Bob Dylan Finally Gets To Vietnam

Bob Dylan finally got to Vietnam this weekend, where he performed in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon.)

The set list was vetted by the Government but none were rejected. Dylan also played in Shanghai and Beijing.

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    Way too harsh (5.00 / 3) (#9)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Apr 11, 2011 at 01:25:34 AM EST
    Bob Dylan has never been one to voice his politics. Just because he writes protest songs doesn't make him a spokesman. He's a musician and an artist. He doesn't owe anyone anything else.

    From an interview in 2009 he has on his website:

    What's your take on politics?

    DYLAN: Politics is entertainment. It's a sport. It's for the well groomed and well heeled. The impeccably dressed. Party animals. Politicians are interchangeable.

    FLANAGAN: Don't you believe in the democratic process?

    DYLAN: Yeah, but what's that got to do with politics? Politics creates more problems than it solves. It can be counter-productive. The real power is in the hands of small groups of people and I don't think they have titles.

    He likes being on stage. His life is touring. And he reads. He read Obama's Dreams of My Father and thought he'd be okay as President. If you read the quotes it has nothing to do with Obama's politics. He was intrigued by Obama's story and liked his writing style.

    What in his book would make you think he'd be a good politician?

    Well nothing really. In some sense you would think being in the business of politics would be the last thing that this man would want to do.

    Do you think he'll make a good president?
    I have no idea. He'll be the best president he can be. Most of those guys come into office with the best of intentions and leave as beaten men.

    ...Did you ever read any other presidential autobiographies?

    Yeah, I read Grant's.

    I've seen him a few times in the last decade. There were shows where he mumbled his way through and others where he was great.

    He's a legend for his song-writing and his endurance. He's written some of the best lyrics out there. To demand he do more and adopt the politcal agenda people read into his protest music is a little much.

    I hope he has a lot of fun on his Asian tour. He's worked hard for decades and deserves it.

    P.S. Have any of you noticed that TalkLeft's "tag line" since 2002 has been the  line from Subterranean Homesick Blues, "The pump don't work cause the vandals took the handles."  (See the bottom right of the site). Criminal defense lawyers love that line, and I'd bet it means something different to us than it did to Dylan when he wrote it. That's part of his genius -- we get to put the meaning to his words, and the meaning can be different for everyone listening, and may or may not be what he was thinking of when he wrote it.

    He has had a 50+ year career (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by ruffian on Mon Apr 11, 2011 at 06:45:17 AM EST
    of continuous creativity. Of course not all of his music is going to be liked by all. He could easily have rested on his laurels 30 years ago, but he has kept being creative. Of course all of his works are not top notch, but I can pick out songs from nearly every album that stand up against anything he did in the 60s and are on my regular playlists along with the classics.

    His political themed songs capture and describe the moment or political idea, and were adopted by activists. Did he ever describe himself as an activist? I don't think so - he is a troubadour.

    I've always loved the tagline. Sums up a world of disfunction.


    We deify our great artists.... (5.00 / 2) (#12)
    by kdog on Mon Apr 11, 2011 at 08:10:06 AM EST
    and then whine about their fallibility.  

    Artists have a fine line to walk...working with tyrants to expose the people under their thumb to your art.  I see both sides but at the end of the day it's a personal choice for the artist.  And as always ya gotta seperate the artist from the art...it in no way should effect how you feel about the art.  If ya let it you're gonna miss out on a ton of great art created by flawed human beings.


    Well said kdog. (none / 0) (#13)
    by jeffinalabama on Mon Apr 11, 2011 at 08:12:18 AM EST
    We tear down those that we build up. For someone like Bob Dylan, he has seemed above the fray... something to be learned from watching his behavior!

    Dylan... (none / 0) (#14)
    by kdog on Mon Apr 11, 2011 at 08:30:34 AM EST
    never seemed to need or feed on adulation like some other artists...he doesn't give a sh*t about what the peanut gallery is saying.

    Biggest folk singer in the world plugs in?  The booing got so bad and so nasty (Judas!)...Levon even quit the European tour...but Dylan treaded on, and lucky for us.


