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Published 2 years ago with 2 Comments

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  • sashinator

    ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ [...] is pure, vitriolic schadenfreude. It is a song dedicated, in other words, to an emotion whose universally shameful status is revealed by the fact that only the Germans were brave enough to provide a name for it.

    The song sneers at its victim’s reversed fortunes but our uncritical, lazy sneering-along with it has prevented us from seeing that the song has come to applaud precisely what it denigrates.

    Mmh-k. That's not how I interpret it but I suppose it could be interpreted that way.

    What, then, does Bob Dylan teach us to see? Dylan, perhaps better than anyone, raises a smudged and shaking mirror to the shallowness and lack of intellectual ambition which have come to stand as our age’s foremost images of excellence. In Dylan’s singer-songwriting we can apprehend [...] easy self-satisfaction of the protestor who thinks constructive engagement is for losers and phonies.

    I see...

    Dylan’s music [...] is shot through with its insufferable smugness, from its inexplicable contentment with a handful of inanely doodled rhymes and empty riddles, to the performer’s blatant refusal even to sing it properly. His cracked vocal timbre, and habit of singing against the stress and flow of his own verses [...] articulates [...] the spirt of the adolescent’s stubborn refusal to realise his confused view of the world, and his place in it, is not a mark of genius but a waste of everybody else’s time.

    Hence the injured tone of much of Dylan’s songs, and his performances of them. His music is the sound of everything being everybody else’s fault, the music of the drop-out.

    So is that what should be considered 'constructive engagement'?

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