Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Bob Dylan blogology 1

Bob Dylan blogology #1.

EDIT UPDATE: PBS is providing an encore presentation of "No Direction Home" this Saturday night. Check your local listings.

"No Direction Home", the film by Martin Scorcese, about the early years of Bob Dylan's career, made me do a lot of comparing his art to that of high level blogging.

Did you see the film? Part Two was broadcast last night, and Part One the night before last, on PBS.

It filled my television with a massive amount of information that could easily and quickly be applied to various aspects of blogging.

For example:

Dylan speaks, in old footage of early interviews, of his boredom with the stupid or rude questions put forth by MSM journalists. One of the questions was something like "Are the words in your songs sincere or mere posturing?" and Dylan expresses his anger at being insulted.

Much booing and deconverted fans grumbling. Backstage backstabbing. Cloistered clusterings and blusterings. Joan Baez dumped. Complaints that he will not conform to their idea of non-conformity. Very nice dish for deconstruction work.

The lefty folk scene felt betrayed when Dylan switched from acoustic guitar solo performance to a full "ridiculous pop" band. They called him "Judas". His major fan base turned against him, and he quickly skyrocketed in popularity with the general music buying public.

Protest singers demanded that he not sing any "love songs", "surreal circus lyrics", or cryptic poetry. They wanted only simple, confrontational political activist songs, worker's rights ballads, and anti-war chants. Anything else, from a "folk singer", was not "politically correct"--that stupid concept was already being enforced way back in the early 1960s.

Bob Dylan rejects the role of Prole Messiah. He changes his soft, comfortable, folk music sound to that of a wild, loud rock band or a happy, bouncey country-western ensemble. The hardcore Dylan devotees, many of them, plus many of his mentors, like Pete Seeger, hated his new musical direction and content.

Bob becomes metaphysical. He rejects his upbringing, renounces nostalgia, and aggressively seeks a peek into the Other World.

He claims that he was born "far from my true home" and his life is a hopeless attempt to return to that original home, whatever that may be.

He, like Rimbaud, claims to have "no past", no parents, no country, no agenda that he could possibly relate to. Dylan has leaped out of his social conditioning to encounter what is beyond, or alien to, the [transient, ephemeral] self.

"Like a Rolling Stone" was, according to this film, the battle cry that really annoyed the protest folkies. They hated that line about "all alone, on your own, like a rolling stone", i.e., rolling away from the cult, the herd, the clique, the folk music community. Individual eccentricity was frowned upon as opaque, thus, questionable politically.

But Allen Ginsberg could intuitively detect that Dylan was bearing the torch passed to him from the beatnik-bohemian culture.

Aggressive Individualism is what we see in the early Bob Dylan in "No Direction Home", and what we see in the early blog pioneers.

The blogger is an artist, as much as a poet, singer, dancer, musician, sculptor, actor, or painter. Thus, there's a great deal we bloggers can learn from artists in other fields.

"Every fight I ever fought, I fought it without regret or shame." -- Restless Farewell (from "The times they are a changin'" CD)

Later, I will present more blogological insights from "No Direction Home".


carrie said...

wish i'd've seen it. :-(

steven edward streight said...

PBS is doing a special encore showing of it again this Saturday.

Before I knew it was just Dylan's early career, I thought it was a slow moving show. It is a bit redundant at times, but overall it seems like a seminar in independent thinking and going against both main and minor streams.

Rebellion for human progress is the main theme I get out of it.

carrie said...

cool. hopefully i can catch it today.

steven edward streight said...

Treat for Deep Readers of VTG:

"The sound of the record made me feel like I was somebody else. Like I was born to the wrong parents." -- Dylan

"...too much improvising on his wretched harmonica" -- ex-fan

"...with that incredibly corny backup band" -- another ex-fan

"praise be to the holy ocean of eternity" -- Jack Kerouac

"I always thought folk music was about people, institutions, ideologies, you know...

...just uncovering it all." -- Dylan, while a clip of Odetta is on screen.


"Bob Dylan: No Direction Home"
A Martin Scorcese Film