Beyond the Blurb: On Critics and Criticism. Published by Cow Eye Press

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the highway scribe

I thought the Dylan of "Don't Look Back" was intolerable. Sure, it's really not easy dealing with that kind of fame and a hectoring resistance to the changing times you're helping to bring about. You give D. credit and he deserves it. But I live in L.A. and there's little to differentiate the obnoxious little shit in "Don't Look Back" from a ton of obnoxious little shits now starring in "The O.C." or whatever. BD was the first of a kind, a spoiled young man having a disproportionate amount of attention rained down upon him.

Scorcese's piece was an utter delight to watch Monday night.


I've always found myself a bit stuck where folk music is concerned. Never having finished watching the Pennebaker doco, I can't comment on Dylan's antics but one should remember he did not invent the spoiled rock star on his own. Apparently the heroin bill run up by John Belushi and Keith Richards during the making of Exile on Main Street exceeded sales of the record. Und so weiter.

It's a good idea to move on from the music that spawned you if you can, though. I adore folk music, but it doesn't exactly stretch the brain or the voice. Been playing Return of the Grievous Angel, a Gram Parsons tribute, on rotation for quite a while and I made the mistake of recording Gillian Welch singing Hickory Wind twice. (It is a mistake, believe it or not, even though she is regarded with great reverence down under.)

We had a whacky book of mod church songs in the '70s which I was able to borrow from my local library last week - every second page a Dylan song, every graphic a statement about some kind of protest, every few pages a quote from Dag Hammerjskold, Teilhard de Chardin or T.S. Eliot. It was called, simply, "Travelling to Freedom." Aaah yesterday.


When I was a mere lad, I was deeply affected by Dylan and remained so until I saw him on TV occasionally (mid to late 80s) and his singing style seemed to be an approximation of a mumbling goat.

The Scorcese fim reminds me how great his music is —and I think Baez got it right. Dylan's a complex person—unlike the current pastiche of androids manufactured for consumption by the show business.

I've been listening to almost nothing but Dylan for the past week

By the way, the audio of Chronicles read by Sean Penn is worth a listen especially of you've read the book.

Jimmy Beck

Unlistenable indeed--and Dylan wasn't even the worst offender. That early Joan Baez quaver sets my teeth on edge a la fingernails on a chalkboard.

The other thing about Scorsese's film is that Pete Seeger emerges as a real revisionist historian: it was "just the distortion" that bugged him at Newport. Uh huh.


Watched the first half of No Direction Home on Monday night and did not much enjoy the earlier ballad stuff; when Bob and band kick into "LeopardSkin..." or "Ballad of a Thin Man" the film starts to move. The jumpy montage was not bad, and his commentary was interesting though more band-music footage would have been preferred.

The interviews with all the old folk people were mildly interesting. They seem like decent people if perhaps a bit naive: the Pete-Seeger social realism roots of Dylan (and other folk music) cannot be denied (and something like Masters of War is not merely some protest ballad) but Dylan moved away from that towards the beats and rock and roll and that was mostly a good thing. Blond on Blond however great, though is not exactly Coltrane: maybe close to Stones, Hendrix etc.

He was sort of an arrogant little freak however--not so much now-- and the f-n harmonica thing around his neck is a bit ridiculous, but I think he's as much a beat-jester as musician: sort of a stoned, rural Blake.


"Highway Scribe" writes:

"and there's little to differentiate the obnoxious little shit in "Don't Look Back" from a ton of obnoxious little shits now starring in "The O.C." or whatever."

It would take at least an hour to point out the various ways in which the author of this statement proves himself an idiot. Guess I'll pass.

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