I should write a few words on Dylan, I suppose.
I have always been puzzled, and not a little put off, by the hulking, derelict infrastructure of the boomer adoration for Bob Dylan, incarnations 2 (folkie/activist) and 3 (imperial achitect of late-sixties rockism).
However, even as a youngster, i always had an appreciation for the well-crafted song, and in any of Dylan’s many manifestations, he has been able to do this. The song that first overcame my punkish rejection of the long-haired flapdoodle whiner was “Masters of War,” a song whose sentiments I still embrace. However, the structure and technique of the song impresses me less, today, than Ozzy Osbourne’s bastard reinterpretation, “War Pigs.” Which song accords the addressed members of society the proper respect? The choice, it seems, is clear.
Nonetheless, Dylan’s raw, confrontational energy appealed to me very much. It struck me that it was important to learn about what one finds distasteful, yet holds in ignorance. Why, I wondered, did my elders hold the author of “Leopardskin Pillbox Hat,” “Everybody Must Get Stoned,” and “Mr Tambourine Man” in such esteem? I could see no distinction between these songs and any other pop–radio AOR pap polluting my eardrum, ten years past its’ prime.
“Everybody Must Get Stoned,” in particular, while not without its’ charms, had well overstayed its’ welcome in my ears by the time I was, oh, ten. Honestly, this song, still a mainstay of classic rock radio as a consequence of its’ ponderous length, simplicity, and frat-boy, groupthink chanting chorus (cf. the title, any Martians reading this note), is charming only insofar as your personal friends, individuals you know and love and forgive their drunken moments, may have recorded it. To wit, not to you, and also not to me.
I found the celebrated works of Dylan’s youth occasionally brilliant, but I did not generally locate his brilliance in the same works that persons of his initial consumer base chose to. In fact, his work was really something that primarily appealed to me on a scholarly basis. This changed for me about ten years ago, when I picked up a cutout, clearly used copy of “Good as I Been to You” for about five bucks.
More to come.