January 9th, 2015
When I was about about twenty-one years old, I wrote a one-act play called “BOB DYLAN SUCKS”. Bob Dylan is the lead character, with support by Missy Elliot, LL Cool J and Art from Everclear who try to convince him to sell his soul and appear in a TV commercial for GAP clothes. I haven’t gone back to see what I wrote but I remember the end, a group song-and-dance number where Dylan overcomes any sense of self and throws in with the GAP people, culminating in a climax of the jingle “Fall into the GAP” followed by the cruel line “The times, they are a-changin’!” And scene.
I feel the same way about Bob Dylan the way old white guys feel about rap music. I did not listen to a complete Bob Dylan album until last year. That album? Self-Portrait, which is largely regarded as his worst album. Blonde On Blonde, Bringing It All Back Home, Desire, Blood On The Tracks? Nope times four. And it’s not like I hate the guy or his music. I just. . . don’t understand the appeal?
We got done playing and suddenly it was like a lockdown. They rushed you offstage. “You gotta get your equipment off, you gotta clear the area.” We looked out and saw this line of big, black Hummer limousines. Probably six or seven of them in a row. And we thought, dude, fucking Michael Jackson is here. They pull right up to the stage and it’s just Bob Dylan. Bob Dylan is in one. Two guys are in another one. They walk up to the stage. They play. They walk right back down to the limousines as soon as they’re done. The truth of it is, you believe Michael Jackson would have a ridiculous entourage because it seems believable. You would think Bob Dylan would just back amongst all the trailers jamming his acoustic guitar trying to keep warm with us. That’s the story, but that’s not the way it is. It’s weird and that’s the truth. What can you do?
That’s Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips on playing a festival with Bob Dylan. And again, I’m not a Dylan fan, but what does this guy think is gonna happen? “Hey, Bob, I write songs too.” What do you think is gonna happen? Some sort of hootenanny? Bob Dylan was being worshiped as a musical God before Wayne Coyne dropped LSD in his eyeballs for the first time at age eight. I tell you what would have happened: Bob shows up to the party and everybody starts acting weird around him. Then people walk up to him and thank him for all he’s done and he starts feeling weird. Every party feels like a lifetime achievement award ceremony when you’re Bob Dylan. I’d rather hang out in the limo if I had the choice.
In my ripe middle age, I’m going to give Bob a chance. I’ve avoided him all this time. The Colonel recommended Time Out Of Mind to me, so that’s the first Bob record I’m listening to that’s supposed to be good. I’m working on it. Watch this space.
One last thought. Terry Richardson (photographer) once had an exhibition called SON OF BOB, because his father was Bob Richardson, the famous photographer. Jakob Dylan never used SON OF BOB as an album title, which I consider a lost opportunity.