December 04, 2004

Bob Dylan on 60 Minutes

Tune in tomorrow night to see Dylan's first TV interview in 19 years -- according to this article. (I remember that, too! I think it was on ABC's 20/20, just after the release of the album Empire Burlesque.)

Here's a quote:

"I never wanted to be a prophet or a savior. Elvis maybe. I could see myself becoming him. But prophet? No."

He's using the term "prophet" loosely, of course, as in "social prophet".

And he mentions something that I've always found interesting about his early "protest" songs:

"My stuff -- (they) were songs, they weren't sermons. If you examine the songs I don't believe you're going to find anything in there that says that I'm a spokesman for anybody or anything really."

And there never was. Unlike say... George Harrison or Phil Ochs, Dylan never presented himself as an instructor, but as a storyteller. The message of the song was transmitted through the story, not with a preachy "shut up and listen while I tell ya what t' think...".

Well, there is an exception. It's on 1979's Slow Train Coming:

"When you gonna wake up?
When you gonna wake up?!
When you gonna wake up....
and strengthen the thiiiiiiings that remain?!!"

Back in high school I used to write socio-political lyrics in the most obvious and preachy terms. Hey, I was a punk rocker, and that's what we did.
Then that easy, angry style of writing was epitomized in the songs of a bands like The Circle Jerks and Black Flag. I heard them and I ha-a-a-a-a-ted them! (This was at the dawn of the early '80s "hardcore" era.)

I gave up on the future of punk and decided to look backwards, discovering, among others, Bob Dylan. The more I listened to Dylan the more I realized that I was doing it all wrong. Don't give a sermon, tell a story! It's much more effective, non-obnoxious and rewarding. DUH!!!

Anywho, tune into 60 Minutes Sunday night at 7pm EST to see an interview with the supreme prophet storyteller of the 20th century. He's pumping a memoir: Chronicles, Vol. I. Hopefully it'll be a more engaging read than Tarantula (1966).

Posted by Tuning Spork at December 4, 2004 07:12 PM
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