or pundit.

Gilmore should be embarrassed for his fawning need to hear 'from on high' Bob's opinions on issues that don't matter to him.

bagoh20 said...

This would be like Rolling Stone in the sixties asking Benny Goodman who is the cooler candidate?

tiger said...

garage mahal said...
Bob Dylan is boring. Can't sing, can't play, and can't even write his songs without ripping off some other folk writer. What's the appeal?



Aaaaaaand the resident troll/moron/d'wad is heard from.

Howard said...

BagO

I am as flummoxed as you, Kids have always loved to be labeled conservative because fear of change and love of stasis is so cool and hip.

There is no confusion about the republican-god industrial complex. The republican convention speeches are all peppered with reference to god and the like. Coupled with the foreign war starting, gay-hate and drug-war addiction, the republicans are as libertarian as the demoncraps.

Howard said...

BagO

...and one more thing. A tip of the cap for flying up on a kite. I might not agree with you, but you will always have my respect for channeling crazy into fun. Personally, I prefer aluminum skin and four cylinders. But then again, I'm a wimp!

paul a'barge said...

Bob Dylan: anytime, anywhere, I'm there.

Rolling Stone: not worth a nickel. Pass. #Propagandists.

AF said...

I know right? Bob Dylan hearts Romney because Romney and Clint Eastwood are AWESOME. And Winning!

The Crack Emcee said...

kcom,

I don't know what bug crawled into your brain, Crack, but you certainly have grown exceedingly tiresome of late. You're reaching Mick level very quickly. Perhaps you're already there. Do you want to talk, or do you just want to rant?

If you're going to defend a(nother) cult and it's cultist to lead my country, I'll rant, thanks.

The writing's on the wall,...

kcom said...

"If you're going to defend a(nother) cult and it's cultist to lead my country, I'll rant, thanks."

Which will convince absolutely no one. That's why I said it's tiresome. Do you really want to be the new Mick? Or do you want to contribute? And if you don't want to contribute, surely you have better uses for your time.

Oh, by the way, where on the ballot do I select the Mormon Church to "lead my country"? Is it right next to the box I would check for Trinity United Church?

bagoh20 said...

" Kids have always loved to be labeled conservative because fear of change and love of stasis is so cool and hip. "

There is nothing on the right like the controlling compliance of the left. The boomers are old, in control, and they have made their ideas into law in a way the right never did, or even tried to.

You can be a lefty and be loved by conservatives if your not an ass about it, but the left will attack, you, your kids, your livelihood, and your reputation just for expressing yourself. They want you gone and destroyed. That is not something I would ever have hooked up with when I was young.

To be a toady of the government, to blindly follow the ideas of your teachers and your parents is just not what youth is about. We used to demonstrate against the teachers for enforcing rules. Now they all join together to support the teachers and their union's robbing of their parents and themselves. It's supremely uncool, and not free-thinking.

bagoh20 said...

And Howard, you're right about hang gliding. It is freedom. Attached to nothing, floating on air, no fuel, no power but the wind. Although we voluntarily self-regulate, there is no government requirement for a license, registration or anything else. Just don't violate any federal airspace, and you are free like a bird, until you have to land somewhere, and then property rights take over. Usually, common decency and respect takes care of that issue.

William said...

Creely has an interesting take on The Ballad of the Thin Man. I always thought that Mister Jones was the cuckolded husband of "Me and Mrs Jones"......Those people whose opinions about politics are shaped by musicians and actors are not likely voters. That's what I keep telling myself.

The Crack Emcee said...

kcom,

"If you're going to defend a(nother) cult and it's cultist to lead my country, I'll rant, thanks."

Which will convince absolutely no one.

That's why I said it's tiresome,...


You're funny - acting as though reasonable discussion has any place (or effect) on cultish thinking. If it did, I wouldn't be ranting. Listen, I think I know *a little bit more* about this subject than you do - and never expect immediate results - but, just as I was seen as a loony when I first got here, only to be revealed as viewing something the rest of you ignore, I have no doubt this election will end just like the last one:

When you discover it's YOU who have changed by selling out your values, and gotten duped again, and not me.

