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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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Sunday, October 30, 2011


I've just learnt that the song Bono sang at Steve Jobs’ funeral was 'Every Grain of Sand'. How perfectly gruesome. The only one I'd have let him go near would've been 'To Make You Feel My Lurve'.


Anonymous Rambling Gambling Gordon said...

Don't think I could have even allowed him near that one either.
Will somebody please, please, please, please calmly take Bono aside, sit him down, and for as many hours at it takes force him to watch footage of every strutting, wide-eyed, misplaced-confidence-to-burn, last-word-in-rampant-narcissism performance he's ever inflicted on us, every in-the-news politician and charismatic national leader he's ever fallen over in order to grinningly preen himself beside, every podium he's ever groovily bounced up to in order to vouchsafe to the expectant planet his glittering words of peerless wisdom, every pair of wraparound aren't-I-just-the-damned-coolest-rockdude-you've-ever-clapped-eyes-on shades he's ever worn...then, with a generous pat on the head, get him to read (not recite, please) for as long as it takes the following lines from Robert Burns:

O wad some Pow'r the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae monie a blunder free us
An' foolish notion.

3:05 pm  
Blogger Michael Gray said...

A splendid rant. I hope everyone will read it. Especially Bono. And Bob.

4:36 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

Even worse, per Walter Isaacson’s bio, Steve Jobs never liked “Shot of Love". Apparently, he listened to it on the day he was fired from Apple Computer in the 1980s, and never grew to like it. But Bono is tone deaf…

Great rant from RG Gordon, btw

8:33 pm  
Blogger Dhiraj said...

Thank you for this great blog. I am a late convert. I have tried a tribute to the legend.

The elderly statesman of music has collided with forms ranging from folk to glam rock and many in between and has left them richer, altered forever. In every endeavour he opened new gates and redefined what can be treated as art. Dylan the unquestionable ‘poet laureate’ of the rock started with folk and transcended the form by owning it. He lent poetic nuances to the protest movement that was shrieking around him in early sixties. He was the reluctant hero who was seen as the voice of his times. Since then he has been conducting a ceaseless and successful campaign to break one rock archetype after another.
If interested please visit.

4:46 pm  
Anonymous John Carvill said...

I reckon Bono and Steve Jobs went very well together: a couple of pseuds in a pod, you might say. Just wish they hadn't dragged Dylan into it.

9:22 am  
Blogger Michael Gray said...

John, your snarl against Jobs seems to have sounded almost a lone harsh note amid all the reverent hymn-singing about him. I say "almost" because the Private Eye published after his death included this Number Crunching item:

$8.3bn Personal fortune of Apple boss Steve Jobs, hailed as visionary anti-establishment hero

$25bn Amount distributed to charitable causes since 1994 by Microsoft boss Bill Gates, who does not enjoy the same reputation.

11:45 am  
Anonymous McHenry Boatride said...

The eulogies for Steve Jobs weren't universal, particularly amongst afficianados of free software. Richard Stallman (of the Free Software Foudation) wrote:

"Steve Jobs, the pioneer of the computer as a jail made cool, designed to sever fools from their freedom, has died.

As Chicago Mayor Harold Washington said of the corrupt former Mayor Daley, 'I'm not glad he's dead, but I'm glad he's gone'. Nobody deserves to have to die – not Jobs, not Mr Bill, not even people guilty of bigger evils than theirs. But we all deserve the end of Jobs' malign influence on people's computing.

Unfortunately, that influence continues despite his absence. We can only hope his successors, as they attempt to carry on his legacy, will be less effective."

Seems fair comment to me.

12:24 pm  
Blogger Michael Gray said...

Thanks & hello, McHenry. Good stuff and a nice quote to illustrate your position. My problem with the freeware idea is only that intentionally or not it tends to encourage the notion that "Information ought to be free and therefore all writing should be free and all the work done researching should be done for free". Which is, as we literary critics say, bollocks... a pernicious view that directly affects, among other things, the small matter of my own economic survival.

2:38 pm  
Blogger Pope Leo said...

Well said, Michael. And of course the something-for-nothing brigade, as well as endangering your own livelihood, has been extraordinarily destructive - as has been noted elsewhere on your blog - to the music industry.

Not that I hold any special brief for Jobs...

...But then again I do like my iphone and my ipad...

An irreverent postscript: Weren't the Jarrow Marchers marching for Jobs?

7:58 pm  
Blogger Pope Leo said...

PPS. I'm glad to see that you read Private Eye!

7:59 pm  
Blogger Michael Gray said...

