Rapt attention

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Nobel poet

 colored by Robert Sommers

Sanoguy sent this over:

BH... this is a presentation by Dylan on receiving the Nobel Prize... audio recording of him reading his statement. You can read along with him as he speaks.

Pretty amazing! I am sure many of the Blast readers would like this. I hope you share it!


The whole literature, not literature debate is so much rot. Bob Dylan has more literary acumen in his pinkie than 98% of the serious writers on this planet. He has nothing to prove to anybody, least of all a bunch of literary critics and talking heads, many of them writing smarmy little bits like this stooge at National Review. Dylan bows to his betters: Real Writers, one Kyle Smith writes. Andrew Ferguson's smarmy piece in the Weekly Standard says something like "A few good lines and then he rhymes cheese with sneeze."

Pretty much swill and I think those people Smith mentions like Ezra Pound or T.S. Eliot would agree. Dylan's speech is a beautiful thing. I like this part:
The colonel, too, with his caviar and his coffee – he's another one. Spends all his time in the officers' brothel. You'd like to see him stoned dead too. More Tommies and Johnnies with their whack fo' me daddy-o and their whiskey in the jars. You kill twenty of ‘em and twenty more will spring up in their place. It just stinks in your nostrils.
That is good writing. Kind I like anyway. The whole deal is worth a read. The National Review flunky says that Zim's songs can't stand next to Homer, Melville or Remarque. Permit me to disagree. He has added words and phrases to the english lexicon at a measure so great there is no distant second. Blowing in the Wind, Knocking on Heaven's Door, Forever Young, Simple Twist of fate, when your words grab hold of real people, indelibly, for all time, than you have succeeded as an artist. Sentences and songs that had rhythm and meter and stood on their own two legs.

Then there is this lady at the Federalist. Using Dylan in her stupid narrative so that she can engage in her little culture war. Here's the lengthy title of her screed -

In Reluctant Nobel Acceptance, Bob Dylan Tells His Worshippers To Chill

Bob Dylan is the Boomer Beyoncé— moments of true genius imbued by a generation with cultural significance that demands fealty and is aghast at the slightest criticism.

Do you get it? Dylan is the poet laureate for the generation that had its way in the 1960's when these right wing conservatives' idealogical platform had lost its hold in the public marketplace and was left for dead. We are certainly listening to a lot more Bob Dylan than Lee Greenwood or Pat Boone. He was a threat to the power structure, the same altar that the folks at the Standard, National Review and Federalist still worship at. And her cheap shot is that the left can't stand criticism, which come to think of it, would make them no different than the right!

Isn't it strange that these people even feel the need to comment on Dylan? Its like Scott Pruitt talking about all the environmental progress we have made over the last thirty years, with the funny irony that the only way progress was achieved was to fight the Scott Pruitts of the world the whole time.  

Dylan is too incredibly gifted than to argue the merits of his artistry with these sorts of critics but he does answer obliquely. He does not place himself on the mantle with the giants but he does take the time here to let the audience know what he himself considers great literature, the Odyssey, Moby Dick, All Quiet on the Western Front.
So what does it all mean? Myself and a lot of other songwriters have been influenced by these very same themes. And they can mean a lot of different things. If a song moves you, that's all that's important. I don't have to know what a song means. I've written all kinds of things into my songs. And I'm not going to worry about it – what it all means. When Melville put all his old testament, biblical references, scientific theories, Protestant doctrines, and all that knowledge of the sea and sailing ships and whales into one story, I don't think he would have worried about it either – what it all means.
The problem with Dylan is that he really doesn't write for the ignorant. His words cut like a dagger like fireflies in june like the granite on Rushmore or butterscotch ripple.

If you write you need to listen to rhythm. I can try to edit something and reread and reread. But the first time you write and then read it out loud, the editing becomes so clear, unnecessary syllables jump out at you and if you reread it, it will write itself, in proper meter. Words have always been connected to sounds, think of the word dictionary, no diction, no words.

Dylan speaks or sings poetry, pretty much every song. Lines with perfect weight, and even meaning, at least for some.

I don't know what passes for real literature these days? Is it still the Oates and Didion types? Roth, Bellow, I have no clue...

Those types never did it for me. My taste runs nearer to Bobs, old classics that have stood the test of time, Twain and Stevenson and Homer and Conrad. Not the guys in the corduroy jackets.

Bob Dylan is not a god. He is a writer. Arguably the best songwriter of his generation. Prine writes different, more real people, less apocryphally. A very small handful of others in this club.

Whatever touches you, there is no right way of writing or receiving. You get somebody or you don't. It is not a contest. And I seriously doubt Dylan cares about rewards or titles or which club he belongs to at this stage of his life.

I have seen Bob Dylan twelve to fifteen times. He can be present or not, depending on his whim. When he is on and everything clicks, it is a truly beautiful and powerful thing. Thanks Bob.


Sanoguy said...

Thanks for all of this, BH. I thought his speech was pretty amazing.

Max Hall said...

Thanks for sharing Sanoguy. Loved your take on this Rob. Well done.

Anonymous said...

You can't please everybody so you've got to please yourself. Said Ricky Nelson. All of the talking heads in the world could not make me like Mr. Dylan any less. Tangled up in blue, shelter from the storm, girl from North County fair. We like what we like. ✌️️✌️️
Deli guy.

Anonymous said...

OK so I went back and read his Nobel speech and I think it would make an amazing song he just writes the way of mind rambles.
Deli guy

Unknown said...

Bob who?

Anonymous said...

"when the foot of pride comes down there ain't no goin' back"