[Marxism] more on the Dylan thread

Greg McDonald gregmc59 at gmail.com
Wed Oct 26 02:57:15 MDT 2016

Marqusee argues that in spite of himself Dylan did make the world a better
place with his music.

Early on Dylan  seemed to be torn between emulating Little Richard, on the
one hand, and Woody Guthrie, on the other. He reconciled that dilemma by
achieving a synthesis. The interesting part is the reaction he got from the
hard-core folkies. The level of hostility directed toward him was simply
beyond belief. When he took the Band on his electric tour, he would start
with an acoustic set, playing from his early protest repertoire, and in the
second set the Band would come on stage and plug in for the electric part
of the show. But even that was not enough for the hardcore folk fans
addicted to "form".

In this clip from "No Direction Home", a fan calls him Judas from the
audience. You can see Dylan's reaction. He then turns to the Band and tells
them to "play it fucking loud".


In another scene from the same film, his coterie discusses what to do in
response to a death threat. Both Dylan and the Beatles were receiving a
multitude of death threats. Dylan had set up residence with his wife Sara
and her child in Woodstock. When Dylan caught word of the festival which
was to be organized just down the road, he lit out for the Isle of Wight
because he was concerned about people wandering around on his property. Any
crazed and disillusioned folkie with a gun could do him harm. Look what
happened to Lennon. So much for music "making the world a better place".
What does one do with a Judas after all? You murder him. Music seemed to be
bringing the worst out in people, not the best.

Here he is at the Isle of Wight. He was relaxed and in good spirits. The
Beatles were in the audience. Everyone seemed to be having a good time, but
Altamont was just around the corner.


In "The Last Waltz", Robbie Robertson was asked why the Band decided to
call it a day. Look, he said, we've been on the road for 16 years. Three
members of our group are already junkies. The new wave of artists seemed to
be more interested in breaking things up, but we were not really interested
in all that so we began to destroy ourselves instead.

In an earlier interview with the press after going electric, a reporter
asks Dylan if his new interest in rock music meant he was selling out, and
if so, what was his choice for achieving fame and fortune. Dylan responded,
"ladies garments". One of the first commercials in which he allowed one of
his songs to be used was an ad for Victoria's Secret, about a million years


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