Saturday, March 21, 2009

Bob Dylan: The Harbinger of Doom?

Wonkette is officially scared:
What U.S. Horror Is Bob Dylan Predicting Now?

Bob Dylan’s got a new record coming out next month, and you should be terrified. Yes, the dude continues to make great music, but his past two studio albums were also Harbingers of Doom. Love and Theft was about America in flames, and then under water, and it was recorded in 2001 and released on September 11 of that rotten year. His next record, Modern Times, was released in the autumn of 2006 — it was named after a Depression-era Charlie Chaplin movie, as the stock market hit new heights and the housing bubble was just beginning to pop, and it was filled with grim songs of working people losing ground.
Wonkette goes on to quote Alex Ross from the New Yorker who has landed a copy of the Dylan's surprise album Together Through Life, saying:
The version I heard ended with the double whammy of I Feel a Change Coming On and It’s All Good — a pair that may cause listeners to detect a political undertow in this seemingly intimate, out-of-time affair. The chorus of the gorgeously lilting, almost Motown-like I Feel a Change could be heard as Obamaesque, although with a certain ambiguous regretfulness Dylan adds, “And the fourth part of the day is already gone.” (That’s apparently a reference to the Book of Nehemiah.) A Dylan album can’t end on such a half-hopeful note, of course. On the grimly boogeying It’s All Good, the singer dons a mask of lethal irony, surveying a ransacked social landscape and then adding, after each exhibition of desperation and decay, “It’s all good.” That smug little phrase has now been destroyed. Dylan’s protestations in the latest interview notwithstanding, some people may indeed come away thinking that the human race is doomed, although at least we go out with a crooked smile.
Wonkette points out that critics in the past have connected Hard Rain is Gonna Fall with the Cuban Missile Crisis. She quotes an expert that says Dylan performed the song for the first time at Carnegie Hall in September 1962 and the next month, shazam. Everyone's heading underground while Kennedy sends the fleet to Cuba.

Of course, Dylan at the time said no, no, it just means something's up. Yeah, right.

So now all of Washington'll be one-clicking their Amazon account to get the new album so they know whether it's time to strengthen the levees or head underground quick. Wonkette'll be first in line. BabyBlue will be not far behind. But then again, it's all good.


Larry said...

By a simple twist of fate, I just got my Amazon rewards coupon, and yes, I will be ordering the new Dylan album.

Anonymous said...

Any true student of history can pick up on the signs, we've been repeating the mistakes of the past. Some of the worst offenders being the sixties generation. But that doesn't explain Dylan's uncanny lyrics. I wouldn't call him a prophet, perhaps he's taking seriously things he's allowed to hear, or is able to read.. ? I can't claim to know, though because of his iconic stature, I wouldn't be surprised if he's told certain things.

Randy Muller said...

The Cuban missile crisis was in the fall of 1962, not 1963.

RWB said...

As I think BabyBlue well appreciates, one big reason that Dylan's songs strike the listener as prophetic is that they deal with things which are timelessly true. The truth always comes back around, as much as people and societies try to ignore it.

That said, I'll never forget what it was like hearing some of those "Love and Theft" songs in the wake of the attacks of September 11th, and no one can tell me that it wasn't a divinely inspired sign of some kind, and also intended as a source of comfort in some way to those who picked up on it.

BabyBlue said...

1962 fixed. Oops. Should know that since Red Ailes was one of the leaders: - sorry Granddaddy.


BabyBlue said...

Here's one, RWB - Mississippi off of Love & Theft - first song off this playlist: