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the pioneer of Dylan Studies; writer, public speaker, critic; became a Doctor of Letters in 2015 (awarded by the University of York, UK)

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Monday, June 19, 2006


Monday 19th June. English summer elusive as ever. Old friend e-mailed, saying this: "Wonderful weather yesterday - blue sky, warmth, sun, windows and doors open, shorts, gins and tonics, heavy scents of philadelphus, roses, night scented stock. Today? Gray, cloudy, jeans, cups of tea and the ironing. Two consecutive days of bliss clearly too much to ask."

New Dylan album in August: first new studio album, of course, since "Love and Theft". This one is called Modern Times. But since quotation marks were part of the title in the case of "Love and Theft", because it was taken directly from another work's title - Eric Lott's scholarly book of 1993, Love and Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy and the American Working Class - you'd expect the new album to include quotation marks too, since Modern Times is the title of a landmark film by Charlie Chaplin from 1936 - a last cling to silent film (yet utilising sound very slyly) and the last film to feature Chaplin's nameless persona The Tramp.

Also features Paulette Goddard as his companion The Gamin, a homeless young woman ("when you ain't got nothin' you got nothin' to lose"?). A comic film with a serious point, the film deals with the struggle of the misfit in an increasingly bewildering, dehumanised modern world. All very Dylan in its themes and preoccupations. And 45 years after Bob was first dubbed "Chaplinesque", he draws upon a Chaplin title: a film from 70 years ago.


Blogger Mary said...

Hi Michael,

Yes I thought of this too-about Modern Times being a Charlie Chaplin movie and the comparisons
of Dylan to Chaplin in his early days. It definitely seems a deliberate reference on Bob's part.

1:34 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Michael, Congratulations on the publication of the Encyclopaedia. As I couldnt get to the show I was hoping to get to Nunnington Hall. I had to go to Nottingham instead where I did have a quick look at the book - very handsome indeed. I was tempted - but I would prefer to get in from the author's hand even if i have to wait to JG Day. I look forward to the entry on JG and the GOGD with some trepidation?

1:58 pm  

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