On Bob Dylan at 81, in the New York Times.

Old Socialists reminisces…

If I recall correctly I first heard Bob Dylan’s Subterranean Homesick Blues’ on Lloyd Thaxton Popular Music/Dance Party on KCOP channel 13 , 1965, that its was a revelation, of a kind, is to understate.

I walked to Sears Compton and bought Bringing It All Back Home and played it, on my dad’s old portable record player : Strauss Waltzes, his favorite, I even liked them. I next purchased The Times They Are A-Changin’ to my disappointment this from his Folk Period. Followed by Highway 61 Revisited , Blonde on Blond , John Wesley Harding.

After that I went to Compton College, and Cal-State Long Beach, as it was known then, being a Highschool Dropout was … no more records, or even a radio, for some years. My interest in Dylan just faded into the background.

What caught my attention today was this ‘story’ in The New York Times, by Jim Windolf. In New York Times World ‘you’ have to be Trump, Putin, Xi Jinping or Ye (Kanye West) to qualify for bad press!

Headline: Bob Dylan, at 81, Still Gives the Camera What It Wants

Sub-headline: A new ad campaign for the fashion brand Celine highlights the troubadour’s hidden talent.

Although he comes from a time when musicians risked being called sellouts for endorsing products, Mr. Dylan has had seemingly no compunction about lending his image and songs to advertisements for Apple, Pepsi, Cadillac, Airbnb, IBM and several other corporations. Perhaps most memorably, he appeared, along with the model Adriana Lima, in a 30-second TV commercial for Victoria’s Secret in 2004. That appearance seemed to make good on something he said during a 1965 news conference. “If you were going to sell out to a commercial interest, which one would you choose?” one of the many reporters in the room asked him. “Ladies’ garments,” Mr. Dylan replied.

Mr. Slimane photographed Mr. Dylan in Los Angeles in December. In one portrait, the 81-year-old Nobel laureate is shown with an acoustic guitar. In another, he is playing a Gibson electric. For fans who have seen him on his recent concert tours, the sight of him with those instruments was noteworthy: His main weapon of choice of late has been the piano or organ. “Dylan’s been 99.9 percent keyboard-based for 20 years now, but he actually did pull a guitar out a few times not too long ago,” Ray Padgett, who chronicles his live performances in the Substack newsletter “Flagging Down the Double E’s,” wrote in an email.

To speak in the rhetorical mode of the very distant past: is Bob Dylan just another ‘sellout’? To reach even further back in time, a Clifford Odets, or like a Bud Schulberg, or even an Elia Kazan? Maybe these last two examples, too much? Or as my friend Sandy opined, Dylan was ‘just exploring new opportunities’, she, in thrall to Neo-Liberalism’s etiolated vocabulary, of the self-serving…

Just listening to Dylan’s Murder Most Foul almost 17 minutes of rambling lamentation: American Historical personalities, Musicians , The Zapruder film, Oswald and Ruby make their appearances : the reader can find the full cast of characters here. If The Reader was expecting “J’accuse…!” she would be – is it Dylan in his dotage?

Old Socialist

P.S. I forgot one of the most important political/propaganda figures, on the Warren Commission: Assistant counsel, Arlen Specter, who invented the ‘Magic Bullet Theory’, a fiction that became exemplary of Warren Commission Science.

About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer. 'Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.' https://www.lrb.co.uk/v15/n20/perry-anderson/diary
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