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August 14, 2009 11:59 PM   Subscribe

Two Jersey Shore cops stop Bob Dylan, taking an afternoon walk in Long Branch, NJ. Neither recognizes him. He has no I.D with him. but the situation is soon peacefully rectified. At least he didn't start up with them like he might have long ago.Don't think twice, it's alright.
posted by Seekerofsplendor (173 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
A resident called to report someone wandering around the neighborhood.
Am I missing something? Why would a man walking around at 5pm require a call to the police? What sort of area is this?
posted by chorltonmeateater at 12:21 AM on August 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


chorltonmeateater - "a man was wandering around a low-income, predominantly minority neighborhood "

i'd guess a 68 year old haggard jewish man would raise some eyebrows in a community that's predominantly non-white.
posted by nadawi at 12:32 AM on August 15, 2009


Damn. He should've argued.
Then they'd all get to have a beer at the White House.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 12:36 AM on August 15, 2009 [8 favorites]


Well shit, the man's heyday was forty years ago. Is it really that big a deal that a couple of 20-year-olds can't recognize a singer who hasn't had a hit in decades?
posted by Bookhouse at 12:39 AM on August 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


It's almost as if he were a complete unknown!
posted by cdmwebs at 12:44 AM on August 15, 2009 [22 favorites]


predominantly minority

Language, how I love you.
posted by rodgerd at 12:45 AM on August 15, 2009 [41 favorites]


In Patterson Long Branch that's just the way things go
If you're black Bob Dylan you might as well not show up on the sreet
'less you wanna draw the heat...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 12:46 AM on August 15, 2009 [13 favorites]


a singer who hasn't had a hit in decades

all the best hits,
at the end of my wits,
call it like you see it
i'll call it quits ...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 12:51 AM on August 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


...a singer who hasn't had a hit in decades?

You're kidding, right?
posted by Optamystic at 12:51 AM on August 15, 2009


chorltonmeateater: "
A resident called to report someone wandering around the neighborhood.
Am I missing something? Why would a man walking around at 5pm require a call to the police? What sort of area is this?
"

The CNN article says that he was looking into the windows of a house that was for sale.
posted by lilkeith07 at 12:52 AM on August 15, 2009


It's almost as if he were a complete unknown!

It's almost as if you didn't read this FPP's title!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 12:52 AM on August 15, 2009 [12 favorites]


nthing the you need id to walk in the street in America (land of the free) now? You guys are doing it wrong ...
posted by fistynuts at 12:54 AM on August 15, 2009 [7 favorites]


"What is your name, sir?" the officer asked.

"Bob Dylan," Dylan mumbled.
posted by Tube at 12:58 AM on August 15, 2009 [8 favorites]


Optomystic, that may have been a "hit," but likely not among the under-50 crowd. Or at the very least, not among the under-30 crowd.

Heck, I'm reasonably savvy to most major music of the last 40+ years, but couldn't identify more than a handful of Dylan songs - all from the 60s. And to be honest - Dylan doesn't exude a "Hey, I'm a super-huge famous guy" persona. Fair to say he eschews it, wisely.

So I'm not surprised that two young cops didn't say, "WOW! You're Bob Dylan!"
posted by davidmsc at 1:00 AM on August 15, 2009


So this Dylan guy, I'd have to be old to know about him right?
posted by sebas at 1:03 AM on August 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


lilkeith07: "The CNN article says that he was looking into the windows of a house that was for sale."

Ah, it makes a bit more sense now.
posted by chorltonmeateater at 1:08 AM on August 15, 2009


It's almost as if you didn't read this FPP's title!

You are correct, flapjax. Crap.
posted by cdmwebs at 1:10 AM on August 15, 2009


To be fair, the police could have been dealing with Keith Richards.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:17 AM on August 15, 2009 [6 favorites]


...a singer who hasn't had a hit in decades?

You're kidding, right?


No, I'm not. Album sales and hits aren't the same thing. Of course his albums still sell well, almost entirely to his established and aging fanbase.

And just to be clear, I like Dylan just fine. I'm just not into the sort of tongue-clucking tone of the article that just seems flabbergasted that these young men didn't know who this aging artist is. Hell, there's a decent chance that a non-music-nut early-twenties guy doesn't listen to any rock & roll, much less oldies.
posted by Bookhouse at 1:19 AM on August 15, 2009


1. Heck, I'm reasonably savvy to most major music of the last 40+ years.

2. but couldn't identify more than a handful of Dylan songs

Your're doing it wrong.
posted by anazgnos at 1:21 AM on August 15, 2009 [34 favorites]


I don't get it. Is "being Bob Dylan" an affirmative defense for ... whatever it is they were about to charge him with?

The major news services are running this as a "LOL Generation Gap" story, when it seems more like yet another "cops unwittingly treat upper-class person same way they'd treat lower-class person" story.
posted by Wufpak at 1:21 AM on August 15, 2009 [34 favorites]


Stickin'it to The MAN!!! He went all BOB DYLAN on their ass!

["What is your name, sir?" the officer asked.
"Bob Dylan," Dylan said.
"OK, what are you doing here?" the officer asked.
"I'm on tour," the singer replied.]
posted by Auden at 1:28 AM on August 15, 2009



1. Heck, I'm reasonably savvy to most major music of the last 40+ years.

2. but couldn't identify more than a handful of Dylan songs


Your're doing it wrong.


Forty years ago is 1969. That's heading from the bit of Dylan's career where he was a popular, important musician to an influential musician. Considered over the past 40 years, Dylan hasn't actually churned out a lot of the important music himself.

I'm sorry if that's making you feel old.
posted by rodgerd at 1:33 AM on August 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't get it. Is "being Bob Dylan" an affirmative defense for ... whatever it is they were about to charge him with?

Yes.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:37 AM on August 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


So I guess I'm an outlier for being 19 and, completely by coincidence, listening to Blood On The Tracks when I first read this article? I'm not feeling terribly old at the moment.
posted by Nomiconic at 1:48 AM on August 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm sorry if that's making you feel old.

I don't see why it would. Forty years ago is ten years before I was born.
posted by anazgnos at 1:59 AM on August 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Since when is walking through a neighborhood in the afternoon, looking at houses cause for the police to stop you and ask for identification?

Someone called the police, they had to respond. They asked him what he was doing. "I am a musician on tour, i'm killing time looking at houses before my show tonight" No crime is happening, reasonable explanation as to (suspicious?) behavior, time for the police to move on. There is no law in New Jersey compelling a pedestrian to produce identification when asked by an officer of the law. Invoking your right to silence is not a crime.

"The officers asked Dylan, 68, to accompany them back to the Ocean Place Resort and Spa, where the performers were staying. Once there, tour staff vouched for Dylan."

Really? Did they think he was insane? A criminal lying about being bob dylan? They couldn't radio dispatch and be all "hey google bob dylan, and see if he's on tour here tonight, and tell us what he looks like"?

I recall hearing stories like this, about the police in the USSR when I was a child, in the context of the USSR being a police state and this type of behavior as an intimidation tactic against the general populace.
posted by zentrification at 2:08 AM on August 15, 2009 [14 favorites]


Before I state the bloody obvious: I've been called a 'hippie but a decent guy' but a member of the Jersey police.

Now the obvious: Bob Dylan is the most important poet of the twentieth century. Yes, that inclues TS Eliot, wankers. However, he looks like reanimated corpse. I don't blame anyone asking him who the hell is he is at any point.
posted by Football Bat at 2:48 AM on August 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


er: includes

losing scolding ability
posted by Football Bat at 2:50 AM on August 15, 2009


Well shit, the man's heyday was forty years ago. Is it really that big a deal that a couple of 20-year-olds can't recognize a singer who hasn't had a hit in decades?

If one is so abjectly clueless that you feel that describing Dylan as "a singer who hasn't had a hit in decades" is even a vaguely fair characterization, then I suppose not. There are quite a lot of people (a couple of months ago, I met a 25 year old woman who'd never heard of Adolf Hitler!) - who appear able only to perceive importance or relevance through the lens of Paris Hilton-styled "stardom." I suppose that figures of historical note - of which Dylan is certainly one - may simply not exist for them. This casual depiction of Dylan as simply a long-hitless artist would be ample evidence of that. Yet one could wash away any knowledge of what Dylan did until ten years ago, and you'd still be left with the following:

1) A ranking as one of Time magazine's "100 Most Important People Of The Century" - note people, not artists or musicians.

2) Three top 5 (and two #1) "new" albums, more than 30 albums into his career, plus several other high-charting compilations. He also became the oldest artist ever to debut at number one.

3) Several thousand cover versions of his songs recorded in the past decade alone.

4) More than one hundred books about him in the past decade alone.

5) A Pulitzer Prize special citation.

6) A ranking of #2 in Rolling Stone's "Greatest Artists Of All Time."

7) The winning at least one Oscar and one Grammy, with many other nominations.

8) A memoir that reached #2 on the NY Times bestseller list.

9) An award-winning biographical film made by Martin Scorsese and seen by millions on PBS.

10) Several other movies about him, both heavily fictionalized and documentary in style, including "Masked And Anonymous" and the Academy Award-nominated "I'm Not There," which saw actors including Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Richard Gere and Heath Ledger play Dylan.

