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Dylan Belittles Contemporary Rockers

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BOB DYLAN has launched a withering attack on contemporary rock bands in the programme notes for his latest American tour.

“I know there are groups at the top of the charts that are hailed as the saviours of rock’n’roll and all that, but they are amateurs. They don’t know where the music comes from,” he wrote, adding, “I wouldn’t even think about playing music if I was born in these times… I’d probably turn to something like mathematics. That would interest me. Architecture would interest me. Something like that.”

Do ya’ll think there’s some truth to this statement? Or is this just the bitterness of a man well past his prime and out of touch?

(I’m voting for the latter…)

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  • Eric Olsen

    I vote C – both. He may have a point about contemporary rockers not really being in touch with troots of rock ‘n’ roll, although this is certainly not universally true. But saying this should preclude them from playing music, or that they have nothing to say as a result is just stupid.

  • http://www.filteringcraig.com Craig Lyndall

    I think it is definitely true about those bands (mostly) that top the charts, but is this really more about the bands that are there or the fans that make them popular? There have always been smart and dumb bands and artists. Their success is determined by other factors than their mere existence.

  • http://www.markiscranky.org Mark Saleski

    he’s washed up, eh?

    what’s the last Dylan cd you’ve listened to?

    Time Out of Mind?
    Love and Theft?

    just curious.

  • Vern Halen

    Dylan’s earned his right to trash whoever he wants. Whether his trashing is valid is immaterial – it comes from a perspective that few of us will ever know personally. Any two or three years of his career is worth an entire lifetime of some other artists.

    He may have a point – I know some young, talented players, and frankly, music doesn’t appeal to them like it might’ve 20 or 30 years ago. They demo or independently release an album or two of decent & innovative quality, and eventually go on to something else – painting, film, whatever. Why stick with the sinking ship? Of course, maybe the ship could right itself by throwing some of the deadweight overboard.

  • http://www.rodneywelch.blogspot.com/ Rodney Welch

    Mark — Those are the last CDs he put out! If you’re listening to those, then you’re part of his audience.

    Dylan has always had a chip on his shoulder. He can keep mum for years about his contemporaries, and the n suddenly flare up. It’s nothing unusual.

  • http://www.markiscranky.org Mark Saleski

    of course i’m a part of his audience.

    i’m just not too keen on the idea of dissing dylan as being washed up if the ‘disser’ has no recent experience with the artist.

  • http://www.rodneywelch.blogspot.com/ Rodney Welch

    Gotcha. And besides, Chronicles is a HUGE bestseller for a memoir by a rock musician. And “Like a Rolling Stone” was voted greatest rock song in history a few months ago. And he still tours and people still see him. RJ’s out of the loop.

  • http://www.markiscranky.org Mark Saleski

    ….RJ’s out of the loop.

    or not.

    that’s why i asked the question.

  • http://www.mondoirlando.com Aaron, Duke De Mondo

    i don’t think Dylan is washed up by any means. Time Out Of Mind was amazing, and who’d a thunk he would follow it up with another equally breath-taking record, Love And Theft.

    I do think it’s wrong to generalise the entirity of popular music in such a way.

    wrong? perhaps. Washed up? not by any reckoning.

  • sonny

    he’s talkin bout his son, jakob and his band, the wallflowers ;)

  • http://www.thebmrant.com Matt Egan

    If he’s talking about hacks like Three Doors Down and Nickelback, then I’m inclined to agree. I also agree that he can pretty much say whatever he wants about popular music.

  • godoggo

    I love Dylan, but a lot of his stuff sounds pretty amateurish to my ears. Don’t know what’s on the charts (and except for a couple of very strange years in high school, rock’s never been my favorite music, anyway), but I’ve lately fallen in love with “Indy 103″ in L.A. Everything seems fine to me.

  • http://the-between.blogspot.com/ Joel Caris

    Oh sure, there’s plenty of trash at the top of the charts–and some decent stuff, as well–but that doesn’t mean the entirety of music is a waste at the moment. And saying that, frankly, is stupid.

    Out of curiosity–I honestly don’t know–was all the stuff at the top of the charts great when Dylan was in his prime? Perhaps there was plenty of popular shit then, too?

  • Eric Olsen

    another issue: Dylan has ALWAYS been absorbed in his own sphincter, doing his own thing, prodding his own navel: it’s the source of his enduring artistic strength. But as a result, what he has to say about contemporary pop culture, including music, is highly skewed and questionable.

  • http://www.rodneywelch.blogspot.com/ Rodney Welch

    Well, he does have a view we don’t. Take that into consideration, too. But I dig what you’re saying Eric.

    Dylan is also protective of his own turf, and I’ve heard Paul Simon say before that Dylan isn’t all that generous to other performers. (And when he is — such as his spontaneous enthusiasms for Marianne Faithful or Fiona Apple — it really seems to mean something.)

    I remember years ago when he said Springsteen “ripped him off” with
    i Nebraska,
    as if Dylan was the only one who could do an acoustic record. Hadn’t he ever heard of homage — what the hell did he think he was doing with his first album but paying homage to Woody?

  • Eric Olsen

    exactly, virtually no one is sui generis in popular music

  • Vern Halen

    “………another issue: Dylan has ALWAYS been absorbed in his own sphincter, doing his own thing, prodding his own navel: it’s the source of his enduring artistic strength. But as a result, what he has to say about contemporary pop culture, including music, is highly skewed and questionable.” – E.O.

    Never thought about it that way – but that’s a pretty dead on observation!

    It’s probably valid as applied to some other industry heavyweights, too.

    Never heard the “Springsteen ripped me off” statement, but I don’t think he meant it to mean simply that Bruce did and acoustic album – I would think Dylan was referring to some artistic angle – but I don’t know what it would be. Nebraska has its own weird logic, but I don’t see the connection to Dylan, with perhaps the exception of “Hollis Brown,” which would’ve fit easily on Nebraska.

  • Eric Olsen

    thanks VH – self-absorption and artistry often go hand-in-hand.

  • mark

    FWIW –
    That quote is actually from 2-3 years ago.

  • http://www.mondoirlando.com Aaron, Duke De Mondo

    aparantly Ryan Adams was at a party in which Bob Dylan was in attendance. Dylan sat beside him, leaned over and asked “so what the fuck is a Winding Wheel?” Adams shrugged. “I dunno.”

    Fave Dylan story ever – When in London some time in the eighties, house-hunting i believe, he wanted to stop by at Dave Stewarts place (from out The Eurythmics). He had the address on a piece of paper, got a taxi, and then approached the building. A woman answered, and Bob asked “Is Dave there?” She looked confused but said he was out, and would be back shortly if he wanted to come in and wait. He did. Dave returned shortly afterwards, to find Bob Dylan drinking tea in his kitchen. Dylan had the wrong address, and by some miracle, managed to end up at the house of another Dave, one who was a massive Dylan fan. Imagine!

  • Eric Olsen

    great story Duker – serendipity up a storm