Do you really want to be the new Mick? Or do you want to contribute? And if you don't want to contribute, surely you have better uses for your time.

"Contribute" to what, exactly? Yours seems to be the new cultish theme around here - go away and leave us to our delusion. Don't make us hear we're wrong. It's pointless, because - if we didn't come to common sense on our own (and I most assuredly don't see anyone ELSE arguing for it) - then we're surely not going to get there while smearing you.

Which is all you're attempting to do under the guise of appearing "reasonable" - smearing Mick (which doesn't trouble you one bit, kind soul that you are) and, by extension, me. Is that different than ranting? Let me tell you about Mick:

If nothing else, he's consistent, which deserves more credit than you We Hate Romney/He's Our Candidate/Don't You Dare Recognize Our Hypocrisy suckers any day.

Oh, by the way, where on the ballot do I select the Mormon Church to "lead my country"? Is it right next to the box I would check for Trinity United Church?

Obama broke with Trinity (you guys like dog whistles more than facts) while Mitt's still a devoted member of his cult - anyway, after next week, it'll already be too late:

They'll already begin to have the upper hand on everything because Mitt doesn't do a damned thing without informing the leadership of the "prophets."

Good job, guys - you've sold us out, Big Time - two elections in a row,...

Charles said...

It's almost as if the most obvious explanation never even crossed anyone's mind:

Dylan is and always has been a conservative.

(I mean, c'mon... have you read the lyrics of My Back Pages? It's the most conservative song ever written. And a Christmas album that everyone (except Dylan) insisted was ironic?)

Valentine Smith said...

Great take Creely, could never figure out why I hated that song. Dylan probably thought it was a rite of passage to suck some cock like his beat heroes.

creeley23 said...

Creely has an interesting take on The Ballad of the Thin Man.

William: Thanks!

I posted it because I think many people, like shiloh and Mikal Gilmore, wish to appropriate Dylan for their own shallow purposes, but there is more to Dylan. Much of his journey, as I understand it, has been to avoid such appropriation.

Dylan has been overestimated and underestimated. He is not America's conscience nor our messiah. (I had a cousin once so enthused with Dylan he wanted to gather a bunch of people together to ask D. if he was the messiah.) But Dylan is one hell of an artist and songwriter, better than most people realize. No one can take that away from him.

PS I believe many of those dense crazy songs he wrote, like "Thin Man," came out of his druggy New York period around the Chelsea Hotel and the Andy Warhol entourage.

creeley23 said...

Great take Creely, could never figure out why I hated that song. Dylan probably thought it was a rite of passage to suck some cock like his beat heroes.

Valentine Smith: Thanks too! I wouldn't put it quite so indelicately, but perhaps so. Dylan was hungry for experiences which, like the Beats, he used in his writing.

And who knows, maybe he had some interest in that direction. It's not that unusual an impulse.

I didn't hate "Thin Man" but the jarring imagery did put me off. I was relieved when I finally arrived at that interpretation.

Synova said...

"The republican convention speeches are all peppered with reference to god and the like."

I wonder what an actual accounting between the two conventions would show. And if it's one point per mention, how many points for actual Bible quotes?

The Dem convention was like... Vagina! Gay marriage! Gay military! Military! God! Vagina! God! Military! Gay! Vagina! Military! God!

It was sort of amazing. Oh, there should probably be a "Romney concentration camp baby eater hates jobs!" in between each of those.

shiloh said...

c23, your "anal" retentiveness and parochial psychoanalysis is duly noted!

Oh God said to Abraham, "Kill me a son"
Abe says, "Man, you must be puttin' me on"
God say, "No." Abe say, "What ?"
God say, "You can do what you want Abe, but
The next time you see me comin' you better run"
Well Abe says, "Where do you want this killin' done ?"
God says. "Out on Highway 61".