Of course, toss in the rest of his career and you're left with one of the most influential and dazzlingly iconic figures of the 20th century. Yes, I expect people to have some awareness of the figures and factors which have created the world in which we now live - particularly if they're still artistically vibrant and alive.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 2:56 AM on August 15, 2009 [78 favorites]


I'm not old either - still under 35. And I didn't speak any English until I was about 20, and thus was immune to a lot of Dylan's artistry. Yet still, I figured it out.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 2:59 AM on August 15, 2009


In the early 90's, I worked at a second-run, art house theater in Chicago (the Three Penny Theater) when I was in college. One night, we were showing a film called Falling from Grace, starring John Cougar. Tonight, June, the co-owner of the theater was in the box office selling tickets. A scruffy looking guy came up and mumbled something. June thought this person was an intoxicated transient. She began to ask him questions which befuddled him. After a few moments the bell rang in her head and she realized that it was Bob Dylan and let him in. She confessed she was *this* close to telling to take a hike. Sounds like wandering around and seeming a little off was his MO.

Now you know
.
.
.
.
.
.
the other side of the story!
posted by zerobyproxy at 3:08 AM on August 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


Don't forget -- he was in a Victoria's Secret ad too.

Just kidding. He's a god to me.

NJ Police WTF? He should have gone all Skip Gates on their asses.
posted by fourcheesemac at 3:12 AM on August 15, 2009


The students told ABC News affiliate KMGH-TV in Denver they are performing Bob Dylan's song "Masters of War" during the Boulder High School Talent Exposé because they are Dylan fans. They said they want to express their views and show off their musical abilities.
But some students and adults who heard the band rehearse called a radio talk show Thursday morning, saying the song the band sang ended with a call for President Bush to die.


(so if you don't remember Robert Allen Zimmerman, you are not alone.)
posted by rough ashlar at 3:29 AM on August 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry if that's making you feel old.

Oh no, you're not making me feel old. But I reckon I am more experienced than you. At any rate, I've paid attention for much of my life to not only my contemporaries, but also to folks born (gasp!) before me. That would include Bobby Zimmerman (that's Dylan to you) who showed up here on the planet almost 20 years before I did. Now, my advice to you, should you be inclined to consider it, is to start paying some attention to some of the folks who preceded your arrival here on Earth. Who knows, you might learn something!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:08 AM on August 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Let's hope these cops were being extra careful because of the Gates incident. Still, "famous black man with ID arrested in own house" vs "famous white man without ID gets a lift back to his hotel" is not a good contrast.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 4:17 AM on August 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


Is it really that big a deal that a couple of 20-year-olds can't recognize a singer who hasn't had a hit in decades?

Seriously. It's not like we're talking about mushrooms here.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 4:31 AM on August 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


I don't blame the Jersey cops for not recognizing Dylan. He's as old and scruffy and plain as a lot of people they see on the streets, and he was a wet guy in a sweatshirt wandering about in the rain. Cops are paid to not recognize celebrities but to treat everybody equally.

What's wrong in this story is that an unknown man can't go out for a walk without some quivering snoop calling the cops on him, and that the cops will then take action on it. Shit, if I called the cops every time I saw someone I didn't know walking by and looking at stuff, I'd be on the phone all day ("Hurry! There's a woman looking at the forget-me-nots!"), and if the cops responded to every call I made ("You mean you saw someone who could conceivably commit a crime?! We'll get right on it!"), they'd have to post an officer on my street just to keep up with the load.

I hope Dylan buys that house on the corner of Franklin and 3rd in Long Branch, New Jersey, and rents it out to a team of turban-wearing gay nocturnal urban ornithologists who stroll about hand in hand in wee hours with night-vision goggles and telephoto lenses, and who give tympani and yodeling lessons during the day. Howdy, neighbors!
posted by pracowity at 4:56 AM on August 15, 2009 [47 favorites]


I must of been out of the U.S. for too long, but if you are walking down the street, and the police ask you for your I.D., you basically have to give it to them now? That's kind of messed up.
posted by afu at 5:05 AM on August 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


tympani and yodeling

Simultaneous. That'd be badass.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:06 AM on August 15, 2009


"What is your name, sir?" the officer asked

I'll mumble your mumble outside!
posted by ActingTheGoat at 5:10 AM on August 15, 2009


I don't quite understand what would have happened if he couldn't provide id to the cops. Is it illegal for a person to talk a walk without id in New Jersey?
posted by the quidnunc kid at 5:12 AM on August 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Is it illegal for a person to talk a walk without id in New Jersey?

I think you need either that or ego, but I can never remember which.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:15 AM on August 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


Officers, do you even know who Bob Dylan is?

No... but we know he died of drugs!
posted by SpiffyRob at 5:33 AM on August 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


I think the issue was some random scruffy guy looking in peoples windows. It wasn't clear that the houses were empty.
posted by blue_beetle at 5:39 AM on August 15, 2009


I must of been out of the U.S. for too long, but if you are walking down the street, and the police ask you for your I.D., you basically have to give it to them now?
and
Is it illegal for a person to talk a walk without id in New Jersey?

No. As long as you aren't driving (then you need a license), you don't have to show the cops shit.

But I'm betting that for their purposes, he was a wandering homeless man looking to get out of the rain. When they see a homeless man in their area, the cops roust him and expect it to end there because he's poor and ignorant and doesn't want to be thrown into jail on the false charges cops can so easily concoct. They don't expect to discover that the homeless man they've just put into the back of the car is in fact a famous performer with money and a manager and a lawyer and several homes and a room at a nice hotel down the street and millions of fans and plenty of press interest.
posted by pracowity at 5:44 AM on August 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


My father in law worked for a railroad and when my wife was a kid they moved every couple of years. One of their layovers was in one of those neighborhoods where the neighbors were all snoopy and complaining if you let the grass get too high or parked your car on the street and yeah, they'd call the cops if they didn't recognize you just for walking down their precious street.

When they moved, my mother-in-law explains that she insisted on screening the potential buyers personally, and she made it a point to sell the house to a very nice couple of confirmed bachelors, as she would describe them with an evil little chuckle. I'm sure it did wonders for the sale of blood pressure medication in the neighborhood, back in the 1970's when being even semi-openly gay was almost unheard of in the south.
posted by localroger at 5:53 AM on August 15, 2009 [6 favorites]


Clearly Dylan and the cops need to have a couple of beers at the White House. Also, I liked this part of the article: "How did it feel?"
posted by exogenous at 5:53 AM on August 15, 2009


I'm sorry if that's making you feel old.

It's making me feel like I'm sharing oxygen with fucking philistines.

Seriously, that ignorance of yours? Might want to keep it under wraps.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:55 AM on August 15, 2009 [14 favorites]


When I saw this post I had just woken up, and I guess the old brain wasn't working quite right. I read that the police had stabbed Bob Dylan. Holy shit! I clicked on that link right away. So I guess I'm the only one here who's relieved that they only hassled him.
posted by Humanzee at 5:56 AM on August 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I would wager that the cops were so unhip that when he said Dylan, they thought he was talking about Dylan Thomas, whoever he was. The Man ain't got no culture!
posted by Creosote at 6:10 AM on August 15, 2009 [8 favorites]


For all those who are saying "OMG kids these days, who doesn't know who Bob effing Dylan" is, I want to point something out:

This is what Dylan looks like now.

I do not for one minute blame the citizen who called it in, or the cops who responded, for not taking this broke-down nutty-looking old dude who looks and (probably) acts like every other strung-out low-life a cop deals with on his shift, for his word when he tried to tell them he was, in fact, a rock star. After all, they treated him with perfect courtesy by all accounts, and did the bare minimum necessary to verify that his somewhat implausible story was true.

Shoot, I own several Dylan albums and I still would not recognize the revenant in that picture, or treat him with anything other than cautious suspicion if I encountered him in my neighborhood.

And for all those asking what America has come to, that a man can't take a walk without getting hassled, I have to remind everyone here, that it's supposed to be a virtue when residents report strange activities in their 'hoods to the police. If it's a "poor" neighborhood (like the one I live in), it may be just a few blocks from an actual drug-and-prostitution market, and residents may be a bit on edge and working hard to keep that activity out of their front yards. So, yeah, rough-looking white dudes poking around a black or hispanic area might be seen as possible junkies or johns and get called in. Everybody did their job, nobody got disrespected or arrested. Sounds to me like cops and neighbors working together perfectly.
posted by BigLankyBastard at 6:14 AM on August 15, 2009 [12 favorites]


I was going to post some kind of jokey lyrical reference, but instead I'll just point out that you can combine Google site search with the well-designed bobdylan.com (try limiting it to the /songs/ folder, even) to discover that Dylan has six songs with the word 'cop' in them, eight with 'police,' but only one with 'New Jersey' (and flapjax made that joke way upthread).
posted by box at 6:19 AM on August 15, 2009


The US Supreme Court has said that it is not unconstitutional for states to charge someone criminally if he refuses to identify himself. Some states have laws that specifically allow for this kind of arrest. Other states simply interpret their existing laws against interfering with a police officer who is carrying out his duty to include a requirement that a person identify himself to police.

There may be some states where this is not done, but the US Supreme Court has said it's okay to arrest someone for that, and you will find that most -- if not all -- states will allow for the prosecution of this. As usual, the Supreme Court sides with the State versus the citizens. They have a remarkable consistency in doing that.

I was making an argument one time and the Judge ruled against me, saying, "Under the Fourth Amendment, police had a right to search him."

I responded, "The Constitution doesn't give the police any rights. The Constitution gives citizens rights. The police didn't have a right to do anything here. Your ruling is saying that this particular citizen did not have the right to do something without police interference."

When a Judge thinks that police have special rights under the Constitution, it is an uphill battle for any defendant.
posted by flarbuse at 6:19 AM on August 15, 2009 [17 favorites]


I hope Dylan buys that house on the corner of Franklin and 3rd in Long Branch, New Jersey, and rents it out to a team of turban-wearing gay nocturnal urban ornithologists who stroll about hand in hand in wee hours with night-vision goggles and telephoto lenses, and who give tympani and yodeling lessons during the day. Howdy, neighbors!

