Monday, October 16, 2006
Dylan Sunday - Theme Time Radio Hours #14-15
Bob Dylan, Theme Time Radio Hour #14 (Devil)
Bob Dylan, Theme Time Radio Hour #15 (Eyes)
We're going to pretend that today is Sunday and that I didn't just spend like 20 hours uploading a New Order concert. Deal? Good. Unfortunately, there's no way I'm gonna connect these two episodes in one of my typically witty way. Instead, let me concentrate on the first one, Devils, as I feel like this is one of my favorites and a good chance to discuss Bob Dylan.
As much as Dylan stands in my mind and many people's minds as a beacon of creativity and progress, he's also a deeply conservative man. Perhaps it's a result of getting older, perhaps anyone pushing the limits in the present turns to the past and tradition. I don't know, but there's no mistake that Dylan has a very negative view of modern times. He's spoken about the lack of value in current music, railed about the loss of soul and talent in modern times. There's an almost preacher quality to some of his thinking, a railing at modern man and how we have lost our way. Dig his comments in the liner notes to the Biograph boxed set, describing the song "Every Grain Of Sand":
"The old trades are still the most useful, can get you out of a jam. Everything is crooked now and the signs all point you the wrong way - it's like we're living at the time of the Tower of Babel, all our tongues are confused...People like to talk about the image of the new America but to me it's still the old one - Marlon Brando, James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, it's not computers, cocaine and David Letterman, we gotta get off that - Hedy Lamarr, Dorothy Dandridge, that's my idea of America...I like to keep my values scripturally straight though - I like to stay a part of that stuff that don't change. Actually, it's not that difficult - people still love and they hate, they still marry and have children, still slaves in their minds to their desires, still slap each other in the face, and say 'honey can you turn off the light' just like in Ancient Greece. What's changed? When did Abraham break his father's idols? I think it was last Tuesday. God is still the judge and the devil still rules the world so what's different? No matter how big you think you are history is gonna roll over you. Sound like a preacher don't I? To the aspiring songwriter and singer I say disregard all the current stuff, forget it, you're better off, read John Keats, Melville, listen to Robert Johnson and Woody Guthrie."
All of this is to say that the devil seems a perfect concept for Mr. Dylan. I think that he sees it in our culture today and in some ways the radio show is a chance to fight this culture, to remind of us where pop music came from, to bring the roots into view, whether they are gospel, blues, doo-wop or jazz, Theme Time Radio Hour provides Dylan a pulpit.
Oh, and make sure that you read these words and don't try to ignore them and talk about the 60s and protest music. This is just as much Dylan, can you take it?