the blood of the land in my voice

Bob Dylan Poetically Tells Media People They’re All Still Idiots

There must be somethin' happenin' but you still don't know what it is, do you, Miss Dowd?Bob Dylan does things on his own schedule. For a half century now, newspaper people and other media cretins have regularly parachuted into Bob Dylan Land, taken a confused look around, and then ran back to their typewriters or radio mics or television studios or laptops or, we guess, cell phones with the Twitter, in attempts to stir up some newsstand sales or page views or Facebook likes or other forms of venereal disease of the heart, by claiming Bob Dylan did this or that thing. In nearly every recorded instance, Bob Dylan didn’t do whatever people said he did, or he did something that could only be loosely associated with, say, some asinine column by Maureen Dowd, who spends a lot of time lamenting “the greatest generation,” meaning, “when she was a young person, in the 1970s.”

So, many months after a brief media flurry regarding Dylan’s never-ending musical tour making a stop in China, a statement has appeared on BobDylan.com. It is informative, if you care at all about whether or not Chinese government authorities “approved” the set list of a senior citizen and longtime Malibu resident with a long career in show business. But it is also very funny, especially the end:

As far as censorship goes, the Chinese government had asked for the names of the songs that I would be playing. There’s no logical answer to that, so we sent them the set lists from the previous 3 months. If there were any songs, verses or lines censored, nobody ever told me about it and we played all the songs that we intended to play.

Everybody knows by now that there’s a gazillion books on me either out or coming out in the near future. So I’m encouraging anybody who’s ever met me, heard me or even seen me, to get in on the action and scribble their own book. You never know, somebody might have a great book in them.

[BobDylan.com/LA Times]

About the author

A writer and editor of this website from 2006 to early 2012, Ken Layne is occassionally seen on Twitter and writes small books and is already haunting you from beyond (your) grave.

View all articles by Ken Layne
What Others Are Reading

Hola wonkerados.

To improve site performance, we did a thing. It could be up to three minutes before your comment appears. DON'T KEEP RETRYING, OKAY?

Also, if you are a new commenter, your comment may never appear. This is probably because we hate you.

124 comments

  1. V572..whatever

    Everyone should read Chronicles, Volume 1 at their earliest opportunity. It's amazingly good.

    1. WhatTheHeck

      No can do. I’m currently in the basement mixing up the medicine to fix the media cretins.

    2. Cheetah Repeater

      Yes, yes and yes. Had no idea what it would be like but I couldn't stop reading it. Even when it ended! He's a good writer.

      1. V572..whatever

        Which shouldn't surprise us. It was surprising to find him so self-effacing, kind to others, and willing to reveal less-than-flattering aspects of his life. At one point some musicians in New Orleans ask him, "Why don't you write songs like 'Masters of War' and 'Chimes of Freedom' anymore?" If only….

        1. riverside68

          Suze Rotolo, Freewheelin Girl: She was the daughter of Italian Communists with her own ideas about life, art and politics

          What boys will do to get laid: create great art.

  2. Troubledog

    Next thing you know this smug self-righteous asshole will get invited to the White House on poetry day.

    1. sati_demise

      Steve Martin and his banjo bumped him for the smug self-righteous asshole slot this year.

  3. Callyson

    the Chinese government had asked for the names of the songs that I would be playing. There’s no logical answer to that
    Well, "It's not your concern" comes to mind as a logical answer…perhaps Bob Dylan needs a weatherman after all…

      1. Callyson

        I know, but it would sure be nice to see *someone* not cave to censorship in China. Yes–I'm an eternal optimist, or incredibly deluded…

        1. RavenRant

          People have stood up – They are in prison now. Dylan simply wouldn't have been allowed to play.

          I get your point though. Our media glosses over the censorship and repression because of the sweet, sweet $$$ being made by their owners/sponsors.

          I do my best to boycott all Chinese made products, (getting harder all the time, as fewer and fewer products are manufactured anywhere the concept of 'workers rights' or even 'human rights' have taken hold.) It's my own futile little protest.

