Category Archives: Commentary on current events

Age of Light Update

Back in the year of our Lord two thousand and eight, on November the fourth, Barack Obama was elected to the presidency of the United States. Bob Dylan happened to be playing a show in Minnesota that night, and came back for his final encore obviously having heard the news backstage on how the electoral contest was going. He introduced his band as he normally did and then made some off-the-cuff comments, which were covered back then in this space in excruciating (although highly accurate) detail.

So, in total, he said:

I wanna introduce my band right now. On the guitar, there’s Denny Freeman. Stu Kimball is on the guitar too. Donny Herron as well, on the violin right now, playin’ on the steel guitar earlier. George Recile’s playin’ on the drums.

Tony Garnier, wearin’ the Obama button — [applause] alright! — Tony likes to think it’s a brand new time right now. An age of light. Me, I was born in 1941 — that’s the year they bombed Pearl Harbor. Well, I been livin’ in a world of darkness ever since.

But it looks like things are gonna change now …

Change was the thing: it was “hope and change,” the theme of Barack Obama’s campaign, as older readers might remember.

Dylan’s remarks caused quite a hoopla, hailed ’round the world as an optimistic endorsement of the new president, who would clear away all of that post-Pearl-Harbor darkness for Bob and for everyone.

We took a different view here, as expounded upon in that post way back then. In short we thought Dylan was being ironic and philosophical rather than triumphalist.

Things always change, of-course. And things have changed. An age of light? With all respect to Tony Garnier’s touching optimism, I think there is now probably exactly no one who would say the past eight years have been an age of light (albeit that we may have wildly varying reasons for saying so).

I was greatly struck, and still am, by Bob Dylan’s performance at President Obama’s White House in February of 2010 (just one year into that presidency), billed as a “Celebration of Music from the Civil Rights Era.” He showed up and played only one song, “The Times They Are a-Changin'”; not as a celebratory duet with Joan Baez (who was also there that night) but in a new, spare, and quite melancholy arrangement.

There’s a lot that could be said, on January 19th, 2017, but it would be way too much. Those times, they sure just do keep on a-changin’. (And that I can tell you.)

Pete Seeger: Never too old to support the wrong cause

It’s being reported that Pete Seeger, the 92 year-old folk/protest singer, has now joined the BDS movement. Some of you might say: “Well, I’m not really surprised that Pete Seeger would have Bush Derangement Syndrome, but isn’t this a bit tardy on his part?” Unfortunately, this BDS is even worse than that one. It stands for “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions,” and is all about ostracizing, punishing and ultimately destroying the state of Israel.

Even on the flagship website for the movement, you will have a hard time finding what it is — specifically speaking — that Israel would have to do to satisfy the Boycott/Divestment/Sanction folks. In the end, while it begins with a call for “self-determination” for Palestinians (about which Israel has openly been willing to negotiate for years, but lacking a willing partner) the goals are designed to be amorphous, so that the “movement” can just continue until Israel is completely gone. And so it’s just another iteration of the oldest hatred in the world. Continue reading “Pete Seeger: Never too old to support the wrong cause” »

West of the Jordan, East of the Rock of Gibraltar

It sure is a Groom’s Still Waiting at the Altar kind of time, looking out on the Middle East, with regime’s crumbling, protesters being machine-gunned, buildings burning, blood flowing.

Prayed in the ghetto with my face in the cement
Heard the last moan of a boxer, seen the massacre of the innocent
Felt around for the light switch, felt around for her face
Been treated like a farm animal on a wild goose chase

West of the Jordan, east of the Rock of Gibraltar,
I see the turnin’ of the page, curtain rising on a new age
I see the groom’s still waiting at the altar

I had no idea that there were versions of Groom’s Still Waiting At the Altar by Elkie Brooks and by Rod Stewart, but I found them on YouTube this morning. Arguably better than either of those, however, is the one embedded here by a combo calling themselves Ultimate Outlet. Continue reading “West of the Jordan, East of the Rock of Gibraltar” »

Charlie Louvin, 1927 – 2011

Charlie Louvin, of the world-famous Louvin Brothers, has died at the age of 83. (His brother, Ira, died in a car accident back in 1965.) An article from Reuters is at this link. May he rest in peace.

Bob Dylan cited Christmas With The Louvin Brothers as his favorite album of the Yuletide season (with good reason, because it is absolutely killer). And there were a variety of other Dylan connections and mentions, some cited today by Harold Lepidus at the Bob Dylan Examiner.

As long it’s heard, the Louvins’ music will always be inspirational, and there’s no higher praise than that.

If it quacks like a duck

Thanks to Bob W. who tipped me to the fact that yesterday’s “Mallard Fillmore” cartoon strip features a Bob Dylan reference. If you go to this link it’s the top pane (at least today it is), the one titled “Mallard’s 2011 New Year Prediction #41.”

For those who don’t know, “Mallard Fillmore” is a syndicated comic strip which appears daily in a variety of U.S. newspapers. It has a distinct conservative tilt. Today’s strip is not too subtle: political correctness is in Mallard’s cross-hairs — a favorite target of his.

Mallard looks into his crystal ball and predicts “CBS will try Katie Couric’s suggestion and launch a Muslim-themed sitcom that will attract aging baby boomers … by using Bob Dylan’s “Everybody Must Get Stoned” as its theme song.”

Referring to the actual song title, Rainy Day Women # 12 & 35, would not have worked, as it wouldn’t have served well as the intended double-entendre to readers, evoking both the the affection for being stoned that is associated with the ’sixties generation and the fact that the penalty of death for crimes against Islam is still widely adhered to in the Muslim world. Continue reading “If it quacks like a duck” »