One Glance Back
May 12, 2011 5:02 AM   Subscribe

Horace Freeland Judson died last Friday at the age of 80. Though his greatest achievement was The Eighth Day of Creation, a detailed account of modern breakthroughs in molecular biology, he was more famously the haplass TIME reporter harranged at length by Bob Dylan in Don't Look Back.
posted by joannemullen (25 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
“It is as if one were in the classroom with a dozen or so of the world’s greatest biologists, with Mr. Judson acting as the informed student,” he wrote. “We learn as he is learning.”

Because sometimes you do, actually, need a weatherman to know which way the winds blows.
posted by three blind mice at 5:16 AM on May 12, 2011

Good god. I never knew Dylan was such a cock.
posted by londonmark at 5:28 AM on May 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

A photo of a tramp vomiting into a sewer!
posted by box at 5:39 AM on May 12, 2011

I think the Bob Dylan interview reflects more poorly on Mr. Dylan than Mr. Judson. Basically, Dylan says, "You don't understand me. You couldn't understand me. I have no interest in helping you understand me. Your job is crap, but I'm not saying your job is crap. One day you'll be dead, but I'll still be alive. I'll just look the product of what would happen if a homeless person had sex with a scarecrow."
posted by ColdChef at 5:54 AM on May 12, 2011

Also: I love Bob Dylan.
posted by ColdChef at 5:54 AM on May 12, 2011

I know this isn't a Dylan, thread, but wow:

"I know more about what you do--and you don't even have to ask me how or why or anything, just by looking--than you'll ever know about me. ever.... you wouldn't really understand, all you could do is just nod your head."
posted by anotherpanacea at 5:56 AM on May 12, 2011

Dylan is a bit full of himself. The nice thing is, when a rant gets to that point, you can stop being offended or hurt and just be amused and a bit sad that Dylan has come to that.
posted by tomswift at 6:19 AM on May 12, 2011

posted by scrowdid at 6:19 AM on May 12, 2011

Yeah, I can't spell hapless either. I'm having a bad spelling day.
posted by joannemullen at 6:21 AM on May 12, 2011

Never saw the Dylan interview before. Is that why the NYT recently sent Dowd after Bob? Revenge?
posted by fredludd at 6:40 AM on May 12, 2011

“The whole episode was entirely unprovoked,” he said. “That evening, I went to the concert. My opinion then and now was that the music was unpleasant, the lyrics inflated and Dylan a self-indulgent, whining show-off.”

It may have been unprovoked, but I gotta disagree with this. Plus the interview was entertaining, and Dylan had better teeth and hair.

Still, .
posted by iotic at 6:55 AM on May 12, 2011

Basically, Dylan says, "...One day you'll be dead, but I'll still be alive."

posted by Trurl at 7:03 AM on May 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

posted by hal9k at 7:04 AM on May 12, 2011

"One day you'll be dead, and the comments in your Metafilter obituary thread will all be about me."
posted by staggernation at 7:30 AM on May 12, 2011 [9 favorites]

Don't Look Back is Bob Dylan at his most self-absorbed and arrogant. Watching him treat Joan Baez like shit is cringeworthy. But he was what, 25? I was also pretty much the worst at that age, and I had a lot less of myself with which to be full of than Dylan had.
posted by padraigin at 8:57 AM on May 12, 2011

Watching Mr. Judson getting torn a new one by Mr. Zimmerman way back when is similar to watching some of the more horrific Vietnam footage. Hard to bear, but witness must be born. The 60s were a battleground, a fact that was just becoming clear in 1965. And, to put things in perspective, it was the Judsons who had all the influence, all the munitions, all the power. They were The Empire.

So yeah, on a personal level, young Bob was being a dick there. But in the context of the moment, he was a lone guerrilla, struggling to turn the tides. Judson was just unlucky enough to stumble into his cross-hairs.


For him 46 years ago.


For now. Yes, as a matter of fact, a man can die twice.
posted by philip-random at 9:20 AM on May 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Well I hope Mr. Dylan will remember; a molecular biologist don't need him around anyhow.

/no, I didn't think so either.
posted by randomkeystrike at 9:25 AM on May 12, 2011

I've never understood the complaints about Dylan in this "interview". Yeah, he's a little dickish with his domineering tone... but he's absolutely right about everything he says.

And people characterizing it as "You'll be dead and I'll still be alive" is utter bullshit. Dylan tells the reporter that he'll be dead "and so will I". The entire interview can be boiled down to, "In the grand scheme of things the shit I sing and the articles you write mean nothing."

Further, "How can I answer that when you have the nerve to ask me?" is an awesome line and perfectly appropriate when someone asks, "Do you mean what you're saying?"