My birdwatcher husband was handcuffed and put in the back of a police car twice, while he was out looking for owls, a little after midnight and in our own neighborhood. (no turban)
posted by francesca too at 7:13 AM on August 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Officer: Sir, what's your name?
Bob Dylan: Bob Dylan.
O: Thank you, sir. Do you have an explanation for why you're walking around looking in the windows of houses for sale?
BD: Well, I'm a musician on tour. I'm just killing time before a show.
O: Well, wait right here while I radio dispatch to back up your story.
walks back to car; dispatcher googles bob dylan, relays results to police officer
O: Sir, are you responsible for Masked and Anonymous?
BD: Why yes, I wrote that along...
cop tasers bob dylan
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 7:19 AM on August 15, 2009 [7 favorites]


Your favorite suspicious vagrant sucks.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 7:34 AM on August 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


Officers, do you even know who Bob Dylan is?

You mean Uncle Robert?
posted by ColdChef at 7:38 AM on August 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


They'll stone you when you're there all alone.
posted by ColdChef at 7:41 AM on August 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Okay, so we got that they hounded him. But did they call him Mr. Smith?
posted by ColdChef at 7:43 AM on August 15, 2009


So correct me if I'm wrong, but Dylan wasn't doing anything illegal or even interesting, the situation was resolved without incident, and the only story here is "OMG police officer didn't recognize Bob Dylan?"

Here's a curious thing about humans: the music you listen to in your formative years will seem like it's obviously the most important music in human history for the rest of your life. Others in your peer group will encourage this belief by publishing endless Rolling Stone retrospectives and exhaustive box sets and generally mythologizing their own youthful passions more and more with each passing year—until they have canonized the objects of those passions, as if an opinion shared by enough people crystallizes into some kind of objective fact.

Meanwhile, no one else cares and they're probably really tired of hearing you drone on about the Greatness and Importance of your favorite music, because it isn't important to them, and you're almost certainly as ignorant—if not more so—of the music that is important to them, and Jesus it was forty years ago, you know?
posted by ixohoxi at 7:44 AM on August 15, 2009 [6 favorites]


you've all missed the obvious comment -

"don't go mistaking paradise for that home across the road"

thank you
posted by pyramid termite at 7:45 AM on August 15, 2009


Here's a curious thing about humans: the music you listen to in your formative years will seem like it's obviously the most important music in human history for the rest of your life.

here's a curious thing about today's humans - they aren't listening to or buying today's music as much as earlier generations did the music of their time

and you're almost certainly as ignorant—if not more so—of the music that is important to them

i've got to admit since my 13 year old daughter got into 80s hair metal i've learned how ignorant i was of this genre ...
posted by pyramid termite at 7:51 AM on August 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Here's a curious thing about humans: the music you listen to in your formative years will seem like it's obviously the most important music in human history for the rest of your life.

Bob Dylan didn't make music in my formative years, nor did I listen to him much in my formative years. Nevertheless, he's one of the most important songwriters of the 20th century.

Jimmy Carter hasn't been president for almost 30 years, but I'd be fairly surprised if he was stopped by the police and unrecognized when he identified himself.
posted by deanc at 7:53 AM on August 15, 2009


"Hey, you're that guy from the Victoria's Secret ad!"
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:58 AM on August 15, 2009


People are making this out to be something it's not. FTFA:

The officers asked Dylan, 68, to accompany them back to the Ocean Place Resort and Spa, where the performers were staying. Once there, tour staff vouched for Dylan.

The officers thanked him for his cooperation.

"He couldn't have been any nicer to them," Woolley added.


Nothing in the article suggests he was under threat of arrest. The police asked him to accompany them. He could have refused.

In doing this, they were testing several possibilities: * He might suddenly take off running, which would be highly suspicious, and give probable cause. * He might become physically aggressive: instant arrest. * He might suddenly "remember" his ID, defusing the situation, at which point they'd harass him with annoying questions for being an asshole to them, and let him go. * He might refuse, at which case, lacking probable cause of a criminal activity, they could legally do nothing more than continue to observe & question him. * Or he might cooperate.

No civil liberties were harmed in this situation.

The US Supreme Court has said that it is not unconstitutional for states to charge someone criminally if he refuses to identify himself.
flarbuse, this isn't a relevant decision, because Bob did identify himself. SCOTUS didn't empower police to arrest people without ID; they empowered police to arrest people who refuse to answer a basic question about themselves that even POWs must answer, under the Geneva Convention.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:06 AM on August 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


OK, granted: the POW analogy is poor. However, POWs are granted a great deal of protection, despite their criminal-esque status (essentially guilty upon capture). Freedom from self-identification is not among those protections.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:09 AM on August 15, 2009


I've seen Bob Dylan in the flesh, up close.

To the people who are shocked that a couple of kids did not recognize Bob Dylan, I submit that if you saw him walking down the street, you would be likely to think "Hey, that hobo kind of looks like Bob Dylan".
posted by padraigin at 8:21 AM on August 15, 2009 [11 favorites]


Bob Dylan didn't make music in my formative years, nor did I listen to him much in my formative years. Nevertheless, he's one of the most important songwriters of the 20th century.

To historians of pop music, and to his fans, sure—but I am neither.

See, everyone seems to assume that Dylan's work would be meaningful to me because his influence has trickled down to so many other musicians, some of whom I presumably care about. But that is a presumption, because I don't listen to anything in the rock or singer/songwriter traditions (with some very few exceptions), and any connection you could draw between Dylan and the music that's important to me (ambient, dub, psytrance, instrumental hip-hop—if it matters) would be tenuous and circuitous at best.

All of that aside, he's just another damn celebrity, and there are a lot of celebrities I wouldn't recognize in the park. Some of us don't spend all our time fawning over photographs of famous people.

I don't deny that Dylan has been influential on a lot of musicians, and important to a lot of listeners. I'm just saying that this wide-eyed astonishment that Kids These Days don't recognize the Boomers' own Jesus Christ is silly.

In a somewhat related (and amusing) vein, here's an essay titled Why Baltimore House Music Is The New Dylan.
posted by ixohoxi at 8:31 AM on August 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


When a Judge thinks that police have special rights under the Constitution, it is an uphill battle for any defendant.

On behalf of the citizens of the United States, I just want to say thanks for fighting the good fight.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:35 AM on August 15, 2009


Album sales and hits aren't the same thing.

One measures reality, the other, fakery.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:51 AM on August 15, 2009


any connection you could draw between Dylan and the music that's important to me (ambient, dub, psytrance, instrumental hip-hop—if it matters) would be tenuous and circuitous at best.

There's a such thing as being so good people don't want to be like you. That's influence.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:52 AM on August 15, 2009


Something something Cylon something.
posted by The Whelk at 8:52 AM on August 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Somehow, ixohoxi, I don't believe these police officers are big house music fans. I think they're just ignorant, and Bob Dylan looks old. While you don't listen to his music, and are tired of being oppressed by the evil rockists, you know who he is.
posted by vibrotronica at 8:53 AM on August 15, 2009


Officer: What is your name?
Bob Dylan: Bob Dylan
Officer: What are you doing here?
Bob Dylan: Freakin' Mellencamp just sits around telling me how he got called the next Bob Dylan, and Willie just wants to take bong hits and listen to Snoop Dogg. I had to get out of there for awhile you know?
posted by Edward L at 9:06 AM on August 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


This story really shocked me. I had been sure Dylan died in that Lynyrd Skynyrd plane crash back in 77.
posted by cccorlew at 9:06 AM on August 15, 2009


Yes, I expect people to have some awareness of the figures and factors which have created the world in which we now live - particularly if they're still artistically vibrant and alive.

Cops are working-class folk. Some folks aren't raised in the dominant culture (it's called hip-hop and R&B). There's a pretty good chance that two working-class twenty-somethings (particularly if they are not white) don't listen to rock & roll at all, making Bob Dylan's influence on their lives fairly indirect. It's just not a crime to not know who he is.

These things happen
.
posted by Bookhouse at 9:11 AM on August 15, 2009 [6 favorites]


Nothing in the article suggests he was under threat of arrest. The police asked him to accompany them. He could have refused.

If I pulled up and asked you to accompany me, you would have no problem telling me to bugger off. That's simple asking and refusing.

But if a couple of dark-uniformed government enforcers with clubs and tasers and guns hanging visibly from their utility belts pulled up in a fast car with a cage in the back and the sound of headquarters coming in on their radio to remind you that there are a lot more where these two came from, and they politely "asked" you to accompany them, it would not be so simple. The cops have a long history of making things very unpleasant for "uncooperative" people. So the innocent walker says to himself, "End of walk. Get in the car and try to avoid a bureaucratic, financial, and physical beatdown."

One good thing to come out of this is that those two cops might be just a little less likely to pick up people who aren't doing anything wrong. But the nice old man who was out for a walk is probably less likely to go strolling about like that, and the Gladys Kravitz who reported him, having received this positive feedback from the local cops, is probably more likely to report other people who are just out for walks. From this standpoint, things are worse.
posted by pracowity at 9:12 AM on August 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


You can't stay in here all day dreaming about heroin and Ziggy Pop.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 9:16 AM on August 15, 2009


I'm just going to go ahead and get of ixohoxi's lawn before the cops get called.
posted by Sailormom at 9:20 AM on August 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hey guys, I heard about a firefighter who responded to a fire at Paris Hilton's house and didn't even know who she was. What is our society coming to?
posted by ixohoxi at 9:21 AM on August 15, 2009


Welcome to Duloc, it's a perfect place.

I love you, Shrek.
posted by effluvia at 9:32 AM on August 15, 2009


Some folks aren't raised in the dominant culture (it's called hip-hop and R&B).

