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Sunday, September 25, 2005

Yesterday a long post about life in our glamour profession, today some Dylanania; I'm getting back on track, I think. David Greenberg has a look at why critical consideration of the career of an artist that may well be a worthy candidate for Nobel Prize honors is usually constricted to its first six years. I've bitched about this myself-- there's a lot more there, and although I can't wait to see the Scorsese documentary, I'm pretty sick of "Blowin' In The Wind", and Woody, and the Village, and Suzy Rotolo, and all the rest of it.

"[T]he problem isn't just that boomers are influential. Even historians of the post-boomer generation (i.e., mine) don't usually assume deeply critical attitudes toward the 1960s. Although a few historians have recently done admirable spadework in such new research areas as how conservatism in these years gained strength (as the news media were looking the other way) and the international dimension of the youth revolt, such efforts are not the norm. Revisionist scholarship about the student left, for example, tends to be minor and esoteric—contesting, say, precisely which social groups or political organizations formed the center of the era's social activism.

Our generation has envied our elders' experiences more often than we've questioned them. Growing up in the shadow of the '60s, we couldn't help viewing the political involvement of the age as nobler, the culture and the music as more vital, the shattering of social norms more exciting, than the zeitgeist of our own formative years. Besides, bashing the '60s seemed the province of conservative cranks like William Bennett (and even he always seemed to be making it known that he once dated Janis Joplin). Younger Dylan fans today, similarly, are often more eager to revel in the chapters of his fabled story that they missed out on than they are to engage with the songs and albums of his that we ourselves grew up with."

Dylan contributes to it as well, of course. Maybe he's just cashing in, but he is the one who is releasing "Live At The Gaslight" and the rest of it. The sound he has now, on tour, is not something that can be heard in many places, and that's a shame. I mean, I like "Love and Theft" and "Time Out of Mind", but if you really want to hear something get the soundtrack to "Masked and Anonymous" and play "Down in the Flood"-- or "Cold Irons Bound". This is what people who have been going to see him lately have been hearing, and it is pretty amazing stuff. And there it is, buried on a CD with a version of "My Back Pages" in Japanese, and the Greatful Dead doing what they do to "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue", and a bunch of other stuff that would be sort of fun to throw onto a mix tape if anyone made mix tapes any more.

I'm serious about a trip to Stockholm for Bob, but if that is going to happen, it won't be because the Committee just heard "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" for the jillionth time.

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