Personally, I'd much rather watch/read interviews of this type than the shit that passes for most interviews with entertainers these days.
posted by dobbs at 10:28 AM on May 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

I know something's happening, but I don't know what it is.
posted by Rangeboy at 11:14 AM on May 12, 2011

He asked "Do you mean what you're saying?" because Dylan was repeating the phrase: "Every word has a big letter and a little letter." So it seems like a reasonable question, the honest answer to which was "No, I just like to hear myself talk. Can you believe my mutterings count as news? Don't you wish you were reporting on something important, like molecular biology?"
posted by anotherpanacea at 11:47 AM on May 12, 2011

He asked "Do you mean what you're saying?" because Dylan was repeating the phrase: "Every word has a big letter and a little letter."

Actually, no. When the reporter says this he's responding to Dylan saying, "You can't write anything to offend me and I can't do anything to offend you." I've always viewed this interview as Dylan being fed up with all the stupid questions from reporters who quite clearly have no idea who he is but realize that they're *way* out of the loop. They're just now realizing that there is this craze and they didn't see it coming, they don't know what it is, and whatever it is, they're certain it's gonna be over soon. Keep in mind that we come to this interview late--whether Pennebaker caught the previous questions and chose to cut them, we'll never know.

But if you throw away "does the reporter deserve to be spoken to in this way" question--because we do not know the answer--then there is absolutely nothing wrong with what Dylan is saying. What's happening, in my eyes, is that the reporter is stunned at being put in his place by someone he doesn't know, doesn't respect, and doesn't understand. He realizes he's outgunned (just look at the look on his face) and is not used to--as a reporter--being told, "I don't care what you write about me. I don't care about Time magazine. I don't read Time magazine. For what I do, you could not be more insignificant." I'd wager that no one had ever spoken to this reporter this way before--and that no one had ever spoken that way in an interview with any reporter from Time magazine before. The reporter is so bowled over by the concept that he and Time magazine are irrelevant to anyone that his only reaction is to wonder if his subject is being sincere ("Do you really care about what you're saying?"), which of course just further highlights his ignorance and digs his hole deeper.

This interview is a time capsule--a marker--for when, indeed, the times changed dramatically for pop culture. If Dylan didn't know the time was then, he knew it was on the horizon; the reporter hadn't a clue it was coming and was so fundamentally unaware that it was happening that he was oblivious to the possibility that it even could happen.
posted by dobbs at 12:35 PM on May 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

Actually, yes. Watch the interview: Dylan is talking about knowing and Knowing. Like did you ever really Look at your Hand? Or do you just look at your hand?

Being a dick to culture and arts beat reporters may well have been a paradigm shift, but it doesn't seem quite as revolutionary as you're making it out to be. The cult of celebrity isn't a better religion than the cult of the man in the grey flannel suit.
posted by anotherpanacea at 12:46 PM on May 12, 2011

Actually, yes. Watch the interview: Dylan is talking about knowing and Knowing.

I never said that didn't happen. I said that that is not what the reporter is responding to when he asks if Dylan "cares".

Being a dick to culture and arts beat reporters...

Some people--especially culture/arts reporters--need to have their hat handed to them every once in a while, if only to protect them from the elements after the door hits them on their way out. Judson is a perfect example.
posted by dobbs at 5:55 PM on May 12, 2011

"You're not going to make me feel unhappy, you know, by anything you print about me. You couldn't offend me. I'm sure, you know, I couldn't offend you. So, all I can hope for you to do... is... all your ideas in your own head, somehow, where ever they are...."

"Do you care about what you're saying?"

"How can I answer that if you have the nerve to ask me? [crosstalk] I mean you've got a lot of nerve to ask me a question like that! [crosstalk] Do you ask the Beatles that?"

"I have to ask you that because you have the nerve to whether I care--[crosstalk: maybe "whether I can understand why you're not a folk singer"?]."

"I'm not questioning you because I don't expect any answer from you."
It looks to me like Dylan got offended. And after he claimed to be invulnerable to offense! You know? I don't think he was paying much attention to what he was saying. It's almost like he didn't care! "All your ideas in your head or where ever they are"? Gah.
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:12 PM on May 12, 2011

Dylan was eating a lot of speed then. I'm sympathetic to his position, when you see the movie not only does he come across as an awful prick, but you can also see that he's under an immense amount of pressure, not just to entertain, but to prophesize. All of the interviews are kind of horrific, and Dylan keeps trying, throughout them (you can see this on Eat The Document as well) to get out from under being put in the position of both the representative and the pied piper of ALL YOUTH. In that context, Judson is just the guy who asked one stupid question too many. I don't really think it's fair to think of him as just a culture and arts beat reporter here, he's clearly a lackey for a system that was feeling very challenged by the things that it thought Dylan stood for.

But, he was eating a lot of speed.
posted by OmieWise at 6:30 AM on May 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

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