28 sept. 2005

My confession: I'm not interested in Bob Dylan in the slightest. I can't force myself to watch more than five minutes of a documentary about BD. I don't even dislike him that strongly. Me tiene sin cuidado. I don't even lament the fact that he is significant to a lot of people, of which I am not one. He has cultural significance galore. I'm not interested in things that have cultural significance in this way, I guess. There is a lot of music influenced by Dylan too, and I'm not interested in any of this either, I'm sorry to say.

37 comentarios:

Joseph dijo...

That's too bad. But then I feel the same about Monk. I'd rather listen to Braxton or Ayler.

Joseph dijo...

Sorry, I don't mean to pick on you. It's just that in the last several days I've seen so many bloggers post anti-Dylan screeds (or don't-care Dylan confessions, which amount to the same thing) that I'm starting to wonder if anyone out there likes his music. There's a thread on Dissensus about this too. Why do people feel the need to shout to the world they don't care for Dylan? In what way does his cultural significance not interest you? Leave aside the cultural significance: what about the songwriting?

Greg dijo...

I'm sorry for you too.

Jonathan dijo...

I don't think an anti-Dylan screed is the same as a profession of indifference. How could that possibly be the same? For the former, I would have to know a lot more about him than I do. I'd have to care, most importantly.

There's a lot of things I am not interested in. Protestantism, for example. I don't care about wine. Football. We are defined by our indifferent zones just as much as our like and dislike zones. And what do you have against Monk?

Joseph dijo...

Something similar to how you feel about Dylan, I guess. Indifference is a fine enough sentiment. I'm just wondering why people feel the need to express this indifference so clamorously, which seems to point to something more than indifference.

Jonathan dijo...

Well, it's because of the feeling that we're supposed to like it or be interested in it. It's that virtual obligatoriness of Dylan admiration that evokes the contrarian in me. Among people of a certain generation and mindset, Dylan has a huge stature. For me, even though demographically I am in the same ballpark, though a bit on the young of the baby boom, this is something I've never felt. There is no charisma attached to this figure for me.

As to why anyone should be sorry for someone that doesn't like Dylan, that is puzzling. I don't feel sorry for people who don't like Coltrane. After all, they might lead fulfilling lives and derive satisfaction from 100 other equally pleasurable and rewarding things, so pity seems an inappropriate emotion.

Allen dijo...

I'm kinda with you (Jonathan) about Dylan, except somehow I'm pulled in. enough so to enter a comments box, yow. I don't sweat Dylan's artistic crises, his glories and falls, but I have to acknowledge him as an elemental fact. just as Ginsberg, who is much a poetic irritant for me, is such, too. there's so much Dylan material that it's hard not to find something of merit. larger than that, he's associated with a big hunk of history. that part of the documentary worked my mojo. the protest singer contrivance is so much hoohah, and yet it carried a veritable weight. so that, I mean, one wishes that there were a Dylan (21 year old emotional focus) protesting now. not mere protest, but resounding. I'm not ranking on you, because I've always fostered a large tepidity for Dylan, but I gotta admit...

Ange M dijo...

Bob Dylan is full of shit. Thank you, Jonathan, for not caring. I'd rather read Kenneth Koch.

Joseph dijo...

Of course he's full of shit. That's part of his charm!

Actually I'd like to read Kenneth Koch and listen to Bob Dylan.Not at the same time, naturally.

Tony dijo...

I don't care about Dylan either, Jonathan, but I expect to when I'm your age. Seriously. I'm "saving" him.

Laura Carter dijo...

I admit that much of what feels like my best approach to poetry (still sorting this out!) comes from rock & roll, & that I'm counting the hours until the documentary comes on PBS here. I sleep in my Egyptian ring every night. I wish I had been born earlier. Mythology floats my boat (esp. when I think there's something to it). One of these days I will learn to appreciate Kenneth Koch. As you might have guessed, I dig Rexroth. A lot.

Can we still be e-friends?

Laura Carter dijo...

PS What do you think of the Beatles?

Jonathan dijo...

Rexroth? We've got to talk about that...

Jess dijo...