Dylan's father was Abraham Zimmerman ...

harrogate said...

Crack,

You're pretty cagey yourself. I bet you even like Dylan's music more than you have said you do, in the past.

bandmeeting said...

I always thought Gilmore was conservative. His family history is VERY pro-gun and his brother was so in favor of the death penalty that he tried it out himself.

Saint Croix said...

Dylan is and always has been a conservative.

I think his irritation is that of an artist who knows that if he says he's unhappy with Obama, it'll be news. And people will attack him and his career might be hurt some. Liberals can be very intolerant in that way. They are all too prone to boycott anybody who doesn't toe the line.

So he doesn't want to attack Obama but he doesn't want to praise him, either. I totally get that. Republicans are in the closet in Hollywood and I imagine the music industry is similar.

Other cool thing about Dylan is how pro-Israel he is. Neighborhood Bully is a terrific song about Israel and the Jewish people.

Neil Young is another guy who is considered to be really political. He shocked a lot of people with his willingness to say nice things about Reagan. Nice interview with him in the Wall Street Journal.

Funny how Rolling Stone just wants Dylan to talk about Obama, while the WSJ wants to hear the artist talk about music.

The Crack Emcee said...

harrogate,

Crack,

You're pretty cagey yourself. I bet you even like Dylan's music more than you have said you do, in the past.


I like Dylan. Never denied liking him. I'll never worship him, or consider him as great an artist as he's pumped up to be, but I like him - especially as a person:

I don't think I've ever heard Bob Dylan say anything that's made mr cringe.

He's done some things, especially in his early days, that - in hindsight - I thought were mean. But it was a different world and he had to live in it, which I can understand when I consider how I'm received, not finding many safe harbors amongst the sea of believers, hypocrites, liars, and cowards that make up what others consider "civilized society." (Not rational or truly good, mind you, but one THEY feel comfortable thriving in.)

But Bob has fought the good fight, throwing out the proper questions, and never fading on the answer of the black issue in this country. And one of his best songs (a cover actually) saved my mind, if not my life, after my divorce -and set the tone of my relations with most women since. I'll always be grateful for that.

No, I like Bob, but as a man - which how I think he'd like to be admired. Anything more is bullshit. Anything less is a lie.

Dylan is a survivor of all the iconic nonsense introduced in his lifetime, and - as it's elected standard bearer - I think his rejection of it is an example to us all,...

Roy Lofquist said...

Anyone who thinks they understand Dylan doesn't. He is sui generis. Might as well try to understand Ezra Pound or T.S. Eliot. Light a joint, drink some wine and listen. That's what I did the day I cast a vote for Barry Goldwater.

creeley23 said...

Anyone who thinks they understand Dylan doesn't.

Oh, come on. Dylan has a very broad range from easy ("Lay Lady Lay") to straightforward ("The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll") to fun ("Jack of Hearts") to mildly challenging ("Blowin' In the Wind") to somewhat challenging ("Like A Rolling Stone") to difficult ("Ballad of a Thin Man") to obscure ("Visions of Johanna") with lots more territory besides.

Telling people they can't understand Dylan (or Eliot or Pound for that matter) is just mean and wrong. True, some it is difficult to impossible (I'm thinking more Eliot and Pound than Dylan), but like Steve Jobs once said, "The journey is the reward."

You won't know until you try, and it's all right to ask for help.

creeley23 said...

Since we have some real Dylan aficionados here, with no less than AA herself, try Andy Warhol as Queen Jane in "Queen Jane Approximately."

I swear it works! That one took some time to unravel. It becomes a very funny song from that angle.

yashu said...

try Andy Warhol as Queen Jane in "Queen Jane Approximately."

Oh my gosh, I like that reading! It works indeed.

bagoh20 said...

I bet all this shit, and I mean all of it just cracks Dylan up. That's alright. It makes people happy, and engaged, so it's cool, but I just get reminded of people seeing Jesus in a piece of toast. As many song writers have confessed, including Dylan, sometimes the words just sound good together, which is just fine, especially when it sounds like Jesus.

creeley23 said...

