The October 2nd edition of the Weekly Standard has a piece titled “What Dylan Is Not (Poet Laureate of the left, for one).” Hmm, sounds like something I’d write. Oh, wait — it is something I wrote. That’s a relief. It’s behind the subscriber-only wall, so you can only read the first fifteen lines or so online. The theme would not be unfamiliar to regular readers of this website, but it’s written for a broader audience and I’m naturally glad to have it in there. If you’re looking for it on the news stands, it’s the edition with George Allen and a monkey on the cover. There’s also a great piece by Lee Harris on the papal controversy, which you can read in full on the website.
A short extract of my Dylan piece:
It’s an interesting paradox. Looking at the record, Vietnam should have been the wedge that forced the left to reject Dylan as a matter of dogma, because he failed to give them anything that they demanded from him, and actually gave them the opposite of what they wanted.
Instead, the Vietnam war is the seemingly unbreakable link that ties Dylan to the left in the popular consciousness. Consider: Dylan wrote no songs about the Vietnam war during the 1960s. Zero. The songs Dylan wrote that antiwar protesters later seized upon (from Blowin’ in the Wind on down) were written when the Vietnam war was little more than a twinkle in John F. Kennedy’s eye. A close study of those songs would also reveal, as Dylan himself has stated in so many words, that they are not “antiwar” songs, as such. Just as with all his best work, they are based upon an almost unerring sense of human nature and a remarkable ability to ask questions that provoke revealing answers in the listener.
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