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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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Friday, November 07, 2008


I did have - but suppressed - an uneasy sense of a possible subtext of sarcasm in Dylan's quoted remarks onstage in Minneapolis, and now I read - from the RightWingBob blog (which I never read but was pointed to tantalisingly by Expecting Rain on this occasion) - and this is what someone who does read that blog, and who was at the concert, has to say about Dylan's remarks:

Since I was at the show, I’m hoping that I could add a bit to your understanding of the comments Dylan made on election night.

What seemed to prompt him to talk to the crowd more than anything was Tony Garnier’s donning of an Obama button. It was Tony’s turn to be introduced and Bob started to chuckle a bit and said something like, “Tony Garnier over there wearing his Obama button (raises his eyebrows)…..Tony thinks it’s gonna be an Age of Light (chuckling)…..Well I was born in 1941, the year they bombed Pearl Harbor. Been living in darkness ever since……Looks like that’s all gonna change now (chuckling a bit).” Then he broke into “Blowin’ In The Wind.”

I cringed a bit at the time, not being sure what he meant, and knowing what the media would do with it: “Obama supporter Dylan says Change Coming.” I was 50-50 on whether he was making fun of the hopes and expectations of Obama supporters, or joining in. Which of course is his genius, but I found it interesting that my friend sitting by me who voted Obama took it as a clearly sarcastic slam.

Hopefully that sheds a bit of light on the comments. In any case, it can’t be left out that what prompted the comments was Tony’s Obama button. Apparently 17 years of service earned Tony the right to wear the button, but he didn’t escape some ribbing from the boss for it.

Ah Bob - you who're so good with words, and at keeping things vague.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am always entertained by Bob's proclamations, especially on rare topics, and the thorny issue of politics is one he has adroitly dodged many times in the past. Rightly so, in my opinion.

And yet as I found myself lifted with a rare optimism on Wednesday morning, the air of a real new morning if ever there was one, I was delighted to see Dylan had seen fit to comment.

Was he being sarcastic? Obviously, a lot of what he says requires a long and fitful spell with the salt shaker. It always has. But on this occasion, I really believe his words were sincere. He had, after all, spoken warmly of Obama earlier in the year:

"Poverty is demoralizing. You can't expect people to have the virtue of purity when they are poor. But we've got this guy out there now who is redefining the nature of politics from the ground up — Barack Obama. He's redefining what a politician is, so we'll have to see how things play out. Am I hopeful? Yes, I'm hopeful that things might change. Some things are going to have to."

So while I can fully understand the more cynical view offered by RightWingBob, I feel that if you put his words within the context of the above statement, you are left with more of a postscript than a put down.

[QUOTE: "Has Bob Dylan Endorsed Obama? Mercurial Songwriter Has Never Formally Endorsed a Politician", By Chris Francescani, ABC News, June 6, 2008.]

12:13 am  

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