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Dylan’s Whistle


Silly, narcissistic cutie pie gets his ass kicked, and so be it, says the visual track on Dylan’s new single, “Duquesne Whistle.”  Meanwhile the music track calls to mind a concert-induced rhythmic euphoria such that I saw the Dylan gang stoke up when they blew through town.

Contradiction is a word I’ve seen used to describe the relationship between sound and sight in the Dylan video release.  Does he contradict himself?  Very well.  How else do we grow old and stay young at the same time?

But the video never lets you see what you want to see more of.  Like the street scene at the beginning.  The “establishment” shot.  What’s on that marquee? And who’s that way over there, like some F. Scott Fitzgerald billboard, always looking on?

The Dylan posse is riveting, but of course it must also move too fast. Iconic in its symbolic heavyweightedness, the moving image speaks to purpose, arrangement,  and taking care of yourself.  Precisely it contradicts sentimentality, heteronormativity, and careless regard.

There’s a cultural revolution in the works, and somebody in this experience looks and sounds like he knows it.  Like he knows it, and it’s right on time.

Once again, the Medal of Freedom poet socks you right up your expectations and breaks your habits for you in case you hadn’t troubled to break them for yourself.

It’s just a train whistle after all.  What you do with that semiotic, well, just don’t go forgettin’ that karma’s going to instantly reply to you.

GREG MOSES is editor of and author of Revolution of Conscience: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Philosophy of Nonviolence.  He can be reached at

Greg Moses writes about peace and Texas, but not always at the same time. He is author of Revolution of Conscience: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Philosophy of Nonviolence. As editor of the Texas Civil Rights Review he has written about racism faced by Black agriculturalists in Texas. He can be reached at

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