    Even a stopped clock....... (none / 0) (#25)
    by NYShooter on Mon Apr 11, 2011 at 02:55:14 PM EST
    I learned things from her op-ed I didn't know before, and as I said before, I couldn't care less about anything other than his songs/music. My gawd, If an artist's personal life determined what I listened to, or watched, I'd be a hermit. But, one shouldn't take the unfair leap that talking about stuff automatically makes you an advocate, one way or the other. You know, FYI, and all that? (btw, not referring to you)

    Anyway, if you remember, a while ago, before you got the gig you're leaving now, we corresponded about prospects for work for you? Luckily you found work on your own. But, once again, since you mentioned California, my brother lives in Palo Alto, and may be somewhat connected (Harvard, MIT, Berkeley, Stanford). So, if you end up dry, I might be able to steer you towards some possibilities.

    Good luck man.  


    Thanks, shooter. (none / 0) (#26)
    by jeffinalabama on Mon Apr 11, 2011 at 05:24:39 PM EST
    Your brother might know of some soft money positions, research type-- I can do major league statistics, if that's a help.

    Interesting, (none / 0) (#28)
    by NYShooter on Mon Apr 11, 2011 at 06:33:23 PM EST
    His phd was in theoretical nuclear physics, and planned a career in pure research, but after getting married his wife said, "screw research," the money's on Wall St. So he went to work for IBM, rose up to "mahogany row" and then left to become a quite successful venture capitalist. (teemed up with Chinese big money)

    Anyway, he's "retired" now, but still keeps his hands in helping a friend who owns a hedge fund. I guess, with all the algorithms being created, statisticians would be in demand. But, I'm not sure.

    Anyway, just a thought. See how you make out on your own, but if you need help I would simply find out if there are any opportunities in my brother's circles and if they're taking applications.

    Again, good luck


    FTR, (none / 0) (#19)
    by shoephone on Mon Apr 11, 2011 at 01:01:12 PM EST
    I've never deified Dylan or anyone other musician. Maybe that's because I was a working musician for so many years, and I know first-hand that some of the "greats" really are wonderful, giving people, and some of them are pure a-holes that you wouldn't leave alone with your children for five seconds.

    And though a lot of famous musicians do sell out (Ringo's Mastercard commercials still make me gag) it is simply not true that they ALL sell out in the end. Did Neil Young sell permission to the Bank of Montreal to use his songs in its advertising campaigns? No, he did not. Dylan did that. But apparently, Dylan is not to be criticized on this blog (diefication, after all?)

    Maybe Neil is in a class by himself. I don't know.


    It's cool.. (none / 0) (#21)
    by kdog on Mon Apr 11, 2011 at 02:22:36 PM EST
    just a general point that one is missing out if they let their feelings about the person interfere with their feelings about the art.

    As a musician, I'm sure you don't...great music is too precious to let the person get in the way of its appreciation.  You're just not a huge fan of the man or his art, or at least his later work...that is allowed:)

    Example...I think Robbie Robertson has become a raging Hollywood douche, but it hasn't diminished my love and admiration for his work with The Band in the slightest...as mind blowing as ever.  


    Sorry kdog, you totally misunderstand me (none / 0) (#22)
    by shoephone on Mon Apr 11, 2011 at 02:33:47 PM EST
    As I stated in another comment, I love Dylan's music pre-1979. Pretty much all of it, and I happen to have a lot of it in my collection.

    You're right -- I am able to separate the man from his music. (If I couldn't do that, I would never be able to listen to Miles Davis, supreme a-hole that he was). The fact that Dylan has been a sell-out and a phony for so many years is something I can separate from everything from "Bringing it all Back Home" to "Blood on the Tracks." But I don't think that means I shouldn't be permitted to acknowledge the phony, sell-out stuff.

    As for Robbie Robertson... I won't even go there! ;-) In the interest of separating the man from his music, I'll just say that "Storyville" is still one of my all-time favorite albums, and leave it at that.