I'm sorry for this convoluted and unclear sentence and would like it struck from the record.
posted by Bookhouse at 9:43 AM on August 15, 2009


Forty years ago is 1969. That's heading from the bit of Dylan's career where he was a popular, important musician to an influential musician.

Sure, if you just move up to 25 years ago, you get to see just how influential he is. I mean, who could forget his classic songs like "America", Heartlight" and "Sweet Caroline"?



......I kid, I kid! but only because there is nobody as serious and pretetious as a Dylan fan on a tear.

And let's face it; being Dylan could have been explaining things as clearly and distictly as he could, and the cops would stilll be going "Hello? Sir? We can't understand you. Can you speak more clearly? Why do you talk like Clousou?"
posted by happyroach at 9:47 AM on August 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'm still wondering what's on his ID.
posted by docgonzo at 10:47 AM on August 15, 2009


......I kid, I kid! but only because there is nobody as serious and pretetious (sic) as a Dylan fan on a tear.

Your favorite national treasure sucks.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:56 AM on August 15, 2009


As a twenty year old who doesn't listen to most of classic rock— but loves music— this thread makes me sad. There's plenty of influential and talented bands that you and I haven't heard. I wonder how Bob Dylan would feel about all this worship.
posted by yaymukund at 10:58 AM on August 15, 2009


weird man plays guitar for children.
posted by pinky at 11:17 AM on August 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


This is what Dylan looks like now.

Now you're just fucking with us. That's clearly Madonna.
posted by rokusan at 11:17 AM on August 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I wonder how Bob Dylan would feel about all this worship.

He's probably rolling in his grave!
posted by dirigibleman at 11:17 AM on August 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


A nice "Bob Dylan peeped through this window." plaque should get that unsold house moving.
posted by R. Mutt at 11:34 AM on August 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Some folks aren't raised in the dominant culture (it's called hip-hop and R&B).


The creepy thing about this thread is the idea that it's perfectly okay to know absolutely nothing about figures of cultural importance and influence. Frankly, I'd be rather embarrassed to learn about the existence of someone of Dylan's stature - whether I liked his art or not - beyond an adolescent age of discovery. This includes figures of importance to those raised in "non-dominant" cultures as well. In any case, this sort of "selective ignorance" is unfortunate - not simply because one cuts him- or herself off from all sorts of things one might learn to appreciate in some way, but because it often tends to mask real ignorance even of the things one claims to like or understand. I've got a friend who's putting together a boxed set for a well-known label, and this set will attempt to create a kind of "origin" of many of the musical genres ixohoxi claims to admire - trance, dub, modern ambient music, and so on. I've heard bits and pieces of it, and one of the more amazing pieces - ironically - is a hitherto unreleased dub version of the Heptones' take on the Bob Dylan's "I Shall be Released," which must rank as one of Scratch's most insanely precognitive production efforts. In Europe, the connection between genres such as trance and ambient is more often *noticeably* rooted in a "revival" (if you will) of ancient folk traditions, such as the use of polyphony, drones and so on. (One of the "theories" about the origin of these genres is that there are disproportionately rooted in largely or entirely vocal genres, which is explicated pretty well from what I've seen.) Many practitioners of genres ixohoxi claims to like followed a simple path from Dylan to odd folk and back to present-day ambient / dub / psytrance / what have you. So when I read . . .

and any connection you could draw between Dylan and the music that's important to me (ambient, dub, psytrance, instrumental hip-hop—if it matters) would be tenuous and circuitous at best.

. . . my heart saddens at how much is obviously being missed. The threads are plenty.

One more thing: I wasn't raised in the "dominant culture" - my touchstones were (say) Saban Bajramovic and Bijelo Dugme and sevdalinke, none of which have any wieght in American culture. This "not being raised in a dominant culture" strikes me as a bit racist in its implications. I mean, for heaven's sake, I can discuss the Black Panthers quite intelligently, despite their heyday having been before my birth, their essential dissolution before my ability to speak English and their relevance today being extremely compartmentalized, to put it mildly. In any case, here are just a few "non-dominant culture" artists who thought enough of Dylan to cover at least one song:

The Rance Allen Group
Dave Barker
Harry Belafonte
Brook Benton
Kurtis Blow
The Brothers And Sisters
Clarence Gatemouth Brown
Solomon Burke
Shirley Caesar
Merry Clayton
Natalie Cole
Con Funk Shun
Sam Cooke
Johnny Copeland
Terence Trent D’Arby
The Dixie Flyers
The Five Blind Boys Of Alabama
Roberta Flack
Aretha Franklin
Richie Havens
The Edwin Hawkins Singers
Isaac Hayes
Nona Hendryx
The Heptones
Luther Ingram
Gregory Isaacs
The Isley Brothers
Chuck Jackson
Mahalia Jackson
Etta James
Johnny Jenkins
Booker T Jones
BB King
Ben E King
Freddie King
Patti Labelle
Ladysmith Black Mambazo
Ramsey Lewis
Luciano
Mafia & Fluxy
Taj Mahal
Miriam Makeba
Bob Marley & the Wailers
Matumbi
The Maytones
Melle Mel
The Mighty Clouds Of Joy
The Mighty Diamonds
Jacob Miller
Johnny Nash
The Neville Brothers
Youssou N’Dour
Odetta
The O’Jays
The Paragons
Billy Paul
Ernest Ranglin
Max Romeo
Diana Ross
Freddie Scott
Nina Simone
Sizzla
The Soul Stirrers
The Staple Singers
Billy Stewart
The Supremes
Swamp Dogg
Howard Tate
Big Mama Thornton
Tina Turner
Toots & the Maytals
Stanley Turrentine
The Undisputed Truth
Voices Of East Harlem
Dionne Warwick
Stevie Wonder
OV Wright
Yellowman

Of course the "real" list would be many times as long, but as this incorporates popular performers in the genres of dancehall, hip hop, blues, soul, jazz, gospel and so on, it seemed worth noting. Despite later shying away from the "protest" singer tag, Dylan was a pivotal figure in the culture of the civil rights era; his importance and relevance widely understood and acknowledged by those members of "non-dominant culture."
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 11:36 AM on August 15, 2009 [19 favorites]


COLD BUSTED.
posted by chinston at 11:54 AM on August 15, 2009


How many times can Dylan cross a road, before they will call in "the man?"
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 12:12 PM on August 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


Frankly, I'd be rather embarrassed to learn about the existence of someone of Dylan's stature - whether I liked his art or not - beyond an adolescent age of discovery.

Then you are sure to be embarrassed many times in your life. Why be embarrassed? That's the worst part about this whole thread. Why does it have to be either laugh at the people who don't know, or consciously be against what is commonly known?
posted by Corduroy at 12:28 PM on August 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Cripes. The article posted is the journalistic equivalent of filling a bag with dung and setting it on fire on some stranger's porch; then ringing the doorbell and cackling in glee as they be-shit themselves whilst stomping out the flames.

Any outrage should be directed toward Wayne Parry, the Associated Press "reporter'"who essentially concocted this flaccid excuse of a story. He did this by not only intentionally omitting vital facts, also by outright lying. This sensationalizing dipstick would have us all believe that the officer had no idea who Bob Dylan was; like that's a big surprise, or actually worthy of concern.

Problem is, it's not facking true. What really occurred -

"I asked him what his name was and he said, 'Bob Dylan,' Buble said. "Now, I've seen pictures of Bob Dylan from a long time ago and he didn't look like Bob Dylan to me at all.



Oh... and the people who called the police? As it happens they were residents of the private home that the wet and dishevelled old man was peering into. Now I don't know about you, but calling the police to report some weirdo wandering on my property and peering in the windows strikes me as a fairly rational response.

Now ... pass the beans, and direct any resulting flatulence toward AP. Perhaps complaining about the terminally incompetent moron they have researching fabricating their "news" might have some effect, but I'm guessing that they will instaed ook on all the attention as a success.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 12:43 PM on August 15, 2009 [10 favorites]


Obviously they didn't recognize Bob Dylan by his physical appearance, but what I don't understand and I want to know is this: Did they know who he is? When they heard the name "Bob Dylan", did they immediately recognize the name, and simply not take the scruffy old man at his word, or did they really not know who he is?
posted by msali at 12:49 PM on August 15, 2009


Shit, shoulda previewed.
posted by msali at 12:50 PM on August 15, 2009


I was wondering about that, PareidoliatcBoy (and msali), so thanks for the follow up.
posted by Corduroy at 12:53 PM on August 15, 2009


Why does it have to be either laugh at the people who don't know, or consciously be against what is commonly known?

That's not what's going on. What's happening here is that the idiot children are positively reveling in their ignorance. It's one thing to be stupid as fuck, but to then get defensive about your stupidity, wearing it like a badge of fucking honor... that's what grates on us old-timers.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:55 PM on August 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


stupid as fuck

Okay.
posted by Corduroy at 1:03 PM on August 15, 2009


All you Dylan-loving hippies better be able to pick Caruso out of a lineup. No reason to not know what the man looks like just because his heyday was 40 years before yours.
posted by Aquaman at 1:08 PM on August 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm sure there was a half-life in Shakespeare's trajectory where he was considered old news by the generation (or so) younger than he. They're, of course, all long forgotten now.
posted by philip-random at 1:13 PM on August 15, 2009


The creepy thing about this thread is the idea that it's perfectly okay to know absolutely nothing about figures of cultural importance and influence.

I think part of it is just youth, but part of it is an American anti-intellectualism thing, though I'm a bit surprised to see it come up here. Basically, it's "Stuff that I am not personally interested in is not important stuff". It infects a lot of people, and you can see that reflected in the media whenever, for example, CNN reports on a fire in Singapore by talking about it in terms of the nine Americans killed. It's a weird, inward-pointed lens on reality.