          I also try to speak out about worker abuses, censorship, etc. It seems most Americans have no idea. The assume since trade has 'normalized', conditions must be okay.

          When it comes to Dylan, though, he may have thought he could slip some subversive content through to his listeners that the censors wouldn't get. Or, maybe it was all about the benjamins. Given his entire life's work, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.

          On the other hand, his guest stint on the Victoria's Secret show was inexplicable.

          Keep your optimism. To accept the status quo is to surrender to the injustice.

          (Sorry. Snark impaired at the moment.)

    1. Arken

      I'm pretty indifferent to this whole situation, but I would have thought that the logical answer would be "here's the list of songs I will be playing."

  4. baconzgood

    I hate folk music and especially hippies so I don't give a shit about Bob Dylan. Frankly I think he's waaaaaaaaay over rated and wish that dude from the Jesus Lizard would kick the crap out of him.

    (this comment is 100% snark free)

    1. Mumbletypeg

      but

      “the greatest generation,” meaning, “.. in the 1970s.”

      don't forget, let alone the hippies; the 70s did give us Soouuuuuuuuuuuuuuuul Traaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaiiin

      (I'm still kinda missing your old avatar I guess)

      1. baconzgood

        I'll have to find it for you mumble. I liked it too now I can find it anymore. I forgot what I googled.

      2. Angry_Marmot

        When the Soul Train animation came on, it signaled that the Saturday morning cartoons were over. It was like hearing "last call."

    2. Cheetah Repeater

      I'm the least hippie lovin' guy there is, but Dylan is probably been even more influential than those long-haired Beatle boys in modern music. I urge you to take another look at some Basement Tapes/Blonde on Blonde action.

      And if David Yow was as successful we'd be living in a much better world. Or at least more fucked up, in good ways.

      1. baconzgood

        Fuck yeah brother. I don't poo poo (tee-hee "poo") Dylans influence I just don't like him. I think David Yow has more poignant lyrics.

        "Meow Meow Meow Beep Beep
        Next time you kids run through my yard go around"

        The poetry drips from you chin.

        1. sati_demise

          I have trouble explaining this to people too. He wrote great lyrics, I can recite them. I like his latest release. He sings drunk in concert way too much. hmmmm, no good explanation.

    3. riverside68

      It is my understanding that the feeling is entirely mutual

      (Zimmerman hates folk music and hippies, doesn't give a shit about you, and thinks he is way overrated.)

  5. Poindexter718

    They prolly just promised an autographed set list to Kim Jong Il in exchange for some kim-chee and three years of nuclear forebearance.

  6. SorosBot

    That's a classy way to respond to Dowd's stupidity; personally I would have just sang Idiot Wind to her (you're an idiot, babe, it's a wonder that you still know how the breathe).

  7. johnnymeatworth

    Nice, a whole new generation of Mr. Joneses who know something is happening here but don't know what it is.

  8. SayItWithWookies

    You never know, somebody might have a great book in them.

    This does not apply to Sarah Palin. Unless she happens to eat The Sun Also Rises at some point.

    1. FlownOver

      There are other ways she could come to have a great book in her. Did anyone ever happen to publish a particularly jagged-edged edition of Ulysses?

    2. riverside68

      Joe McGinniss is all up in her shit workin on gettin a great book out of her at this very moment.

  9. undeterredbyreality

    I'm startin' my book right now. I know he was talkin' to me personally.

  10. badseeds

    Someone's got it in for me, they're planting stories in the press
    Whoever it is I wish they'd cut it but when they will I can only guess.
    They say I shot a man named Gray and took his wife to Italy,
    She inherited a million bucks and when she died it came to me.
    I can't help it if I'm lucky.

    Alt-post: what comes out of Maureen Dowd's mouth.

    e: damn it, SorosBot

  11. notreelyhelping

    I'd write about the time he showed up wearing a hooded parka to "Little Shop of Horrors," but I'm saving that for the book.

  12. cheaphits

    Now your dancing child with his Chinese suit
    He spoke to me, I took his flute
    No, I wasn't very cute to him, was I?
    But I did it, though, because he lied
    Because he took you for a ride
    And because time was on his side

  13. Lucidamente1

    "asinine column by Maureen Dowd": that's what my junior high English teacher would have called a redundancy.