    I think thats what I said... (none / 0) (#23)
    by kdog on Mon Apr 11, 2011 at 02:46:31 PM EST
    you're not a fan of the man and his later post-1979 work...nothing wrong with that, all questions of opinion and taste.

    We're on the same page pal...my comment probably should have been a stand alone and not a reply:)


    Louis Jordan is an example (none / 0) (#27)
    by jeffinalabama on Mon Apr 11, 2011 at 05:28:27 PM EST
    I use of someone I wouldn't invite to dinner, but by golly, love the music and the show. David Clayton-Thomas of Blood Sweat and Tears, I've read, was an egotistical jerk. I still love his version of "And When I Die."

    But neither of these fellows was the spokesman of a generation or movement, even if drafted into the position, so I don't know IF my comments are valid.


    Well coming out of the (none / 0) (#24)
    by brodie on Mon Apr 11, 2011 at 02:48:05 PM EST
    folk music scene in the 60s and having written a fair amount of protest or social-commentary music, Dylan sort of set himself up to be criticized if he failed to be consistent with his music in his personal life.

    The 60s by itself almost set up those expectations.  Certainly if you a musical artist who produced more than just fluffy, empty sugar-pop music for the masses, which he definitely did not.

    Curious fellow, and not altogether someone I've ever felt the warm and fuzzies about.  For sure, it was always first his music, but I always missed with him getting a clearer picture of who he was as a person, or rather, too often seeing a rather negative picture, someone seemingly deeply conflicted about his fame, who always seemed greatly annoyed to be interviewed, and who might have been a serious head case to boot.  Always scowling, rarely smiling, and that voice that was hard to take in long stretches.

    Lots of great songs though, even if many were only the barebones outlines that were left to other artists to fully flesh out in the musical possibilities and make accessible to more people.


    I Love Dylan (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by ScottW714 on Mon Apr 11, 2011 at 09:58:49 AM EST
    I have to about 10 shows and either he is spot-on or way off.

    He's always had an indifference to politics, but people expect far more because his music is anything but politically indifferent.

    Still something hard for me, a hug fan, to reconcile.  How does one write 'Masters of War' and then be so nonchalant about actual wars.  Or write 'License to Kill' and be so indifferent to environmental and corporate greed.  If I were to guess, he simply doesn't want the attention one gets speaking their mind.  So he he does it through music/lyrics.  Just an opinion.

    The other thing is the sellout angle.  I hate the word the begin with, but for musicians I think it's the natural progression.  When you're young, you look at the world through different eyes than when you are older.  I can't think of an artist that hasn't been labeled a sellout who's been in the business for 20+ years.  But all of us, and especially musicians, run out of fight.  It's hard to write about inequality and hatred of power from your ocean side mansion.  

    The only people who aren't labeled sellouts are dead or the band dismantled.  There are exceptions, but when I hear someone say sellout, I roll my eyes, because it's the laziest of lazy thinking.

    I will end with my favorite lyric.  People who know me from here will appreciate it even more.

    Now, he's hell-bent for destruction, he's afraid and confused
    And his brain has been mismanaged with great skill
    All he believe are his eyes
    And his eyes, they just tell him lies.


    Powerlessness breeds indifference... (none / 0) (#20)
    by kdog on Mon Apr 11, 2011 at 01:38:03 PM EST
    Artist sees world, writes from their perception...Artist can't change world, becomes indifferent.

    Every time Dylan goes on tour (none / 0) (#1)
    by Peter G on Sun Apr 10, 2011 at 05:32:53 PM EST
    he seems to reinvent his songs.  I really like that about him.  This version of "Like a Rolling Stone," for example, is not at all like the original single and album version, nor very much like the wonderful "Rolling Thunder" version from the '70s as heard on the fabulous "Live at Budokon" album.  After 45 years or so, he is not and never has been in a rut.

    Maureen Dowd (none / 0) (#2)
    by NYShooter on Sun Apr 10, 2011 at 06:23:11 PM EST
    today's NYT, rips him to shreds

    As a child of the 60's, I grew up with Dylan. Can't say I'm a student of his music although I liked most of his offerings, some more than others.

