Thursday, December 20, 2007

Fuck Bob Dylan

I’ll admit I do want to see Cate Blanchet portray Bob Dylan only because I am hoping she captures the disconnected loopiness and deadpan stare (masquerading as profound) that has duped so many generations. Blanchet is a wonderful actress and maybe the best person for the job. I am sure she is amusing as Dylan, or so I hope.

A few years ago I chanced a few scenes of Masked and Anonymous, which was more than enough to cement what I had long suspected: Emperor Dylan’s not wearing any clothes. At least not these days.

Masked and Anonymous is absolute crap with only Jeff Bridges and Giovanni Ribisi trying to elevate the thing. They seemed to be acting in an entirely different movie, god bless them. I can only assume I’m Not There is somewhat better, mostly since it is directed by Todd Haynes. But I hear Dylan waltzes into this film as well, picking up a check and all the accolades he claims he is not concerned with. This alone will keep me from seeing the thing.

I heard a snippet of “Ballad of a Thin Man” on NPR the other day. I can’t think of a better example of why Bob Dylan infuriates me.

I don’t hate Dylan, no. I just hate most of his art. He has a handful of good songs, or songs I enjoy. “The Man in Me” is great but I only like it because of The Big Lebowski. “Hurricane” is wonderful. Most of that record is, actually. And I do like “Ballad of a Thin Man” but the rambling bit about being a cow sinks the song completely. Dylan doesn’t know when to quit, damn him to hell. Here’s the objectionable verse:

Now you see this one-eyed midget
Shouting the word "NOW"
And you say, "For what reason?"
And he says, "How?"
And you say, "What does this mean?"
And he screams back, "You're a cow
Give me some milk
Or else go home"

A wonderful song virtually destroyed by some bullshit stream-of-consciousness lyrical masturbation. Unless Dylan actually wrote that verse ahead of time, in which case the Emperor is truly stark fucking naked. Either way, it’s the seventh verse, for Christ's sake. Clearly God Dylan should have rested on the 6th.

Seriously, that verse always strikes me as the sort of thing that only C+ art school dropouts would dare produce. And it angers me because the rest of the song is so damn good, lyrically and musically. Okay, some of the other lyrics are crap, but they’re inoffensive crap. And the music is stunning, partially because it is a multi-instrumental cut and not just Dylan fucking around over a shitty acoustic guitar and shittier harmonica.

I’m only bitching about this because I’ve managed to hear a lot of Dylan lately, in cafés and on the radio, and it has again made me feel so alone. (I know you feel the same way, niña. Gracias.) I hear Bobby Zimmerman, that posturing folkie, and I get really, really pissed. I feel like the pod people have taken over and I’m the last person on Earth still in control of my faculties, the one man who will not kneel before this shriveled and wheezy icon, the one person who sees something sad and ironic about Dylan selling his music through Starbucks, a fact that none of his zealots seem bothered by. Then again, those sheep would have to think to reach such a conclusion.

Punk rock rant done.