[Marxism] A trailer: It's not the politics, it's the morals

Paul H. Dillon illonph at pacbell.net
Sat Oct 1 13:56:16 MDT 2005

As a prelude to a longer post:  the answer is -- not the politics but the 
moral and ethical framework that Dylan  provides that accounts for (1) why 
he was thought (incorrectly) to be the "spokesman of his generation" and (2) 
his wide and universal appeal.  And it's what he says, not what he does that 
is important, the depiction of Mozart in Amadeus, and Salieri's cries to his 
God against the linking of venality and genius come to mind.  So out out ad 
hominem before you raise your pustulent face.

It's an ethical perspective with a universal appeal.  Something about the 
universality of Dylan:

Example:  I was searching for the chords of "Dear Landlord" on google and 
came up with 534 hits for just one  rather obscure song.  But "Dear 
Landlord" is clearly one of those songs where Dylan expresses the voice of 
those who bind us through economic ties in which they have greater or lesser 
degrees of control over us.  It doesn't really express a political 
condemnation of private property, it just says that there have to be limits, 
it says: give me some space, I'm doing the best I can.  Don't lay your trip 
on me, understand where I'm coming from and I'll understand where you're 
coming from.  The single line "anyone can fill their lives with great things 
that they can see but they just cannot touch" provides an implicit ethical 
message about the relationship between anyone and what they own  --  
something at the heart of the ethics that pervades Dylan's songs.

The lyrics should be read more the way you'd read Hopscotch by Cortazar than 
the way you'd read Hemingway.  They aren't linear and each one expresses an 
specific moral/ethical framework

Dear landlord,
Please don't put a price on my soul.
My burden is heavy,
My dreams are beyond control.
When that steamboat whistle blows,
I'm gonna give you all I got to give,
And I do hope you receive it well,
Dependin' on the way you feel that you live.

Dear landlord,
Please heed these words that I speak.
I know you've suffered much,
But in this you are not so unique.
All of us, at times, we might work too hard
To have it too fast and too much,
And anyone can fill his life up
With things he can see but he just cannot touch.

Dear landlord,
Please don't dismiss my case.
I'm not about to argue,
I'm not about to move to no other place.
Now, each of us has his own special gift
And you know this was meant to be true,
And if you don't underestimate me,
I won't underestimate you.

About the universality:

I read one page of the search results (was only searching for the chords to 
play it on the piano after all) and that  included musicological analyses of 
it harmonic structure by a Dane and the following Russian website which also 
had the chords and words.


Now I'd like to be referred to any other artist from 40 years ago on whom a 
Google search might produce  the same quantitative or qualitative 

Paul Dillon 

More information about the Marxism mailing list