...sometimes the words just sound good together...

bagoh20: And sometimes, more often, the words mean something.

I'm a writer. People who care about writing, and Dylan does, aren't just throwing words at paper and hoping something sticks. Usually they are after something, even if the result appears opaque to others. Besides, it is hard to make something completely out of nothing, so one works with the materials at hand, i.e. one's experiences. Dylan has admitted that too.

I got to Warhol because I was checking Nico as a possible inspiration for "Visions of Johanna." After all, Nico was Leonard Cohen's "Joan of Arc" and they were all in that Chelsea Hotel/Warhol Factory/NYC nexus, so it seemed possible that Nico was Johanna. So I started thinking about the Warhol circle in general as a fertile field for Dylan to exploit in his songs.

Dylan did visit Warhol at the Factory. There are all sorts of tells in "Queen Jane Approximately" that subject is Warhol -- creations, repetition, plastic (Exploding Plastic Inevitable), flower ladies (transvestites), bandits (hustlers) and the mood of sophisticated boredom which permeates the song. So I felt I was on solid ground with my hunch. Then I checked wiki:

However, in 1965 Dylan himself told journalist Nora Ephron that "Queen Jane is a man".

Bingo!

If you've got a better idea, won't you come see me, Queen Bag.

The Crack Emcee said...

bagoh20,

I bet all this shit, and I mean all of it just cracks Dylan up. That's alright. It makes people happy, and engaged, so it's cool, but I just get reminded of people seeing Jesus in a piece of toast. As many song writers have confessed, including Dylan, sometimes the words just sound good together, which is just fine, especially when it sounds like Jesus.

That's a fine observation, now look at how fast cruelly tries to flip it into a belief system:

And sometimes, more often, the words mean something.

I swear, you can't win with these people. They want it SO BAD! There's GOT to be something more than mere songwriting here, you understand, because "I'm a writer" - but not a very good one because, otherwise, people would constantly be tripping on my imaginative turns of phrase, which doesn't happen - but still, I know.

Give me a break.

The man is a man.

And you, bagoh, know more about his craft than all the wannabe worshipers in the world, combined,....

creeley23 said...

Crack Emcee: All hat, no cattle -- as usual.

Are you really saying that none of Dylan's songs mean anything? That they are all word play, and any meaning one might find is just "seeing Jesus in in a piece of toast."

If you can make that case, won't you come see me, Queen Crack.

yashu said...

Oh please (rolling eyes), WTF, there's nothing in what creeley said (interpreting what a songwriter-- nothing more than a songwriter, as creeley himself points out-- might have meant or suggested by his lyrics) that flips it into a "belief system."

But someone here always has to project and insult others (like creeley here, who's doing nothing more than enjoying and taking pleasure from speculatively interpreting Dylan's lyrics, which is part of the very point of lyrics) as some kind of cultist thing. When creeley was the first to insist Dylan is no messiah.

What an insufferable ego/ attitude, always on his hobbyhorse.

yashu said...

There are all sorts of tells in "Queen Jane Approximately" that subject is Warhol -- creations, repetition, plastic (Exploding Plastic Inevitable), flower ladies (transvestites), bandits (hustlers) and the mood of sophisticated boredom which permeates the song.

And much of it is stuff that goes to the heart of what we know of Warhol's personality and life. Warhol's relationship to "your children [who] start to resent you" (e.g. starting with the obvious, Evie). And "all the clowns that you have commissioned [who] have died in battle or in vain" (from drugs.) And starting with a reference to his "mother" (whom Warhol adored). And "that you’re tired of yourself and all of your creations" and "you're sick of all this repetition" and "you want somebody you don’t have to speak to"…

Good one, creeley, my hat's off.

yashu said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
creeley23 said...

yashu: Bang! You get it. Warhol is a fascinating character and Queen Jane fits him like a glove.

