Worth Repeating: Bob Dylan, Song and Dance Man

I’ve seen bits and pieces of Bob Dylan’s 1965 San Fransisco press conference before, but I gain a greater appreciation for it the more I think about the creative process of an artist. Art becomes so much more than what the artist intends, and I think it is a sign of good art when it impacts different people in different ways. Some of the questions Dylan gets asked are just so naive, but he really is a song and dance man. Check it out for yourself…

Some of my favorite quotes:

“Mr. Dylan, I know you dislike labels.
For those of us who are, uh, well over 30, could you label yourself and perhaps tell us what your role is.”

Well, I’d label myself as ‘well under 30’.  (Audience laughter.)
And my role is to just stay here as long as I can.”

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“Do you think of yourself more as a singer or as a poet?”

“I think of myself more as a song and dance man.”

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Reporter: How many people who labor in the same musical vineyard in which you toil – how many are protest singers? That is, people who use their music, and use the songs to protest the, uh, social state in which we live today: the matter of war, the matter of crime, or whatever it might be.

Bob Dylan: Um…how many?

Reporter: Yes. How many?

Bob Dylan: Uh, I think there’s about, uh…136.

Reporter: You say about 136, or you mean exactly 136?

Bob Dylan: Uh, it’s either 136 or 142.

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Worth Repeating: Keith Phipps on Unintelligible Lyrics

Great article by Keith Phipps over at the AV Club blog on unintelligible REM lyrics:

“Yet to see Stipe’s lyric laid out without any ambiguity, even for just one song, felt a bit like a shock…He sometimes sounds less like an active participant in the recording than a spirit haunting the song. It’s often not clear what he’s singing, and when the words are discernible they’re evocative fragments and not fully developed thoughts: “Lighted in a room.” “Calling on, in the transit.” “So much more attractive inside the moral kiosk.” They’re confounding. And perfect. And much of the pleasure comes from not quite understanding them.”

Read the whole article here.

And an early performance of “We Walk”:

Worth Repeating: On the interpretation of rock lyrics…

“At least one long and winding road to hell is paved with interpretation of rock lyrics. Writing on the subject tends to fall apart because lyrics make less sense to the eye than to the ear. Words are blurred and bent by the music that swirls around them. ‘A song doesn’t exist to convey the meaning of the words,’ the critic Simon Firth has written. ‘Rather, the words exist to convey the meaning of the song.'”  – Alex Ross, “The Pavement Tapes” (originally published in The New Yorker, May 26, 1997)