I hate country music and I don't own a reggae record, but I sure as hell know enough about Johnny Cash and Bob Marley to hold a basic conversation about their music and its influence, and I sure wouldn't argue that they were somehow not important, because dude we have techno now.
posted by rokusan at 1:28 PM on August 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


All you Dylan-loving hippies better be able to pick Caruso out of a lineup. No reason to not know what the man looks like just because his heyday was 40 years before yours.

Easy, but I'm italian
posted by francesca too at 1:44 PM on August 15, 2009


I've never been prouder to have this displayed on my office door.
posted by FelliniBlank at 1:49 PM on August 15, 2009


So correct me if I'm wrong, but Dylan wasn't doing anything illegal or even interesting, the situation was resolved without incident, and the only story here is "OMG police officer didn't recognize Bob Dylan?"

Yes.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 1:52 PM on August 15, 2009


All you Dylan-loving hippies better be able to pick Caruso out of a lineup.

what about maurice chevalier?
posted by pyramid termite at 2:03 PM on August 15, 2009


Caruso's easy to pick out of a lineup. He's the guy always whipping off his sunglasses.
posted by rokusan at 2:07 PM on August 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


What's happening here is that the idiot children are positively reveling in their ignorance.

What's happening here are DEATH PANELS!

DEATH PANELS!

OUTRAGE! RRRRRRWWWWWWAAAAAARRRGGGGGHHHHH!!!!
posted by dirigibleman at 2:30 PM on August 15, 2009


Well, it looks like the real story is even more hilarious than the one in the OP.
posted by Bookhouse at 2:45 PM on August 15, 2009


my favorite part of the old film link where he's pissed off is that he's freaking out over one of his houseguests/partygoers *littering*. how so Minnesotan, you are, boy from the north country.
posted by RedEmma at 3:03 PM on August 15, 2009


It's possible that Dylan had simply taken on the outward appearance of Cate Blanchett for the moment. I mean, "I'm Not Here" was confusing, man. Who could blame a pair of honest NJ cops?
posted by StrangerInAStrainedLand at 3:05 PM on August 15, 2009


The officer did know who Bob Dylan was, just didn't believe the vagrant was him.
"I said what are you doing in the neighborhood, he said he was looking at a house for sale,'' she said. ""I asked him who he was and he said I'm Bob Dylan.''

Not believing him, Buble, 24, said she asked him for identification, which he did not have.

""I asked him where he was staying, he said a big hotel on the ocean,'' she said. ""I took that to be Ocean Place (Resort & Spa).''

Buble, a three-year veteran of the force, said she put Dylan in her patrol car, ""out of the pouring rain,'' and drove him to the hotel.

""I pulled in and there were two big tour buses in the parking lot,'' Buble said. ""I thought, 'oh, maybe you are Bob Dylan.' ''

Dylan was touring with Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp.

Buble said Dylan's manager, who was in one of the buses, identified him. His identity was later confirmed with his passport.

Buble said she knew who Dylan was, but did not recognize him on the street.

""We all got a laugh,'' she said. ""He didn't look like a famous person.''

Buble said she was not able to get an autograph.

""His manager cut off all communication,'' she said.
This story got some really weird and conjectural spinning.
posted by Miko at 3:16 PM on August 15, 2009


Still, I'm a little excited. I'm from those parts. If he's looking for a house to buy there, that means the same county would get Bruce AND Bob. I hope the cop didn't put him off.
posted by Miko at 3:18 PM on August 15, 2009


Oh... and the people who called the police? As it happens they were residents of the private home that the wet and dishevelled old man was peering into. Now I don't know about you, but calling the police to report some weirdo wandering on my property and peering in the windows strikes me as a fairly rational response.

I don't see anything about peering into windows in that article.
When Dylan wandered into the yard of a home that had a "For Sale" sign on it, the home's occupants became spooked by his appearance and called police with a report of an "eccentric-looking old man" in their yard, Long Branch Police said.
So it's a house with a "For Sale" sign on it. A guy was walking by, saw the sign, and had a look at it. If you put a "For Sale" sign in your car window and a guy stops to look at your car, do you think the guy is going to steal your car? If you put a sign up for your house, do you freak out when a guy stops to look at your house?
posted by pracowity at 3:43 PM on August 15, 2009


What's happening here is that the idiot children are positively reveling in their ignorance.

The front page poll question on CNN the other day was "Do you believe that the Obama health care plan includes death panels?"

Not, "how do you feel about [fact]" or "which of these options do you agree with", but Do you believe this bullshit item we are present here as simple information?

It creeped me out, almost as if they were asking how good a job they were doing at sowing disinformation.
posted by rokusan at 3:43 PM on August 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


See, everyone seems to assume that Dylan's work would be meaningful to me

Bob Dylan proves that anyone can get money for "singing".

(writing songs, well, that is another matter)
posted by rough ashlar at 3:48 PM on August 15, 2009


This is still his best song.
posted by Hastur at 3:53 PM on August 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


So - did I ever tell you all about the time I met Bob Dylan and Pennebaker here in Stockholm. Way back in the early sixties?

I thought not.
posted by jan murray at 5:02 PM on August 15, 2009


Not sure about the 'peering in windows" bit, pracowity. I believe that I might have read that elsewhere, or perhaps I conflated the two articles, but it really doesn't matter. Your car analogy fails badly, regardless. Looking into a car parked on a public street is entirely different from then climbing into it. This applies equally to the entering onto private property, for sale sign or not. In point of fact, I would merely have asked him what he was doing, but paranoia levels in Canada are healthily below those of the U.S. .

People have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their homes, and an invitation to treat is not a licence for strangers to enter uninvited. The business down the street is up for lease, but I can't just wander into it and start inspecting the fixtures when the mood strikes me. This is just common courtesy, besides making basic sense. Many properties on the market are occupied by tenants, who don't suddenly abrogate their property rights just because the property owner is entering into a commercial transaction. The proper procedure is to call the listing agent, and arrange an inspection if you want to avoid the risk of getting shot or hassled by the "man".

Dylan's equanimity in the face of this entirely understandable reaction speaks volumes, and the outrage about the incipient police state this incident doesn't actually represent is sadly misplaced.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 5:04 PM on August 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I wonder how Bob Dylan would feel about all this worship.

Oh, he's been dealing with that since about 1964.
posted by krinklyfig at 5:18 PM on August 15, 2009


So much outrage, not enough reading the silly article. The cop knew who Bob Dylan was. I've seen Bob Dylan live and I still wouldn't have recognized him if he were peering into the windows of my house.
posted by Hildegarde at 5:39 PM on August 15, 2009


What's happening here is that the idiot children are positively reveling in their ignorance

Music is one of those situations where there are plenty of people who don't actually like music but feel the need to attach one's identity to the fandom of some kind of music genre to mock the unimportance of a musician. The hyper-genrefication of music basically allows one to pick something when you're not really interested in music in the firest place (it's kind of like the "girlfriend from Canada"). That is, I think, what we're seeing a bit of here.
posted by deanc at 5:40 PM on August 15, 2009


1) A ranking as one of Time magazine's "100 Most Important People Of The Century" - note people, not artists or musicians.

2) Three top 5 (and two #1) "new" albums, more than 30 albums into his career, plus several other high-charting compilations. He also became the oldest artist ever to debut at number one.

3) Several thousand cover versions of his songs recorded in the past decade alone.

4) More than one hundred books about him in the past decade alone.

5) A Pulitzer Prize special citation.

6) A ranking of #2 in Rolling Stone's "Greatest Artists Of All Time."

7) The winning at least one Oscar and one Grammy, with many other nominations.

8) A memoir that reached #2 on the NY Times bestseller list.

9) An award-winning biographical film made by Martin Scorsese and seen by millions on PBS.

10) Several other movies about him, both heavily fictionalized and documentary in style, including "Masked And Anonymous" and the Academy Award-nominated "I'm Not There," which saw actors including Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Richard Gere and Heath Ledger play Dylan.


What are ten excellent examples of white baby boomers continuing to cling to a time when they were relevant?

Yeah, yeah, 40th anniversary of Woodstock. We get it, gramps. You can go back to reporting the news now...
posted by Sys Rq at 5:55 PM on August 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Bookmark this thread to link back to when Dylan dies. Then we'll get a true measure of who is so coolly unimpressed.
posted by Miko at 6:33 PM on August 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


...white baby boomers...

Sys Rq, you are advised to:

1) See list upthread.
2) Get clue.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:38 PM on August 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I can't believe they didn't know who Bob Dylan was. After all, he's the guy that wrote "Margaritaville."
posted by klangklangston at 6:44 PM on August 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


I think that was Donovan, klang.
posted by Bookhouse at 7:09 PM on August 15, 2009


Bookmark this thread to link back to when Dylan dies. Then we'll get a true measure of who is so coolly unimpressed.

I'm not sure I get your drift here, Miko. Are you suggesting that people who are less than diehard Dylan fans in this thread will suddenly be moved to proselytize upon his death?
posted by Bookhouse at 7:17 PM on August 15, 2009


SCOTUS said you had to give a name, it didn't say you had to produce an ID card.
posted by etaoin at 7:26 PM on August 15, 2009


Been thinking about this ... Bob Dylan never really sought out fame, and in some respects quite the opposite. He sort of pushes it away and tries to be nondescript out in public, hence the fact that he looks like a hobo poet. I think someone not recognizing him might be sort of nice or desirable from his POV, other than the hassle of dealing with cops.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:28 PM on August 15, 2009


The front page poll question on CNN the other day was "Do you believe that the Obama health care plan includes death panels?"