  14. SorosBot

    She takes just like a woman, yes, she does
    She makes love just like a woman, yes, she does
    And she aches just like a woman
    But she writes just like a drunk old gossipy skank

    1. zappadoo76

      Please give us your textual analysis. That could be a big help in answering my main question about the book, which was "Huh?"

  15. FraAnima

    The foreign sun, it squints upon
    A bed that is never mine
    As friends and other strangers
    From their fates try to resign
    Leaving men wholly totally free
    To do anything they wish to do but die
    And there are no trials inside the Gates of Eden.

    Also too.

      1. FraAnima

        Very few people realize that Dylan wrote the lyrics to Totoro:

        Totoro, To-to-ro!
        Totoro, To-to-ro!

        It's on Highway 61 Revisited.

    1. orygoon

      I dunno if I admit it when I just don't even GET it. But by then, I had turned a point and was listening to newer (and older) stuff.

  16. littlebigdaddy

    She writes a decent column about one in every ten. That latest one on Osama made no sense to me at all. I think she's on acid trying recapture those magic vibes.

  17. undeterredbyreality

    Another side of…

    If you ever try to interfere with me or cross my path again
    You do so at the peril of your own life
    I’m not quite as cool or forgiving as I sound
    I’ve seen enough heartaches and strife
    (Floater)

    Released 9/11/01

  18. lochnessmonster

    Sound Opinions had Al Cooper on talking about Dylan…a LOT of the crap written about Dylan was just that…CRAP per Al, someone who was in the room.

  19. rhubarbpie2

    I happen to like Dylan, but here was the report from my niece, who went to see Dylan in Shanghai — her Chinese husband is a big fan. She said it was better than the first Dylan concert she'd seen (in the U.S.) a few years ago, cause she didn't fall asleep.

  20. OneYieldRegular

    I tried to get tickets to hear Faye Wong when she played Vegas. Can I get an advance on the book I'm planning to write about it?

  21. Beanball

    Jewels and binoculars hang from the head of the mule
    But these words from Maureen make her seem
    Like a tool

  22. mercianomad

    "Everybody knows by now that there’s a gazillion books on me either out or coming out in the near future. So I’m encouraging anybody who’s ever met me, heard me or even seen me, to get in on the action and scribble their own book."

    I like this particular bit because just a little while ago I was at my local bookstore and noted that the number of different books about Bob Dylan outnumbered (by 10 to 8) those on anything related to the 5+ centuries of 'classical'/composed music that came before him.

  23. neiltheblaze

    Can't you imagine Maureen Dowd – laying on her big brass bed as a teenager, listening to "She Belongs to Me" and thinking "He's singing about meeeeee……"

  24. kittenbomb

    Jesus, what kind of shit was Maureen Dowd smoking to think the 70's were in any way great? That decade was immediately disqualified by Seals and Crofts.

    1. Angry_Marmot

      Making lemons out of lemonade, 70's music was so cringe-worthy it drove me to jazz, blues, world/folk, classical, anything but Top 40.

    2. LesPaultard

      I think I spent (wasted) a full year of that decade listening to Stairway to Heaven, Freebird, and 2112.

  25. zappadoo76

    Dylan understands the Chinese bureaucracy, which doesn't care what he puts on the form they give him, so long as he fills out the fucking form. I think Confucius said that in one of his anal-lects.

  26. el_donaldo

    I'll point out that on Dylan's website, where this was posted, his Christmas album receives the same four star fan rating as The Times They Are A-Changin'. Don't know what that means; just putting it up there.

    1. Jerri

      That Christmas record is great, that's what it means. And if you happen to host your family's Christmas eve get-together, it can help chase the in-laws and their children out the house when you just want them to leave already.

  27. [redacted]hse

    I guess now's the time to recount the story of the early days, when it was just me and Zim and our guitars. Of course that was before he stole all my songs.

