Wed, 12 September 2007
I'm still thinking about Scorsese's No Direction Home - likely because I watched another piece of it, again, last night ... the "Meet the Press" section...
Dylan was the quintessential anti-interview in the 1960s...
Q - How many protest singers are there?
A - Dylan - About 136 ...
Q - About or exactly 136?
A - Dylan - 142...
He bristled and laughed at questions, and pretty much refused to answer them. Most of this was well-deserved - the questions were vacuous, even ridiculous...
If ever there was an example of the merit of I. A. Richards' advice that the creator of a work is the last person you should ask about the meaning of a work, Dylan in the 1960s would be it. This was the case with Dylan even when he wasn't being sarcastic. In an early radio interview, he tells Studs Terkel that "A Hard Rain" is not about atomic rain - it's just about something important about to come down. I. A. Richards would say that shouldn't prevent anyone from hearing apocalypse in that song.
So how seriously should we take Dylan's commentary that is the backbone of Scorsese's movie? Now in the 21st-century, Dylan seems to have little problem reflecting honestly on his work. Actually, I first noticed this in the excellent interview Dylan gave to Ed Bradley on 60 Minutes a few years ago.
The reasons for the change in Dylan's interview performances are complex and multiple, like everything else about Dylan. The questions today are not as stupid as those in the 1960s. Dylan in the 1990s began to redefine his interviews as part of his serious creative work - rather than part of his spoofs - likely because he finally saw them as useful on the path to understanding himself and his impact, which has always been his goal.
All of which is good for us.
Category:Music -- posted at: 2:59pm EDT
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