DON'T FOLLOW LEADERS
And watch the parking meters. Turns out Dylan, Bob, aka Zimmerman, Robert, was talkin' blues about himself. He not only didn't want to be a leader of the now-neocon-dreaded "counterculture," he didn't even like it. Or so his new book says.
Bobbo seems to have been having it both ways: Reaping the fruits of success as an icon of revolution, while attempting to lead a "normal" bourgeois existance. But the freaky pilgrims his songs had inspired kept trampling on his begonias and knocking over his white picket fence, so he couldn't really enjoy his big piles of dough. Dylan, by the way, is supposed to be one of the wealthiest songwriters in history. His royalty checks from all those covers by other artists, and all the airplay of his songs, surpassed the Beatles and all of Tin Pan Alley. He was also supposed by many to be, at various times, a junkie, a Jesus-freak, a self-destructive biker, and a burned-out drunk. (There's nothing about any of that in the autobiography.) But inside, he was just another frustrated Dad, trying to do right by his family. Or, so his book says.
Success makes for schizophrenia, it would seem. Or maybe it's just that our impressions of pop-cultural heroes are based on false reports in the media; biased, adoring, self-serving reviews by critics; and our own attempts to read between the lines of books, movies and songs. There's the artist, the art, and the audience; and somewhere in between, a kind of meta-something that is like a distorted reflection: A scrambled transmission full of feedback from our own empty, echoing lives, which we had sought to fill with meaning from what we thought we saw in those books, movies and songs.
The really interesting thing is that, out of all this chaos, any coherent images arise at all. I mean, here, all along, EVERYBODY thought Dylan was the patron saint of cool, the god of hipness, the wisest, most insightful, most evolved being on the planet. OK, he was always a little weird, but that's because he was rising above us all to some new plane, some advanced state of consciousness, some new version of humanity. Turns out we were all just reading too much into his enigmatic lyrics and odd lifestyle choices. While we wanted to be Bob, Bob wanted to be us. Turns out neither and none of us knew what that actually meant.
I guess we could be comforted by the fact that our heroes are lost souls like ourselves, searching for meaning in a chaotic universe. Even the greatest among us may be only human; all of us imagining that the other guy's life is better than ours, even if it's a big star looking at one of us slobs out there in the audience. Is that what keeps us going, the dissatisfaction with our own lot, the desire for something different, the illusion that happiness is just beyond the horizon somewhere?
So Dylan didn't really mean much of anything by his cryptic verses. There was no there there. In effect, we, his audience created meanings where there were none. I wonder if we're entitled to any of those royalty checks? I wonder if Dylan is the best example ever of the notion that it is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to confirm it by opening our mouths? Or maybe he just meant that we shouldn't follow leaders. Really. And, uh, watch out for those parking meters.
And, hey, who among us guys wouldn't do a Victoria's Secret commercial? (As long as we didn't have to wear the flimsie undergarments.) Maybe Dylan IS human! Happiness is a see-through teddy! Well, she's got everything she needs, she's a lingerie model, she don't look back. (Cuz she'd see everybody lookin' at her BUTT!) Hm-hm-hm-hm-hm-hm. Sing it, baby! OK, so Dylan's an ASSHOLE. And you're NOT??? Sheesh!
Bob Dylan memoirs reveal unwilling icon of 1960s counterculture
Bob Dylan Publishes Memoirs, Vows to Speak Truth
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