  28. BZ1

    Oh great, a Dylan call to action: "So I’m encouraging anybody who’s ever met me, heard me or even seen me, to get in on the action and scribble their own book…" Just what we need more vanity press books??

  29. James Michael Curley

    At a stop light in my convertable. "Masters of War" on the player, volume at 11. Police cruiser pulls along side. Leave stop light, police cruiser follows me. Pull into A&P parking lot. Police cruiser pulls in behind me. I sit there with hands on top of steering wheel, officer calls me over. He's about 30 and says; "What's that song? A lot of the guys sing it in Iraq. It's great (or something)."

  30. Numbat_Dundee

    I had to meet someone for as dinner in Beijing recently. They suggested a location and we met in front of the "Workers's Sports Stadium" and there was Bob's picture up front. So I can confirm he played in Beijing.
    As to his sucking up to the regime: there's an English language channel here in Beijing where any number of indigent journalists from the Anglo world make a good living spouting the government line. It's fun to catch the British and Aussia and Canadian and Yank journos all parroting approved lines and I hope they're paid well in this post GFC world where western news outlets are laying off staff. It's particularly heartneing for an ex Melbournian like me to see the former weatherman for the ABC Melbourne (ABC being the Australian version of the BBC) as the main anchor person – he was always such a witty weatherperson, now all he does is pronounce stuff well, but I'm sure they pay him well and I'm happy for him).
    Anyway, if Bob had in any way sucked up to the CCP (ie said that the Dalai Lama was a paedophile or sang a song in praise of Chow Mein as superior to KFC) then they would have been all over it like a rash. But they weren't.
    Still it's a bummer that I can't access Youtube,

  31. FraAnima

    Upfists for everyone in honor of Bobby.

    Death to the fascist insect that preys upon the proletariat!

  32. ulTIMum

    In my time listening to Bob Dylan, I heard him croon full faith and credit to (1) a psychotic racist Texas serial killer, (2) a vicious triple-murderer considered by some not guilty by reason of race, and (3) a brutal mafia hit man. At what point do I look to the troubled troubador to lead me in moral decisions of any sort? Plus he's one of the Jews for Jesus, and we are only the first…

  33. zappadoo76

    Inside the museums
    Infinity goes up on trial
    Voices echo this is what
    Salvation must be like after a while
    Mona Lisa must have had the highway blues
    You can tell by the way she smiles.

    Visions of Johanna

  34. skytrucker

    Somehow I don't think he means that (encouraging everybody to write a book about him), but then, it's Bob Dylan so you never know.

  35. MiniMencken

    I do remember being accidentally locked into a bathroom stall at the Houston Astrodome at some vastly historic, "final tour" Bob Dylan concert around 1977 and having to climb over the stall wall in my three-piece Yves St. Laurent suit, which I was wearing ironically to a Bob Dylan concert, and the rest of the toilet attendees scattering like cockroaches because, in 1977, only "The Man" wore a three-piece suit and it was obviously a bust. Good times, boozers, users and losers, good times.

        1. 102415

          You could stuff yourself into it and wear it any way. That would be way ironic. Especially if you went over the top of the stall to get in.

          1. MiniMencken

            I think I see your point, but my stall partition-climbing days are jus' blowin' in the wind.

  36. ShaveTheWhales

    You know, I think that twenty or thirty years ago (maybe in the time of Raygun), Bob came to realize that his tunes weren't going to change the world any more than they already had, and he decided to become "just" a musician, and influence change more subtly.

    I'm happy to see that he appears to have kept his sense of humor.

  37. orygoon

    I am happy to see that Our Editor found an opportunity to crap on Maureen Dowd, and I wish Our Editors would do so in almost every entry. It would make the hearts of real people soar. Hint, there.

  38. MinAgain

    Everybody knows by now that there’s a gazillion books on me either out or coming out in the near future.

    I read this sentence and thought, "Bob Dylan is gay? I didn't know that."

  39. bobby_dee

    In his next life, Stephen Hawking will be booed for plugging in. Pete Seeger will be a famous General sporting sunglasses and a corncob. John Lennon will opt for the forklift.
    The Bob will not be born again.

Comments are closed.