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Down With Dylan

by RICHARD OXMAN

“All the truth in the world adds up to one big lie”

— Bob Dylan

“Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.”

— Dylan Thomas

“I used to care but – things have changed.”

— Bob Dylan

“And I am dumb to tell a weather’s wind
How time has ticked a heaven round the stars.”

— Dylan Thomas from The force that through the green fuse drives the flower

There’s only one Dylan. For me. Thomas, not Bob. No contest.

From about 1917 to 1927, when Samuel Beckett grew from a boy of eleven to a young man of twenty-one, anyone walkin’ up O’Connell Street in Dublin would pass a post office that had been left…unattended, a wreck. Growin’ into manhood, my favorite playwright witnessed “demolition, not glory” lookin’ at that sorry excuse for a building. And I don’t believe for one moment that the young Protestant “stayed aloof” of what it emblematized. (1)

Taking in Bob Dylan during the highly-touted 60 Minutes Ed Bradley interview this evening, I had a clear view of something that had been demolished. Nothing glorious emerged during the scandalous segment…which was, apparently, set up by CBS/Viacom/Simon & (shyster) Schuster to hawk the Song and Dance Man’s recently written memoir titled Chronicles Volume One.

Ah, so that’s why we got his first television interview in 19 years.

I trust that readers can get past the Legend (with a capital “L,” please note)…and his many AccomplishmentS (two capitals!), so as to absorb the ABOMINATION that is bobboh. Oh, maybe it’ll help to note that no one ever liked Dylan’s lyrics (plus) more than me.

Go ahead and ask the obligatory question of what went wrong, ’cause I have a very cute answer for you…at the end. It’s what spurred me on to stay up late tonight (with these negative thoughts before turning in).

In fact, perhaps a few questions are in order. To wit, why did Dylan refer to his parents as “he and his wife?” What moves a person to say that they were “born to the wrong parents?” Mmm…maybe it has something to do with one’s definition of “destiny.” “You know somethin’ about yourself that no one else does…which must be kept to yourself.” I remember feelin’ like that in early high school, late grade school moreso. I also had a LOT of trouble, distance –you name it– with my (now dead) folks.

That bit about how his parents thought Hibbing was The Capital of the World, when Bob saw clearly that –for him– New York City was the CotW meant something special to me. It meant that he, obviously, never read Black Elk Speaks…or anything of the sort…or that he simply doesn’t embrace that kind of non-New York thinking.

How’d Dylan come to change his name from Zimmerman of Hibbing to Bob So-and-So? “It’s the land of the free,” said Bob D. Wow. I think that got to me…more than anything else. No, I’m serious. That’s all he said (though he might have muttered something to the effect that “you can do what you want” also). Please don’t bring in anything about the cutting room floor here. I used to have TV and radio gigs, interviewing stars (quite a bit lower on The Ladder), and…that was him, trust me.

I mean…how does one go through thirty minutes of such an experience without a single reference to another star (except Elvis!). And if he did mutter someone’s name that I missed…under his undoubtedly strange breath…I know that he uttered zero words about The Wallflowers, his son’s band. Of course, he’s under no obligation to do so. (2).

Oh yes, no words about any wars either from The One-Time Master of Anti-War Song.

He would rather be known as a Zionist and/or a Song and Dance Man than to be billed as The Archbishop of Anarchy? Y’know, maybe that was a better line than the one above about “Land of the Free.”

All of those who just shouted out (without permission) that BD was simply being modest…step to the right. Not to the left. That’s whereabouts his songs were sermons, contrary to his protestations in Michael Rudutsky’s profane production tonight. What about those of us who heard them as sermons of sorts? Oh, we “must not have heard them.”

People used to visit him and plop down labels in his presence…that had nothing to do with him? They claimed to know him, and wouldn’t except that the Real Guy was different than The Image? Y’mean like what happens with every star with every teenybopper…and most adult fans? This wouldn’t be half so bad, if Bob hadn’t brought up the fact that someone once insisted that he was into Organic Food. Why? Because he blew a great op for an Incredible Plug…by vying for a shrug of the shoulders…as if to simply say “That’s not me.”

Would it have been so difficult for him to jump outside of himself for a moment, and put in a good word for good eating? I guess so…if you’ve chosen to stay inside for the full thirty minutos.

How ’bout “Lying”…during these times of Official Mendacity in not Mend A City, but Tear Up Cities Around The Globe Times? “You only have to think twice about lying to yourself and to God.” That’s it? Well, I guess I know who in the Bush family is gonna be the first person to purchase the soon-to-be-released Chronicles Volume One in Crawford’s closest Crowns.

What a clown. (4) Okay, you don’t have to accept the mantle of Prophet/Messiah. But Barnum & Bailey Bob? Like Uncle Miltie might say, Make Up!!!

I could go on and on, believe me, with such ditties as Downer Dylan calling God the “Chief Commander,” and his absolutely absurd take on his “Like a Rolling Stone” being selected as The Number One Song of All Time (by Rolling Stone Magazine). But he’s not worth it. Or, rather, our heartbeats are much too valuable.

If you don’t see BD as an enemy…write to me. And if you do…write to me. There are things to do about Arrogance and Greed in this country whether or not the target is Bush or Bob.

That quote above, the one from the wonderful movie Wonder Boys…which is off of a lovely sounding BD track titled “Things Have Changed,” is a bit disingenuous. To wit, things haven’t changed for that writer. He NEVER cared. (3)

In five punishing capital letters.

NOTES:

(1) The famous post office was the site of the 1916 Easter Rebellion; Hugh Kenner, in A Colder Eye: The Modern Irish Writers (Balimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1983), p. 263, suggested that Beckett was not moved by the image or memory.

(2) Which reminds me that editors who deal with me would be under absolutely no obligation to respond to personal emails from me, notifying them that I have terminal cancer…even if they had been posting my stuff for years.

(3) Bob Dylan’s avowed “lack of commitment” is a far cry from, say, that of Brendan Behan’s. The former was formed from selfishness, the latter lilting in The Realm of Distrust.

(4) Recent participation in “women-as-sex objects-ads”…in full Daliesque cosmetics contributes to this, certainly.

RICHARD OXMAN, a former resident of the Seth Boyden Housing Project in Newark, New Jersey (and quite familiar with what good Bob Dylan did for Hurricaine Carter), can be reached at dueleft@yahoo.com. He now lives in Los Gatos, CA…where there are no housing projects, and where most people think the oddest things about the Song and Dance Man.

 

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RICHARD OXMAN can be found these days reading Joe Bageant’s material in Los Gatos, California; contact can be made at dueleft@yahoo.com. The Ox’s never-before-revealed “biography” is available at http://news.modernwriters.org/Some of his recent writing can be found in his Arts & Entertainment section and Features (under Social) there.

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