I'm indifferent to Dylan also, give me Phil Ochs instead.

Dan Green dijo...

Actually, I'm not much interested in "Bob Dylan" either. (Dylan himself does a great deal to insure we don't have interest in him. The scenes in Scorsese's film from *Don't Look Back* illustrate what happens when an audience's interest is in the aura of the performer, or in his supposed political views, rather than his music. Dylan fled this kind of "interest," and he was right to do so.) I do love his music, although this is ultimately a matter of taste. If you don't like it, you don't.

Jonathan dijo...

Good point, Dan.

John dijo...

Dylan's a great phrase-maker and epigrammist and singer, only rarely a great record maker, and completely full of b.s. As a songwriter, his b.s. outweighs his keepers by some huge factor. I'm interested in anyone's disinterest in him; I admire it and sometimes wish I could emulate it.

Coltrane, Monk -- among the greats.

Koch -- eh.

Rexroth -- also full of b.s., but I like him quite a lot. "You killed him, in your goddamn Brooks Brothers suit, you son of a bitch," is a great, great line. Especially on record.

Since you asked . . .

Bachelardette dijo...

I almost agree with you, Dan Green of the great blog, but what do you make of "Masked and Anonymous," in which he performs his "aura" without an ounce of self-mockery? In everything he does I feel that it's *me* he's mocking.

Tony dijo...

YAY FOR KENNETH KOCH.

Dan Green dijo...

I avoided seeing *Masked and Anonymous* (as well as *Renaldo and Clara*.) I won't deny that he sometimes overreaches, often embarrassingly so--but so does, say, Neil Young. Both of them seem incapable of staying with what they do best. But this is probably the price to be paid for occasionally getting their best. I'd say that in making *Masked and Anonymous*, Dylan probably thought he was making a significant film, not just indulging in self-regard.

Joseph dijo...

I didn't see Masked & Anonymous either. It didn't look like a very good film & the preview scenes I saw w/ Dylan made me cringe. Agree that he should mock himself more...

Laura Carter dijo...

Oh my, here I have to admit that overreaching is what most interests me in art. Oh my. Sort of. Yes. Mostly. Yes!

Dan Green dijo...

When I said that Dylan and Young "seem incapable of staying with what they do best," I did not mean it as a criticism. Some of their failed experiments are indeed hard to take, but the experimentation makes their best work possible.

Aaron Tieger dijo...

I don't think Young's failures are due to experimentalism - he's gotta be one of the least experimental musicians of that class I can think of - I think they're due to crappy songwriting.

fwyhmhu!

Tony dijo...

Aaron Tieger!!!!!


Wash your mouth out!



Neil Young & Kenneth Koch for co-president.

Aaron Tieger dijo...

All I'm saying is that except for those few albums that got him sued - Trans, ReAkTor - Neil has rarely deviated from one of his two modes: loud, sloppy guitar rock (my favorite) or slighty sappy-to-saccharine acoustic music. He does both these things exceptionally well, but any clunkers - Sleeps With Angels, Harvest Moon - are the result of some bad editorial decisions and not "failed experiments" as Dan Green suggested.

peter dijo...

Profession of indifference? Do they have dental? Not liking Dylan (or Pet Sounds, or blah blah blah) is one thing, but the formal expression of that "indifference" is empty cultural oneupmanship (I'll raise you Neil Young!) unless put into context with some comparable phenomenon you do like, with reasons why you think its better. With examples. I can't think of a better example of Dylan's effortless cultural sway than that someone would feel that the public declaration of his indifference would be of interest to anyone. And anyone who thinks that Sleep With Angels is a clunker needs to invest in some Q-Tips.

Jonathan dijo...

I got 28 comments on this thread, so obviously my profession of indifference was extremely interesting. Since the average post here gets maybe 7 or 8 comments at the most.

Time spent listening to Dylan is time not spent listening to Coltrane. How's that for cultural oneupmanship?

Should I have to give reasons for preferring Coltrane to Dylan? Prove that one is worthy of indifference and the other not?

peter dijo...

