Bob Dylan and Marx

August 2021 Forums General discussion Bob Dylan and Marx

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 17 total)
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  • #219245
    alanjjohnstone
    Participant

    Marx in the Afterlife, According to Bob Dylan

    There are some who still rate this mumbling minstrel as politically prophetic.

    #219246
    ALB
    Keymaster

    Hardly surprising. He might have been a counter-cultural icon in the 1960s but went off the rails when he became a born again Christian in 1979. I don’t think he produced anything worthwhile after that, certainly nothing counter cultural, did he? But he must have pleased someone as they gave him a Prize named after a Master of War.

    #219255
    Bijou Drains
    Participant

    I am always surprised when people expect their musicians to be prophetic, politically insightful or worthy of very hard scrutiny. Generally they are none of those things, they are musicians. They make songs and play instruments.

    It’s a bit like when Question Time invite comedians onto their show, most of the time they are full of the same kind of shite that the politicians are, although they might be able to produce it in a slightly more amusing way. It doesn’t mean that I can’t find some of the stuff some comics funny.

    In the same way I have low expectations for musicians when it comes to political insight, once in a while one of them does come up with some profound political stuff (won’t get folled again by The Who, or If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next by The Manics, for example), but most of the time the political stuff they produce is horse shit.

    I do think it’s a bit harsh to say Bob Dylan has done nowt worthwhile since ’79 though, Infidels had it’s moments, Oh Mercy was another good album, Good as I Been to You was ok and did include a version of “Arthur McBride” (not as good as the version I remember being sung one night after conference though) and I really liked Rough and Rowdy ways.

    #219259
    Matthew Culbert
    Keymaster

    In any case, he is a poyet and he knoyet.

    His ‘Chimes of Freedom’ a master of poetical abstraction and a counterblast to Simon and Gurfunkels ‘American Tune’.

    I don’t recall him ever calling himself a counter-cultural icon.

    His lyrics are great. His poetry magic and his sounds and reworking of blues, country, and folk imaginative.
    His musical influences are all evident to hear in his radio, podcast things on YouTube.

    I liked especially in his early ‘Times are changing’ album one, ‘When the Ship Comes In’.. A bit leaderist he uses biblical images as Marx did, but the line “They’ll raise their hands and say we’ll meet all your demands but we’ll shout from the bows your days are numbered, But like Pharaoh’s pride they’ll be drownded in the tide and like Goliath, they’ll be conquered”, resonates with me.
    I frighten people singing it going past on my new Vespa-style mobility scooter.

    #219260
    Wez
    Participant

    For me the master of polemical music was Gil Scott Heron. Listen to his song Vildgolia from the Bridges album to see what I mean.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDxSDYbj9Zc

    #219261
    ALB
    Keymaster

    Yes I remember there was a bit of a cult of Dylan in the Party in the late 60s. According to the November 1968 Socialist Standard, on Sunday 3 November there was a talk in Glasgow on “Changing Times of Bob Dylan”. I don’t know if you were there, Matt. I think the same talk was also given in London.

    #219285
    Matthew Culbert
    Keymaster

    I like Heron’s stuff too. I can’t always hear the lyrics, unfortunately being deaf. I am picking these up better on headphones. I like the sounds. I saw him at a gig in Edinburgh.
    My partner slags me off sometimes for singing words I think I’m hearing.
    Too painful to give you an example. 😉

    #219286
    Matthew Culbert
    Keymaster

    It was 1972 when I joined the party so I don’t recall this but Glasgow members had a wide range of musical tastes and some diverse talents also.

    #219289
    paula.mcewan
    Participant

    Well I might be alone here, but Bob Dylan is a brilliant poet, wrote beautiful melodies, and is revered as the greatest song writer of our generation. Ok he didn’t sign up to the SPGB, he flirted with Christianity, he can’t sing. But he loved his cat, he was quite romantic, and he spoke up for the poor immigrant. I can’t remember all of the Keats and Wordsworth etc from school, with their Urns and Nightingales and whatnot, but I’ll not forget Dylan singing about his love beating like a hammer, she’s like some raven at his window with a broken wing. If Glasgow Branch had “a bit of a cult” for Dylan in the 1960s – well good for that branch!

