October 26, 2016

The absence of narcissism in Bob Dylan.

"What really set me apart in these days was my repertoire. It was more formidable than the rest of the coffeehouse players, my template being hard-core folk songs backed by incessantly loud strumming. I’d either drive people away or they’d come in closer to see what it was all about. There was no in-between. There were a lot of better singers and better musicians around these places but there wasn’t anybody close in nature to what I was doing. Folk songs were the way I explored the universe, they were pictures and the pictures were worth more than anything I could say. I knew the inner substance of the thing. I could easily connect the pieces. It meant nothing for me to rattle off things like 'Columbus Stockade,' 'Pastures of Plenty,' 'Brother in Korea' and 'If I Lose, Let Me Lose' all back-to-back just like it was one long song. Most of the other performers tried to put themselves across, rather than the song, but I didn’t care about doing that. With me, it was about putting the song across."

Bob Dylan,  "Chronicles: Volume One" (pp. 17-18).

IN THE COMMENTS: traditionalguy said: "Bob was one hell of a communicator in the 1960s. Even today his silence speaks louder than most." Made me think of this:


traditionalguy said...

Bob was one hell of a communicator in the 1960s. Even today his silence speaks louder than most.

The first trick is speaking/singing loud. That's how you get their attention. (DaTrump uses it too)

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

I have no problem with any of that.

madAsHell said...

No, I think it's more the sense that Dylan is going to tarnish his brand with a bunch of hucksters trying to polish their brand.

madAsHell said...

arrrggghhhh!!! "Dylan isn't going" NOT "Dylan is going"

That's twice in two days. Maybe I need to hang up the keyboard!!

Otto said...

I’d either drive people away or they’d come in closer to see what it was all about.
I explored the universe
I knew the inner substance of the thing.
I could easily connect the pieces.
No narcissism here.

traditionalguy said...

A great communicator is essentially a servant that delivers messages accurately.Self is not involved in that.

Narcissism has become a common insult used by jealous people who don't want us to hear the message. There is a real Toxic Narcissim illness, which is a powerful evil force that harms everyone.

Paul Snively said...

In the Traveling Wilburys documentary materials, there's a wonderful quote from George Harrison. I don't have it in front of me at the moment, but it goes something like "Bob wrote this tune with a bunch of Americana that I just couldn't understand."

He must have been talking about Tweeter and the Monkey Man. I wish I could have sat down with George (for about a million reasons) and explained that this is what Dylan did: wrote a word picture that, yes, is based on some aspects of American culture and history, but is just as much mythmaking and imagination as that.

In other words, storytelling.

William said...

Maybe Dylan is narcisstic in a unique and idiosyncratic way......I've no quarrel with the Nobel people giving him the award, nor even his response to that award. I do look askance, however, at his putting a higher valence on an Academy Award than on a Nobel. That's kind of strange. What if Dylan was going through the early stages of dementia and nobody noticed.

Graham Powell said...

This reminds me of an excerpt that I read from Bruce Springsteen's book, where he said he looked at what at lot of the artists he admired were doing. He knew he wasn't the best singer, or the best musician, but he saw that these guys created their own little worlds and invited everyone else in. That's what Bruce did, and I think it's a pretty good description of what Dylan does too.

Steve said...

Narcissism is "a grandiose view of one's own talents." What better way to show narcissism than to consider yourself so far above the Nobel Prize that you hardly acknowledge it.

FullMoon said...

Saw "Don't look back decades ago, Thing I remember most was Dylan was kind of a little prick to Donovan and Baez. Egotistical little shit at the top of the world. But, that was in 1967 or so, he is so much younger now.

rightguy2 said...

True artists tend to call attention to their art more than themselves. To the exact extent that they call attention to themselves, their art is diminished.

In song performance, a common artistic adulteration is to insert an overly flashy instrumental solo (the guitarist is screaming lookatme!) into a song, thus calling attention away from a good lyric. The Beatles knew all about this and they were artists of the first order.

traditionalguy said...

FTR:Narcissism is requiring all things and people to play a certain part in the Narcissist's imagination of what he looks like to people in is mental stage play. It is HIS show for himself. You must play your part at all times or be thrown out of his play forever.

Ergo: You are actually ignored while a part of you is used by them.

But Bob Dylan constantly sought out understanding of the roles on life's stage. He liked people way too much to ever abuse them. And Women fascinated him until they had so much power over him that he had to go free. It ain't me Babe, he sang to a Joan Baez type.

Sydney said...

@Paul Snively- I always thought "Tweeter and the Monkey Man" was a parody of Bruce Springsteen songs.