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02/22/09

“Dylan was not a passive lightning rod, an impersonal conductor of great historic currents. Rather, he was a navigator of those currents” (4). 

I think Marquesse expresses in this sentence what it is that truly sets Bob Dylan apart. The entire introduction is exactly what I think we as a class were trying to get across last Wednesday. We can’t say Dylan was not influenced by the industry– any musician is, even if it is by the fact that they choose to distance themselves. He was not apolitical, though he refused to take up a platform. He was counterculture, but as such, had a strong impact on traditional culture. All due respect to Dr. Rigelhaupt, I don’t think our unanimous appreciation of Dylan on 2/18 originated out of a desire to appease our professor. No, I believe it speaks to the fact that, forty years later, as descendants of liberals and conservatives alike, we recognize that his music did not infiltrate our young, vulnerable minds, driving us all to go smoke a joint instead of go to class. We recognize that his music, so shaped by the times in which he lived, still somehow applies to the lives we live. We can laugh at the music where it is humorous, enjoy it where it is real, dislike it where we find it somehow threatening, learn from it where it is educating, but most importantly listen to it without fear that it will drive us to drunkenness and mass hysteria. Of course, this is not a general appreciation present in Dylan’s time and for many people in the sixties, the controversy was the appeal. Still, as Marquesse asserts in the introduction, “self-indulgent celebration of [the] generation and of Dylan does [us] no favors. The legacy of the era is rich, but only if it’s examined critically.” It is not only the author’s conviction in writing the book, but is also our goal as a seminar. Watching the video on Friday, I was amazed by how relevant Dylan was. It sounds cliche, but for a person new, really, to the phenomenon that is Bob Dylan, I found it so interesting that everything we’ve studied up to this point somehow is incorporated into this young musicians story. He dropped out of college for many of the grievances students had against administrations in that time. On top of that, he just didn’t like it and had the guts to get out. He was at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. He reluctantly figureheaded the counterculture movement. And in just over five years after he first arrived in New York, he managed to link pre-Kennedy Assassination America to invading North Korea America. All of this through modeling himself principally after his idol, Woodie Guthrie, in a time much thirstier for something different. His work is personal, but carries so much weight in the industry. And Bob Dylan is nothing if not different. Marquesse’s work adequately, in my opinion, researches the factors and influences that give context to that life and that work.

~ by ssmith8 on .

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