    #219291
    alanjjohnstone
    Participant

    I’ll keep to politics rather than the poetry

    Dylan and JFK assassination.

    ‘Murder Most Foul’, an example of his eulogizing

    How different when just weeks after LHO shot JFK, Dylan could say at the Tom Paine Award speech.

    “…I got to admit that the man who shot President Kennedy, Lee Oswald, I don’t know exactly where – what he thought he was doing, but I got to admit honestly that I too – I saw some of myself in him. I don’t think it would have gone – I don’t think it could go that far. But I got to stand up and say I saw things that he felt, in me – not to go that far and shoot. (Boos and hisses) You can boo but booing’s got nothing to do with it…”

    #219314
    Bijou Drains
    Participant

    An oft overlooked song lyric which most Socialists would support is “Walls come tumbling down” by the Style Council (although Weller was a Labourite at the time)

    “You don’t have to take this crap
    You don’t have to sit back and relax
    (You can actually try changing it)

    I know we’ve always been taught to rely
    Upon those in authority
    But you never know until you try
    How things just might be
    (If we came together so strongly, yeah)

    Are you gonna try to make this work
    Or spend your days down in the dirt
    You see things can change
    Yes an’ walls come tumbling down

    (Governments crack and systems fall
    ‘Cause unity is powerful)
    Lights go out
    Walls come tumbling down

    Yes, they do
    (Yes, they do)
    Yes, they do
    (Yes, they do)

    The competition is a color TV
    We’re on still pause with the video machine
    (That keep you slaves to the H.P., yeah)

    Until the unity is threatened by
    Those who have and who have not
    Those who are with and those who are without
    And dangle jobs like a donkey’s carrot
    (Until you don’t know where you are)

    Are you gonna get to realize
    The class war’s real, not mythologized
    And like Jericho
    Yes, the walls came tumbling down

    (Governments crack and systems fall)
    (‘Cause unity is powerful)
    Lights go out
    Walls come tumbling

    (Down) You’ll be too weak to fight it
    (Down) [?]
    (Down) Oh, will you deny it?

    Are you gonna be threatened by
    The public enemies number ten
    Those who play the power game
    They take the profits, you take the blame
    (When they tell you there’s no rise in pay)

    Are you gonna try to make this work
    Or spend your days down in the dirt
    You see things can change
    Walls come tumbling down

    (Governments crack and systems fall)
    (‘Cause unity is powerful)
    Lights go out
    Walls come tumbling down”

    #219525
    paula.mcewan
    Participant

    Did not realise you were such a fan of JFK Alan

    #219526
    Matthew Culbert
    Keymaster

    Did not realise you were such a fan of JFK Alan

    I think I take it he is a fan of arguing for revolutionary social change rather than indulging in political assassination.

    #219527
    Matthew Culbert
    Keymaster

    I’ll keep to politics rather than the poetry

    Your choice obviously. The quote is confused as anything.

    I never do so with Dylan. This grants him some artistic license.

    I think he is a decent sort of person, who is and was, on the side of the oppressed and underdog.

    Politically he rides different horses with the one ideologically compromised ass.

    When he gets it nearly right I love him, but other times he is an ass.

    Well, he is a musician and a poet, and a lyricist and it is all infused with sounds that are just right for me from folk to bluegrass, blues, jazz, rock.

    #219528
    alanjjohnstone
    Participant

    What I am, Paula, is an informed debunker of those who believe in all the conspiracy claims that Oswald did not act alone or was even innocent and framed as a patsy. I’ve heard them all over the years.

    Matt, knowing me, you know I like to rattle the bars of the cages so to upset many I say – “LHO Did It. JFK Deserved It”

    And Dylan appeared to be once sympathetic to that view.

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