A slightly creepy Dylan-Jobs link has been cited in today's Desolation Row Information Service newsletter, sent in by Bobcat Jeff Gitter, who says he found it in the Daily Mail Online:

“He [Jobs] once dated the folk singer Joan Baez. A college friend believes he became her lover 'because Baez had been the lover of Bob Dylan', with whom he had long been fixated.”

If true, it's yucky, gives new meaning to the phrase "odd Jobs" and must have been a despoiling thing for Ms Baez to learn. But that "college friend" may be (a) motivated by jealousy and malice, and unreliable (b) misquoted by the Daily Mail or (c) fictitious.

I don't see why I should even care...

11:29 am  
Anonymous McHenry Boatride said...

I see what you say, Michael - but I'll bet this blog is running on free software. Don't confuse those who are willing to share their efforts for free with those who advocate, for example, piracy.

Without free software the Internet would not exist. Or if it did it would be just what Uncle Bill or Uncle Steve wanted us to have.

6:38 pm  
Blogger Michael Gray said...

I agree, McHenry, that there are people willing to do things for nothing - inevitably because they make money some other way (or have a private income), or of course they would starve. But I don't think giving things away online is any nobler or more interesting than people in the physical world giving away money or donating homemade jam to raise funds for worthy causes.

I know too that online, many generally upright people take occasional advantage of others' piracy, for example to hear or acquire music, and I feel there's a moral distinction to be made between them and the pirates.

Regardless of all that, my own objection is to those who feel, often quite belligerently, that writers shouldn't expect or ask to be paid, "because information should be free". And as I noted, "intentionally or not" the freeware philosophy tends to encourage unthinking people to feel that way.

As for this blog, I don't know what software is involved but I do know that while doesn't charge me to host the blog, it's owned by, which is owned by Google, which is vastly profitable and not giving anything to anyone without a commercial calculation behind it.

8:47 pm  
Anonymous McHenry Boatride said...

To satisfy your curiosity (or not), Michael, uses the Google Web Server (proprietary) running on the Linux Operating System (free). Yes, Google make money out of this and can afford to provide its services to you for free.

I'm quite surprised that you meet people who belligerently demand that you shouldn't expect, or ask, to be paid for your work. It's not an attitude that I have ever encountered.

Of course, you are writing for free on this blog but, no doubt, you make money from it. Apart from the advertisements it is valuable publicity for your books, your talks, and your weekends. The Internet has certainly shaken up the business models of many companies, not least book and journal publishers. (Having spent 35 years working for a publisher of technical books and journals I am well aware of the dilemmas posed by the Internet.)

To get back to the original topic, the objection that many have to Apple (and hence Steve Jobs) is the way that they have plundered free offerings whilst giving little back to the community. This is in contrast to Microsoft and, in particular, IBM.

Rant over.

10:34 am  
Blogger Michael Gray said...

Thanks, McHenry. Just to clarify: you say "I'm quite surprised that you meet people who belligerently demand that you shouldn't expect, or ask, to be paid for your work. It's not an attitude that I have ever encountered."

I don't mean just me, of course: it's widespread. In a prominent national art magazine two years ago a guy calling himself a "Media Futurist" wrote a piece addressing all creative people and arguing "Don't ask 'Who's paying me?' Ask 'Who's paying attention?'" and saying that the thing to acquire was "reputation capital"... as if you could take that to the Co-op. And this modish argument is widely advanced online by people with what might be called Messianic Futurist Disease.

But I certainly do encounter it individually: (1) a well-paid BBC producer rings me up to pick my brain for a programme that will be fronted by a well-paid presenter, and is shocked when I ask about a fee - I'm a writer: my mind should be on higher things, apparently (2) someone on a Dylan discussion forum asks how I dare charge money to have Bob fans come to stay in my home over a weekend and supply them with food & drink - I should be letting them come for nothing! (3) an editor at the Weekend Telegraph wants to include a piece or two of mine in a book of "great train journeys" they're compiling from articles in stock but tells me I can't expect to be paid: "I'm afraid there's no budget for the writers", he says. It's a book!. It consists of writing! . . . and yet somehow "there's no budget for the writers"! And this from a newspaper owned by the billionaire Barclay Twins.

As you say - end of rant.

4:38 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd rank Bono right up there with the "great" rock singers. Which is to say they can't even be considered along side Dylan. There is something about the attitude which began driving rock music in the 60's which encourages really bad singing.
With Dylan there has never been a doubt in my mind the single thing he was best at was singing.

Patrick Ford

2:35 pm  

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