CNN, who apparently read MeFi religiously, have just changed the home page poll to "Would you recognize Bob Dylan if he were roaming your neighborhood?"
posted by rokusan at 7:28 PM on August 15, 2009


What are ten excellent examples of white baby boomers continuing to cling to a time when they were relevant?

No matter what you think of Dylan, he is a major force and influence in music and culture, and his talent as a songwriter is very rare - that's why so many different people cover his music, because it's so good it transcends genre and era and speaks universally. I say this as someone who respects him but who is not a big fan.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:34 PM on August 15, 2009


What are ten excellent examples of white baby boomers continuing to cling to a time when they were relevant?

If you sincerely believe that Mr. Dylan's body of work is relevant only to those of his own generation and skin color, then I suggest that you do not know your culture.

As for the inevitable put-downs of his voice, these are occasionally accurate (there have been times in Dylan's career when excessive drinking, smoking, whatever have resulted in less than impressive vocal performances), but mostly just ignorant, or as Bono put it:

To understand Bob Dylan's impact as a singer, you have to imagine a world without Tom Waits, Bruce Springsteen, Eddie Vedder, Kurt Cobain, Lucinda Williams or any other vocalist with a cracked voice, dirt-bowl yelp or bluesy street howl. It is a vast list, but so were the influences on Dylan, from the Talmudic chanting of Allen Ginsberg in "Howl" to the deadpan Woody Guthrie and Lefty Frizzell's murmur. There is certainly iron ore in there, and the bitter cold of Hibbing, Minnesota, blowing through that voice. It's like a knotted fist, and it allows Dylan to sing the most melancholy tunes and not succumb to sentimentality.

But really, what does Bono know? His voice sucks.
posted by philip-random at 7:40 PM on August 15, 2009


Bob Dylan peed on my leg once.
posted by swell at 9:17 PM on August 15, 2009


To understand Bob Dylan's impact as a singer, you have to imagine a world without Tom Waits, Bruce Springsteen, Eddie Vedder, Kurt Cobain, Lucinda Williams or any other vocalist with a cracked voice, dirt-bowl yelp or bluesy street howl.

Where do I sign up? This sounds like paradise.
posted by ixohoxi at 9:49 PM on August 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Bob Dylan proves that anyone can get money for "singing".

Interesting thing about him is that a lot of his fans don't love his voice, but a lot of others do. It's not even a settled matter among those who like him. He is not a technician with his vocals, but he sang in such a unique and fearless way from the beginning that his voice became instantly recognizable. There are still arguments about whether he really is a good singer or not, but it's probably irrelevant, as Dylan wasn't really concerned about that. His style heavily influenced many to come after and is embedded deep in our culture. He probably wouldn't pass an audition for a well-practiced church choir or barbershop quartet, but what he does with his voice is absolutely perfect for the music he plays and for what he's singing. Well, it helps when he's keeping his health up, at least these days ...

OTOH, if he had a pitch-perfect style but couldn't write music, we probably wouldn't know who he is.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:01 PM on August 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


OTOH, if he had a pitch-perfect style but couldn't write music, we probably wouldn't know who he is.

Art Garfunkel might disagree, but in general I'd say you're right.
posted by rodgerd at 11:20 PM on August 15, 2009


Listen, not for nothing, but if I saw an old man wandering around looking lost in the rain, I would probably ask him to come in the house, and then ask him if there was someone I should call. Perhaps it's from spending a lot of time in Florida, but I would assume some level of dementia; which I'm sure was a concern of the people who called the police AND the police who responded. It didn't sound to me like anyone thought he was a threat, more that he was somehow endangered.
posted by dejah420 at 11:23 PM on August 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I hate the pigs as much as the next guy - hell - more than the next guy - but I'm not clear, based on the limited information in this article, what exactly transpired and if it was particularly offensive. The cops asked him for ID. Yes, I too wish for a society without police meddling, but given that we have police, they're going to ask for ID when they want to know what you're doing. Then they drove him to where he was staying. Did they threaten him? Demand that he come along? We have no idea. It seems entirely plausible that they were worried about a confused-seeming old man. I mean come on - cops exist to harrass the young, the poor, the oppressed. Dyland doesn't fit the profile. Perhaps they thought he was homeless or mentally ill and were harrassing him - entirely possible - but I have no reason to think so from this info.

As to recognizing him: I know Dylan's music well, have seen dozens of photos of him and film of him, and wouldn't recognize him on the street at this point. And I think its problematic to conclude that any young person who doesn't recognize Dylan or know his work is an uncultured asshole. While I do think society benefits from young folks learning about history, I also think Dylan's music kind of bites, and as it turned out, he wasn't the moral leader we hoped he was, but was actually a corporate hack - or at least he sold his music to the highest bidder like the rest of 'em. So why should we keep passing the idea of his importance to each generation that comes along?
posted by serazin at 11:49 PM on August 15, 2009


Dude looks like Vincent Price. If Vincent Price came back from the dead and mumbled something about being Bob Dylan, would you believe him? I certainly wouldn't.
posted by dirigibleman at 12:08 AM on August 16, 2009


I keep thinking that there are dozens if not hundreds of highly significant characters of the 1960s, both in the worlds of politics and art, who few if any of us would recognize on the street or even recognize their names. We think its shocking that some young person doesn't know Dylan because why - he had enormous financial success? Because there have been a lot of VH1 specials about him? Because we're told over and over that we should feel nostalgic for this little packaged version of the 60s? I understand that he was influential and that he had enormous popularity (and not just among white people), but I don't think that makes him more historically or culturally important than (picking at complete random) William Westmoreland or Ngo Dinh Diem, James Farmer, Jomo Kenyatta, Jean-Luc Godard, Betty Friedan - none of whom would likely be recognized if walking around our neighborhoods looking confused.

Dylan, shmylan, I say.
posted by serazin at 12:20 AM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


To belabor the point: would we recognize ANY of the Nobel Prize for Literature winners of the 1960s, if we saw them on the street? Would we even know most of their names?
posted by serazin at 12:26 AM on August 16, 2009


Dylan, shmylan, I say.

Why, you've made a rhyme! The influence of Dylan is indeed widespread and profound!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 12:31 AM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


This thread is full of hilarious dumbatude.

Lemme be up front first—I like Dylan, I know who he is, I own some of is records. Fewer than my father does, but hey. I like his voice, I like a lot of his songwriting. I'm also the guy who was taking shit for defending the idea of a literary canon just a week or so ago.

That all said, the idea that everyone needs to have common touchstones is bullshit and unsupportable, even as I can recognize some arguments that we're better off as a society when we do have them. Further, Dylan is IMMENSELY over-rated, something that's truly astounding once you realize that albums like Blood on the Tracks are really good. But that over-estimation makes attempts to defend Dylan read like parodies. Dee—did you actually think that any of those musicians you cited are cool now? Some good, some great, but any contemporarily cool? They're all minority musicians venerated by the white establishment, much as any number of counter-culture '60s musicians have joined the ranks of simulacrum—Dylan among them. Fuck, even the Black Panthers referenced upthread are a dead revolution, and the musicians that descended from Afro-nationalist rhetoric (Dead Prez, The Coup) are backpack fodder, not something that moves ringtones. Any counter-culture promise that rap or techno had has been bled dry by Fruity Pebbles and Gap ads. Demanding that people know the touchstones of the status quo is, to get needlessly undergrad, perpetuating the hegemony, man.

And really, we're gonna bring Bono into this? Bono, that be-mulleted Christian rock ambassador of piety? God love him for saving children or whatever the fuck he does with Paul Volcher on weekends, but he's been a pompous schmaltz peddler to stadia for longer than Soulja Boy has been alive. Just look at that fucking quote, the idea that Dylan's voice gave us not only a bevy of other over-rated singers (Tom Waits' best work will always be in Jarmusch films), but the arrogance to pronounce that people like Kurt Cobain couldn't have sung their way without Dylan is only matched by the very stupidity of such a claim—idiocy evidenced by his examples of predecessors . I have my Nuggets box sets; I know what it sounds like when too many people ape Dylan, and Nirvana it ain't.
posted by klangklangston at 12:43 AM on August 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


Andy Borowitz: Obama Invites Dylan, Cop to Bong Summit
posted by Miko at 6:35 AM on August 16, 2009


did you actually think that any of those musicians you cited are cool now?

the kind of musicians i admire don't give a fuck if you think they're cool and don't have to

b b king, stevie wonder, bob marley, big mama thornton are SO beyond that - so, for that matter, is dylan
posted by pyramid termite at 7:19 AM on August 16, 2009


ummmm? so what are we arguing about again?

That a couple of young cops should instantly recognize an aging Bob Dylan and instantly fall to their knees in reverence? That's kind of a dumb notion. Man, I wouldn't even have recognized Lady Gaga up until a few minutes ago when I spent some time with this thread.

That Bob Dylan's body of work (including his recordings) is as culturally essential, influential and brilliant as anything that has come our way from anybody in say, the past hundred years, and if you're ignorant of this, then please wake the fuck up and get educated? Yeah, I buy that.

As for bringing Bono The Good into it, I was actually looking for a Allen Ginsberg quote where he said much the same sort of a stuff. But I couldn't find it, so Bono it was. Always so controversial, that Bono The Good.
posted by philip-random at 9:09 AM on August 16, 2009


klangklangston writes: Dee—did you actually think that any of those musicians you cited are cool now? Some good, some great, but any contemporarily cool? They're all minority musicians venerated by the white establishment...