    Dowd's op-ed......pretty brutal.


    Maureen who? (5.00 / 2) (#15)
    by andgarden on Mon Apr 11, 2011 at 08:56:41 AM EST
    Heh. O'Hara? (none / 0) (#16)
    by jeffinalabama on Mon Apr 11, 2011 at 09:56:37 AM EST
    A great actress. Stapleton also. McCormic from the Brady Bunch? meh...

    but Dowd? She's getting bitter and angry. I guess she needs to hold her gun and her bible...


    That's Dowd's specialty... (none / 0) (#3)
    by christinep on Sun Apr 10, 2011 at 07:05:30 PM EST
    tearing people up. Too bad. Bob Dylan is truly sui generis.  

    When I went off to college (lo those many years ago) I took one record--that thing that we had in those days--with me. It was the Freewheelin' Bob Dylan. Ah yes. Of all the people who gave concerts...we always managed to get to his. One of my favorite was one in Ft. Collins, Colorado where my sister, her friend, & myself sat for 5 hrs in hefty trash bags because it was raining. That concert in the 70s became "A Hard Rain is Gonna Fall" concert...a great exploratory time for him as he was reunited with Joan Baez.

    But, enough reverie for me. He does keep ahead by a pace or two or more. He keeps changin'.  And, the Vietnam visit...the Times They Are A'Changin.


    What do you mean, "rips"? (none / 0) (#4)
    by Peter G on Sun Apr 10, 2011 at 07:50:04 PM EST
    Personally?  Musically?  In general, like as to his whole life and career, or as to this particular China/Vietnam tour, or what?  (You didn't offer a link, and I'm not going to waste one of my 20 free looks a month at nyt-dot-com for this.)  Live at Budokan was released in 1979, by the way, and recorded in 1978.

    O.K. Sorry (none / 0) (#6)
    by NYShooter on Sun Apr 10, 2011 at 08:26:35 PM EST
    She was referring to his recent concerts in China and to his submission of their censorship. I guess her thesis was that he's always been a sellout, never believed in the messages his songs promoted, and would have been a jazz singer if that was what was marketable at the time.

    I couldn't care less about that, never cared about a performer's personal life. As I said before, I grew up with Dylan, enjoyed most of his stuff, and that's about it.

    If you found something offensive in my post, I apologize.

    NYT, Dowd link


    His music has been cr@p for over 30 years (none / 0) (#5)
    by shoephone on Sun Apr 10, 2011 at 07:58:05 PM EST
    Even John Lennon said he was a hypocrite. "Desire" was Dylan's last good album -- from 1976! And he was always a phony and a sell-out. Can't stomach MoDo most of the time, but she's right about this. And David Hadju's book "Positively Fourth Street" tells the truth about Dylan.

    "good album" is of course a (none / 0) (#11)
    by ruffian on Mon Apr 11, 2011 at 06:49:01 AM EST
    subjective judgement, though I know we all have strong opinions about music.

    You guys are kinda harsh (none / 0) (#7)
    by oculus on Sun Apr 10, 2011 at 08:57:51 PM EST
    Dylan sd.he visited Woody Guthrie in the hospital. That seems to demo a good heart.

    Yes, he visited him (none / 0) (#8)
    by shoephone on Sun Apr 10, 2011 at 09:05:30 PM EST
    Dylan had been mimicking Woody Guthrie since he was a teenager. It was his schtick.

    I'm not going to continue on this thread, because I know far too much about Dylan, and while I loved a lot of his music from the 60's and 70's, I am not someone who idolizes him as a person. (Understatement.)

    Time to eat dinner and watch 60 Minutes.

    Great song writer (none / 0) (#18)
    by CST on Mon Apr 11, 2011 at 10:08:59 AM EST
    atrocious singer.  That being said, I still love listening/singing along to a lot of his songs.  Even more so, I enjoy other people's covers of his songs.

    As for the activist question - I don't really feel qualified to answer that, but I agree with kdog  about artists in general.