Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Dylan's Nobel Lecture: Moby Dick, Russia, War... and Sinatra...

"I’ve learned to hate Russians
All through my whole life
If another war starts
It’s them we must fight
To hate them and fear them
To run and to hide
And accept it all bravely
With God on my side..."

"With God On Our Side", Bob Dylan, 1963

Heard this verse today in a whole new light.

That's the great thing about great art. It means different things to different people in different places at different times. It keeps changing. It means one thing here and another thing there. And all meanings are meaningful.

I continue to be amazed that American Conservatives, Republicans, Right-wingers were fanatically anti-Russian and anti-Communist from approximately 1945 until last year. Now it is apparently perfectly ok for them for Trump to be totally in bed with the Russians, namely Vladimir Putin, former KGB spy chief who was born and bred in the Soviet Communist system.

Here's Dylan's famous song about the John Birch Society, the spiritual ancestors of today's far-right - the Tea Party and the alt-right:

Yesterday, Dylan's Nobel lecture was released. You can read or listen to it here...

First of all, it's always a joy to hear Dylan's voice. How many times have we heard people complain Dylan doesn't talk in concert? I've seen him a couple of dozen times and could type-up all the things he said at those concerts on a single page. We heard him plenty when he was hosting Theme Time Radio (archives here), and it was good to hear him again expounding on literature, as required by the Nobel Committee, on the 25-minute recording. 

He starts by discussing a life-changing experience seeing Buddy Holly days before his death, and how songwriters are similar to and different from writers of books. Then he goes on a long, long, long discourse about Moby Dick, and I was just starting to think "What is he talking about???" when it occurred to me that this was more than a cocktail party book review - in discussing Melville, All's Quiet On The Western Front, and The Odyssey, Dylan is reminding us that his main theme is, and always has been, loudly declaring his opposition to war, violence, and militarization.

Dylan as anti-war, anti-militarism, anti-violence advocate:

1. All his protest songs

2. Specifically songs like "John Brown"

3. His blistering version of "Masters of War" at the Grammy's in response to the first Gulf War.
Charlie Poole & The North Carolina Ramblers - "You Ain't Talkin' To Me"

That brings us back to Sinatra...

Why, Dylan? Why? 

I don't get Dylan's Sinatra obsession.

I have a very different feeling about Ol' Blue Eyes...

The point is, instead of this Sinatra stuff, Dylan would be so much better if he were doing political songs based on traditional tunes... and so would we...

(To Be Continued...)

Bob Dylan Playlist For Beginners: The 20 Dylan Songs You Need To Know

Bob Dylan: Playlist For A Nobel Winner

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