The "white establishment", eh? Did someone say something about dumbatude? Well, ignorance is more like it. If you'd ever hung out at Frank's Lounge in Ft. Greene, Brooklyn, like I did, circa 1985-95, you'd know that lots of the artists on Dee's list were (and no doubt still are) loved and respected by any number of black people. They'd laugh in your face at your "white establishment" bit, klangklangston. Now, granted, we're talking people that are older than you, it's true, but my friend, as you get older yourself, you'll perhaps realize that older people's listening habits and tastes in music are (incredible but true!) part of the overall artistic culture of the nation, and of the world. They're not teenagers or 20-somethings, and the music they listen to (some of it from artists on Dee's list) won't be found on too many teenager's iPods, and it won't be written about on Pitchfork, but these listeners are 'contemporary', in the sense that they are alive and consuming music. Your blanket dismissal of the musicians on Dee's list (and by extension, the people, black or white or watever, who enjoy their music) as irrelevant is predictably and depressingly ageist. But you'll know better once you're older. And probably a few more of the Dylan records in your dad's collection will fall into your "really good" category. Sure, your personally anointed Blood on the Tracks is indeed really good, but Dylan's 1997 (gasp! ancient at 12 years old!) release Time out Of Mind is also REALLY good. Better, in fact, in my opinion.

...not something that moves ringtones

Ringtones. The arbiter of cultural relevance. How utterly depressing. But if that's relevance, I'm happy to be irrelevant.

I do agree wholeheartedly with your assessment of Bono.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:27 AM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


That Bob Dylan's body of work (including his recordings) is as culturally essential, influential and brilliant as anything that has come our way from anybody in say, the past hundred years, and if you're ignorant of this, then please wake the fuck up and get educated? Yeah, I buy that.

In all honesty, I really do buy that. I fully appreciate Bob Dylan—the Bob Dylan from forty-five years ago, the Bob Dylan that meant something to so many people, the Bob Dylan that my parents' generation has been shoving—rightfully—down my throat throughout my whole life. That Bob Dylan is worth a billion and a half Britneys, for damn sure. That Bob Dylan was relevant. That Bob Dylan continues to be relevant, if only historically. I am a huge fan of that guy.

But the Bob Dylan I paid $90 to see the back of as he mumbled an arhythmic monotone over unimaginably square arrangements of songs that a) everyone cares about but him and b) no one cares about but him? Meh. You're not going to see any Scorsese documentaries about that dude.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:48 AM on August 16, 2009


But the Bob Dylan I paid $90 to see the back of as he mumbled an arhythmic monotone over unimaginably square arrangements of songs that a) everyone cares about but him and b) no one cares about but him?

I saw Bob back in the mid-80s when he was touring with Tom Petty. It was stupidly big venue with pretty awful sound and no, Bob didn't exactly rise to the occasion, didn't cut through ... but his backup singers were amazing (four big women giving everything a gospel feel) and Tom Petty's band were pretty damned hot too. So the songs themselves kind of won the day.

Since then I've heard all manner of reports as to his live performances (from awful to brilliant) but I've always resisted the temptation to go see him again ... unless he gets back to playing small clubs, coffee shops and the like ... in some dream.
posted by philip-random at 10:03 AM on August 16, 2009


Ringtones. The arbiter of cultural relevance. How utterly depressing. But if that's relevance, I'm happy to be irrelevant.

Well, then, what's the big deal? There's a lot of young people in America who aren't music nuts and therefore just sort of like whatever's on the top 40 radio or playing at the club. At one point Bob Dylan was one of those people, but he isn't anymore. The fact that he's also a very important figure in the history of American music is tangentially related to his popular success, but isn't entirely tied to it and does not diminish when the popularity wanes.
posted by Bookhouse at 10:50 AM on August 16, 2009


"the kind of musicians i admire don't give a fuck if you think they're cool and don't have to

b b king, stevie wonder, bob marley, big mama thornton are SO beyond that - so, for that matter, is dylan
"

Right… However, when we're talking about Kids These Days and their "ignorance" of Dylan, well, y'know, cool does matter to them. Just like it mattered to you at one point, unless you were the weird kid listening to 78s of Blind Lemon Jefferson. Not only that but Stevie Wonder, Bob Marley and Bob Dylan were once part of the "cool" milieu. They aren't really any longer, and plenty of people only know what's cool now—and that's OK. It's also OK if they're just not that into music, y'know? Plenty of people make it through life with 12 CDs from Columbia Warehouse or Time Life. I couldn't do it, but then I've gone down the rabbit hole and have made knowing a fair amount about music one of my values.

And even with all that, I have no use for BB King.

"That Bob Dylan's body of work (including his recordings) is as culturally essential, influential and brilliant as anything that has come our way from anybody in say, the past hundred years, and if you're ignorant of this, then please wake the fuck up and get educated? Yeah, I buy that."

You shouldn't—it costs too much. Gimme the sticker that says half-off, where Dylan's put out some great stuff, but is also venerated as a personality touchstone in a bit of circular importance, the same celebrity that Paris Hilton enjoys (though her record certainly lacks Dylan's gravitas). But marking all of his work as of equal brilliance and as equally essential shows the lack of critical regard that should be anathema to Dylan's legacy, especially his '60s work. That's the bullshit that got Love and Theft held up as an instant classic instead of a decent record, better by the low virtue of the albums that preceded it.

Not only that, but the veneration of Dylan follows the same pattern that counter-culture '60s music fought against—the right to be free of the baggage of the previous generation. The boomers threw off the "plastic" shackles and can't understand why anyone afterward would want to do the same thing. This insistence on eternal worthiness is especially strange when a lot of Dylan's relevance came from his topical reference; I don't expect anyone without a fairly robust historical knowledge to be able to parse "Hurricane," let alone know Hattie Carroll. And without that contemporary context, a lot of Dylan's songs lack immediacy and punch.

"The "white establishment", eh? Did someone say something about dumbatude? Well, ignorance is more like it. If you'd ever hung out at Frank's Lounge in Ft. Greene, Brooklyn, like I did, circa 1985-95, you'd know that lots of the artists on Dee's list were (and no doubt still are) loved and respected by any number of black people."

Yes, yes, yes, and I'm sure all those noble savages love Coltrane and Miles Davis and that means that those artists can never be claimed as part of the white canon. That doesn't change the fact that people listen to "What's Goin' On" with nostalgia, nor the fact that Rolling Stone—the Pravda for the white boomer establishment—venerates all those artists without any sense of irony or critical distance. But really, the some of my favorite bars are black defense?

"Now, granted, we're talking people that are older than you, it's true, but my friend, as you get older yourself, you'll perhaps realize that older people's listening habits and tastes in music are (incredible but true!) part of the overall artistic culture of the nation, and of the world. They're not teenagers or 20-somethings, and the music they listen to (some of it from artists on Dee's list) won't be found on too many teenager's iPods, and it won't be written about on Pitchfork, but these listeners are 'contemporary', in the sense that they are alive and consuming music."

Oh, poor benighted youth that has so ill-served me! Here I thought we were discussing relevance and influence, taste-making and recognizing. How foolish of me to not expand my definition of "contemporary" to include everyone living listening to music! Surely, then, everyone should recognize Sumer Is Icumin In, because some still living sing it! It's now, it's hip, Ryan Seacrest will announce it's number one with a bullet any day now because someone somewhere listens to it! It's author is, alas, anonymous and dead, like many contemporary songwriters, but I assume your broad definition of "contemporary" means that PDQ Bach doesn't need to worry about wandering the Jersey shore unescorted.

Your blanket dismissal of the musicians on Dee's list (and by extension, the people, black or white or watever, who enjoy their music) as irrelevant is predictably and depressingly ageist. But you'll know better once you're older. And probably a few more of the Dylan records in your dad's collection will fall into your "really good" category.

You condescending goober, I like most of the artists on Dee's list, and own a fair passel of music from them! But I'm not so up my own asshole to demand that everyone recognize and genuflect before the artists I enjoy, nor do I get irate when folks don't know who I'm talking about. Maybe it's because I've been listening to local and weirdo music for so long that I don't assume that my interlocutor will know Billy Bao or the Blank Dogs or even Can, but I do know that it's goddamn presumptuous when folks like you do assume that your cultural privilege is universal.
posted by klangklangston at 12:22 PM on August 16, 2009 [7 favorites]


Right… However, when we're talking about Kids These Days and their "ignorance" of Dylan, well, y'know, cool does matter to them. Just like it mattered to you at one point, unless you were the weird kid listening to 78s of Blind Lemon Jefferson.

no, i was the weird kid who listened to my dad's 78s of glenn miller and other 40s pop music in addition to the rock of the mid 60s

there's no need to put scare quotes around ignorance - you're either conversant with the history of american music or you're not

and about 10 - 20 years ago, the whole concept of "cool" pretty much disappeared into a set of mutually incomprehensible subcultural rituals of identity - all of whom think they are "cool" and the others "uncool"

you probably should have noticed this

And even with all that, I have no use for BB King.

there are damn few blues players who don't have a use for him

Not only that, but the veneration of Dylan follows the same pattern that counter-culture '60s music fought against—the right to be free of the baggage of the previous generation.

which is why so much of 60s counter-culture music built on the baggage of the previous generation - true, my parents' generation initially perceived it as a great departure from what had gone on before - but then they got used to much of the instrumentation, realized that much of it wasn't really that different and realized that many of the musicians were actually trying to reach out to the past

The boomers threw off the "plastic" shackles and can't understand why anyone afterward would want to do the same thing.

you might want to look at the top 10 songs of each of the last 50 years before you jump to the conclusion that anyone has thrown off plastic shackles

Maybe it's because I've been listening to local and weirdo music for so long that I don't assume that my interlocutor will know Billy Bao or the Blank Dogs or even Can, but I do know that it's goddamn presumptuous when folks like you do assume that your cultural privilege is universal.

cultural privilege meaning anyone who had an AM radio or a TV? you're the one who's arguing from cultural privilege when you namedrop truly obscure musicians
posted by pyramid termite at 1:44 PM on August 16, 2009


When I brought up white boomers upthread, I wasn't talking about privilege or class or whatever. I simply meant that they own, control, or are pandered to by:
1) Time magazine
2) Major record labels
3) The Sixties™
4) Major book publishers
5) The Pulitzer Prize
6) Rolling Stone magazine
7) The Oscars and the Grammys
8) [See #4]
9) PBS
10) Hollywood

I don't think it's particularly controversial to say so.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:20 PM on August 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


"there's no need to put scare quotes around ignorance - you're either conversant with the history of american music or you're not"

Right, so you'd recognize Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King on the street? You know what Kool Herc and Grand Wizard Theodore look like, right? Hell, you know who they are without checking, right, and why I'm bringing them up? C'mon, either you're conversant with the history of American music or you're not. Martin Rev, Greg Ginn, Ian MacKaye—if you stopped one of them on the street, you wouldn't ask for ID, right?