It's a shame that so many people write off Dylan's deeper songs as inspired, impenetrable nonsense that no one can understand and Dylan didn't mean them to.

Sometimes Dylan is just playing. Many of the Basement Tapes songs come across that way, but note how few of them have survived as songs of import.

Dylan is a flat genius. He can write silly love songs, surreal doggerel, straight-up protest songs, visionary mysticism, social commentary, wonderful story songs, intricately coded songs, great relationship songs, and every now and then a song that changes history.

It doesn't make Dylan a messiah nor anyone who appreciates his range and depth a cult follower.

Thanks.

creeley23 said...

People can read too much into words. I've run into insane James Joyce scholarship, as well as a professor who was certain that "Sail on, silver girl" in Simon & Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Waters" meant that the song's narrator was a junkie shooting up.

But it's also true that writers intentionally create subtle effects that are amazing. I recommend Francine Prose's Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them for a wonderful tour of writerly skills.

Dylan is such a writer. Consider Tweeter & the Monkey Man which he knocked out for The Travelling Wilburys. "Tweeter" was a killer parody of Bruce Springsteen. Dylan composed it, one senses, with his left hand.

If Dylan can do that, why not a send-up of Andy Warhol as Queen Jane so subtle that almost no one noticed?

Dylan is a master. Those who believe his words are "Jesus in a piece of toast" are either lazy or fools.

yashu said...

People can read too much into words.

Heh, tell me about it. I studied literature sometime during deconstruction's hangover. Which involved a very hostile form of "reading into"-- or more accurately, "reading asunder."

But what you're talking about is more characteristic of a different kind of reading, which approaches the text as if it were a sacred dense cryptic symbology to be deciphered, as if the words were hieroglyphics rather than human speech.

But it's also true that writers intentionally create subtle effects that are amazing.

Agreed. One of the best practitioners of very close reading of poetry-- who prefers to let the poem show her how to read it, without a theoretical agenda/ axe to grind-- is Helen Vendler. I find many literary critics' close readings arbitrary and tendentious, but Vendler's are consistently illuminating. I've learned much from her about how to read poetry.

Dylan is a master. Those who believe his words are "Jesus in a piece of toast" are either lazy or fools.

Agreed. Sure, it's possible for someone to dislike or dismiss or criticize his lyrics. But it's indisputable (not just from his work, but from countless remarks Dylan has made in interviews etc. about his craft) that he puts a great deal of thought and care into their construction.

Here's a fun collection of interviews. Just to quote two remarks (picked randomly, because they're the first ones I found in the first interview at hand):

"A lot of myself crosses over into my songs. I'll write something and say to myself, I can change this, I can make this not so personal, and at other times I'll say, I think I'll leave this on a personal level, and if somebody wants to peek at it and make up their own minds about what kind of character I am, that's up to them. Other times I might say, well, it's too personal, I think I'll turn the corner on it, because why do I want somebody thinking about what I'm thinking about, especially if it's not to their benefit."

"Sometimes the 'you' in my songs is me talking to me. Other times I can be talking to somebody else. If I'm talking to me in a song, I'm not going to drop everything and say, alright, now I'm talking to you. It's up to you to figure out who's who. A lot of times it's 'you' talking to 'you.' The 'I,' like in 'I and I,' also changes. It could be I, or it could be the 'I' who created me. And also, it could be another person who's saying 'I.' When I say 'I' right now, I don’t know who I'm talking about."

creeley23 said...

yashu: Great link and quotes!

I was struck by the second Dylan quote, in which he explains how fluid the "I" and the "you" are in his songs. While composing the "Thin Man" comment, I noticed that at the beginining of the sword swallower verse, Mr. Jones is receiving fellatio but at the end of the verse he has given fellatio.

Crack insulted me for mentioning that I was a writer (Crack insults just about everyone for just about everything), but it's one of the ways I know -- in addition to what writers tell us -- how deeply writers think about what they write.

JAL said...

Well, haven't read the comments, but the Dylan response was great.

Not easily intimidated.