So why bring it up? Time spent writing about how you don't like Dylan is also time spent not listening to Coltrane. And unless your registration of indifference has some critical basis other than the apples vs. oranges Coltrane/Dylan
comparison (time spent listening to Ayler is time spent not listening to Coltrane, too) what's the point other than the implied assertion of cultural superiority? Why else would anybody bother writing--using the word "I" nine times-- about something that didn't interest them?

Jonathan dijo...

I was listening to Coltrane as I was professing indifference to Dylan.

Joseph dijo...

Ahh, who cares. Dylan means something to me, Dylan means nothing to Jonathan, Tony, or Ange. We could probably say the same about a hundred other artists. I'm sorry I brought it up. But I'm still interested, Jonathan, in how you're not interested in "things that have cultural significance in this way." Just wondering what this means...

Henry Gould dijo...

A lot of folk music players are "traditionalists", because a lot of the interest in folk music is in the way it continues to be passed on, personally, individually, from musician to musician. Dylan took a lot of heat for starting out that way, & then "personalizing" his music (adding things, writing his own stuff, eclecticizing, if that's a word).

But most of the best folk musicians were also eclectic borrowers, amalgamators, masters at synthesizing different styles of music.

Dylan made so much music that a lot of it is naturally not so great. He tried so many things. A lot of it IS great. (& this is coming from someone who was never that enthralled with him in the 60s or 70s. I was more interested in the Byrds, the Stones, Hendrix, Janis Joplin, etc. not to mention other kinds of music. I was not that impressed with the guitar-playing, the singing, then. Only the harmonica-playing impressed me : it's very simple, straightforward yet original - nothing fancy, but effective.)

I'm not that impressed with Dylan as a "poet" either. But when the SONGS work, they really work - as songs!

Haven't read his autobiography.

My friend the guitarist Jim Chapin just got back from visiting his 84-yr-old uncle Ermile, a farmer in mid-Maine, who lives in the house he was born in, & plays dobro in a country band with fellow octogenarians.

Henry Gould dijo...

favorite album :

John Wesley Harding

Mike H dijo...

whaa? - its like - Yes,I too prefer
Frank O' Hara to J.S. Bach-
or Kenneth Koch to Bruegel-
I too prefer orange juice to Australia-
Martin Scorcese to macrame-
I've probably not made my point very well, its just that some of these comparisons seem a stretch... Is it necessary to compare Kenneth Koch with Bob Dylan, or for that matter John Coltrane with Bob Dylan. Does one learn more about something by comparing it with something else that is so disparate? I prefer Stranvinksy to clock radios, so on, forth.

Jonathan dijo...

Coltrane and Dylan. Two figures of the same period (at least with some overlap) whose cultural importance transcended the normal boundaries of the music genre to which they belonged. They both have some degree of "aura" for their respective admirers. I don't think this is a far-fetched comparison at all. My point was that Coltrane transcends his music in a way that brings us back to MUSIC. He is a musician of genius who also gained that sort of cult-like status.

Koch and Dylan. I think those who made that comparison are thinking of the claims that Dylan is a "poet." Once again, I think the comparison is valid, as far as it goes. Similar period of time; both are significant figures who have merited serious consideration as poets. I don't see that as at all similar the question of whether one prefers cactus to Wittgenstein. There's no possible entry into the latter type of comparison.

Mike H dijo...

I guess I was asking whether they really are competing for the same aesthetic turf, if indeed writers and musicians do compete in that way. From this thread it appears that they do. Is it nessecary to choose between one thing and the other? I like Dylan, Coltrane and Koch. And all three, including Koch (David Lehman et al.) have been mytholigized really alot. And you're comparing Dylan to one brilliant poet and one brilliant musician at the same. Like the final scene in The Hitcher with Rutger Hauer, with poor Bob being ripped in half. As for his being admitted into some kind of canon I think its moot. Its probably best to say that he himself is a song and dance man, like he said.

hudson dijo...

Phil Ochs? are you kidding? hes a classic example of a journalist songwriter. he was no artist. Bob Dylan is an artist. And artists know how to reinvent themselves time and time and he surely does. Always in the realm of a constant state of becoming.And they aren't really for anybody, except maybe the underdog. whoever that is.