In the last 30 years, all of them have been more influential than Bob Dylan, Kool Herc and Theodore especially. And I not only would not expect the average man on the street to recognize them, but I would be pretty astonished if a 20-year-old even really knew who they were.

"and about 10 - 20 years ago, the whole concept of "cool" pretty much disappeared into a set of mutually incomprehensible subcultural rituals of identity - all of whom think they are "cool" and the others "uncool""

Ten to twenty years ago is when you noticed, not when it happened. You think the hoods had any use for the beatniks, or vice versa? The mods and the rockers? And fuck, that's just the white subcultures.

"cultural privilege meaning anyone who had an AM radio or a TV? you're the one who's arguing from cultural privilege when you namedrop truly obscure musicians"

Your knapsack might be invisible, but man is it heavy.
posted by klangklangston at 3:34 PM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ten to twenty years ago is when you noticed, not when it happened.

my experience of the 60s and 70s was different than whatever it is you read about in a book

Your knapsack might be invisible, but man is it heavy.

so when you're not name dropping to show how "cool" you are you resort to lame and irrelevant cant including some perverse reading of privilege to mean "anyone who has 20 bucks and is able to find a bob dylan cd in a store"

really?

if you had any kind of argument at all you wouldn't be parroting such knee-jerk pc'isms in such a thoughtless way - as if trotting out bromides like that was going to convince anyone who read them
posted by pyramid termite at 4:16 PM on August 16, 2009


Rockism lives.
posted by Bookhouse at 4:58 PM on August 16, 2009


"really?

if you had any kind of argument at all you wouldn't be parroting such knee-jerk pc'isms in such a thoughtless way - as if trotting out bromides like that was going to convince anyone who read them
"

In one of those meta-moments, I'm rolling my eyes at you for the exact same reasons you're rolling your eyes at me. I'm thinking, Jesus, I don't know how I can be more clear: There's no universal remit for shit you think is important to actually be important. And then you go off on how you hate PC or something, like you're Newt Gingrich and you'd rather spend ten minutes being angry grampa than put forth a counter-argument or anything.

But hey, you don't know why I said Kool Herc do ya?
posted by klangklangston at 10:06 PM on August 16, 2009


But hey, you don't know why I said Kool Herc do ya?

I don't either. Please enlighten ...
posted by philip-random at 10:52 PM on August 16, 2009


it's as if we're all pretending that google doesn't exist and someone just couldn't fake it

how dumb
posted by pyramid termite at 10:59 PM on August 16, 2009


One report has him as just trying to find the house where Springsteen wrote "Born To Run". Mefi has discussed him visiting Neil Young's house before, and apparently he took a public tour of John Lennon's as well in the interim.
posted by dig_duggler at 7:26 AM on August 17, 2009


Kool Herc is credited with being the first to extend the break by running two turntables next to each other and switching back and forth. That extended break cleared space for MCs to address the crowd to the beat. There are a lot more influences and histories included in hip hop, but you either know the history of American music your you don't, right?

Grand Wizard Theodore is credited (and this is more disputed than Kool Herc) as the first person to use the scratch in hip hop. Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King are the founding members of Slayer, probably the most important American metal band. Greg Ginn was in Black Flag, ran SST; Ian MacKaye was in Minor Threat and Fugazi, ran Dischord; Martin Rev was in Suicide.
posted by klangklangston at 9:03 AM on August 17, 2009


To understand Bob Dylan's impact as a singer, you have to imagine a world without Tom Waits, Bruce Springsteen, Eddie Vedder, Kurt Cobain, Lucinda Williams or any other vocalist with a cracked voice, dirt-bowl yelp or bluesy street howl.

Is there a name for this particular fallacy? That everything else *influenced* by something would have never occurred if not for that thing? Why couldn’t Waits have been the first vocalist with a “cracked voice”, and if every one requires one before, who came before Dylan, and why could that artist been the precursor for Tom, etc? What nonsense.

Also, putting aside the actual details here (cop knew who Bob Dylan is), I find it amusing that so many people in this thread apparently rate knowing what a musician, however influential, *looks like* alongside appreciation of who they are and what they’ve done. More nonsense. I think I know Dylan's appearance pretty well (though you all realize part of this is the difficulty imagining that someone you encounter in life could be this famous person, no matter how close they look to what you've seen in pictures), and I couldn't tell you about his personal life. Has he been married? To whom? I know some of the stuff his son, Jake, put out, but that's it. Other kids? Girls? Boys? Grandkids? It makes no difference whether I know that stuff or not, nor does it indicate cultural ignorance. His appearance belongs in that camp, not with his music. Goddamn.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:25 AM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Is there a name for this particular fallacy? That everything else *influenced* by something would have never occurred if not for that thing?"

Post hoc ergo propter hoc.
posted by klangklangston at 9:32 AM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Rockism is hilarious. The idea that someone has never heard of Bob Dylan is a little odd, in the sense that if someone said they'd never heard of Michael Jackson, you'd think "That's weird, how have you missed hearing about him?"

But the idea that someone is shamefully ignorant if they don't know about Dylan? Hilariously ironic. Because it is your world that is very small, very insular. There's a lot more to the world than your narrow slice of pop music. Millions and millions of people about whom you are totally ignorant if you think somehow their cultural lives are deprived because they don't include your tiny little spoonful of the vast ocean that is human culture.

I mean, are you even aware that there are lots of people who hardly listen to music at all? And that they are not, in fact, soulless automatons?
posted by straight at 9:37 AM on August 17, 2009


Post hoc ergo propter hoc.

No, I mean, even if I accept the causality/influence there, it's never clear that these other artists would not have arisen even if in a slightly different form. (I say this not knowing if, for example, Waits has ever said something like "If it wasn't for Bob Dylan I would have never stepped up to a mic" -- if he could even know such a thing)
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:56 AM on August 17, 2009


I mean, are you even aware that there are lots of people who hardly listen to music at all? And that they are not, in fact, soulless automatons?

Unless they're deaf, if they don't like/don't care about music "at all", they may not bee soulless automatons but I don't trust them. Period. This doesn't mean they have to luuuuuuv Bobby Dylan (or even know who he is) but please, care deeply, at least on some level, about the very best thing that humans do (make music, that is).
posted by philip-random at 11:37 AM on August 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Kool Herc: 130,000 hits in Google.
Bob Dylan: 21,800,000 hits in Google.

Since (all kinds of) hip-hop and club music are well represented on the internet, as are (all kinds of) folk music, I think the lazy Google count is actually a fair yardstick, here, by which we can conclude that Mr. Zimmerman is approximately 167 times more well-known than Mr. Campbell.

Which also smells about right to me, in terms of how many Americans I'd expect to know who each was. I'd expect 167 people, in a wide spectrum from Mayflower Grandma to an eight year old Chinese immigrant, to know Dylan for every one who knows Herc. (And yes, Britney Spears is better known than either. That also seems 'correct' to me, in that it's what I'd expect.)

That's still a hell of a lot of people recognizing Herc, note, and I'm not slamming his influence.

Both come out significant enough to be mentioned in "Ye Olde Big Historie of All Kindse of American Musick", though they don't really merit the same column length. Dylan would get about sixteen thousand words. Herc would get a hundred or so. Again, if I'm a fake editor, that seems about correct. There's a heck of a lot more to say about Dylan, and you'd really have to stretch to write a comparable amount about Herc.

(If you disagree, go try to expand Herc's wikipedia page to Dylanesque lengths without using filler.)

And yes, Britney's entry would be more controversial than either of those. The poison of recency.
posted by rokusan at 12:48 PM on August 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


I mean, are you even aware that there are lots of people who hardly listen to music at all? And that they are not, in fact, soulless automatons?

Agreed. People who do not listen to or appreciate music at all are soulless.

Great pun, too.
posted by rokusan at 12:50 PM on August 17, 2009


This reminds me of the time I followed a set of footprints to a seedy looking bearded guy in sandals wandering around a low-income, predominantly minority neighborhood.
"What's your name, sir?" I asked him.
"Jesus," he said.
"Ok. What are you doing here?" I asked.
"I'm on tour," he said, "In fulfillment of messianic scripture."

He didn't have any ID. But, turns out? He was carrying me. Remanded him into custody and the fifth province Procurator had him executed.
COPS: ROME - Caught in Judea
posted by Smedleyman at 2:23 PM on August 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


A big hat-tip from me to the NJ police - fine body of men, doing a difficult, often thankless job, but one that's vital to the well-being of society. The idea that Dylan might be wandering the streets, able to creep up and suddenly whine some tuneless lyric into innocent ears is a nightmare that needed to be nipped in the bud with a firm hand.
posted by Phanx at 8:41 AM on September 2, 2009


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