‘What is this shit‘?‘ The question
introduced a Rolling Stone review of Bob Dylan’s 1970 album SelfPortrait which had him singing a large number ofother people‘s songs and offering very few new compositions of his own. The artist who five years earlier had (as Time magazine put it) ‘kicked rock song writing on its head’
with the richly textured lyrics of
‘Like a Rolling Stone‘ was viewed as creatively past it. reduced to covering numbers like the Rogers and Hart ‘Blue Moon'. But back in May 1966. when Dylan sang ‘Like a Rolling Stone‘ at Edinburgh‘s ABC Theatre. the Scottish Daily Mail had been on hand to report that ‘Dylan faces a second night ofcatcalls‘. The first night had been at Glasgow ()deon. And four years on from Self Portrait there were some five million
ticket applications for Dylan‘s 1974 North American tour. Move to 1979 and Newsweek magazine reports of another North American tour in which Dylan sings his new Christian material: ‘First came the catcalls. then. . . boos‘. Dylan‘s Christian album Slow Train Coming ( I979) became one ofhis platinum records. Dylan has had a peculiar career. His music shows a remarkably eclectic mixture ofstyles. from white folk. black rural and city blues and commercial popular song. to symbolist. modernist and beat poetry. nursery-rhyme and the King James Bible. It has been a career characterised above all else by the relentless adoption and abandonment ofdifferent lyrical and musical stances; so that looking back
I over 27 years and 34 officially
The stature of Bob Dylan. who plays a sold-out SECC on Tuesday 6. has reached such a high level that the 48 year-old spokesman for the ‘Thirtysomething‘
generation is not only a rock legend but considered
worthy ofstudying on the same level
as the literary giants.
Aidan Day applauds Dylan‘s genius. ifnot his consistency (above): John Bauldie of Dylanzine The
(below) and we hear
Telegraph explains his fascination the views of some people who
may or may not have felt
the Times a-Changin‘ (right)
DYLAN IN GLASGOW
THROUGH THE WIRE
Since autumn 1981 ‘The
7 Telegraph' has provided
Dylan aficionados with an unparalleled source of information and analysis. Founded by former English Literature lecturer John
Bauldie (now a staff writer ' on ‘0' magazine). it's grown
from small beginnings into
a bound. A5-sized
periodical with ‘healthily
'. respectful‘ articles and
interviews with virtually anyone who has known or
_ worked with Dylan in any
6 The list 2 15 .lune l‘)t\")
‘It started.’ explains Bauldie. ‘because round aboutthattime the pop music press had just about lost interest in Dylan. though he was still playing a lot of shows and recording. It was very difficult to get information
about what was happening. so it basically started as an information service, a newsletter.‘
‘The Telegraph’ now has a print run of 2000. distributed worldwide. and the contributors will bristle at the description of it as a ‘lanzine'. Bauldie agrees that it seems to have more in common with an academic journal than a famine or even a magazine like ‘0'. but sees no harm in it.
‘Without necessarily being too po-faced. I've always wanted there to be an opportunity for Dylan‘s work to be taken seriously,
released albums is to look back over a bewildering series of personae. There was the Dylan who crashed the Greenwich village folk scene in New York at the outset of the Sixties. whose political songs galvanised and became anthems for the New Left movement. who sang 'Blowing in the Wind‘ at Martin Luther Kings 1963 Civil Rights March on Washington. Then in 1965 (skipping several twists in the story) Dylan sang ‘You don‘t need a weather man/ To know which way the wind blows‘ (‘Subterranean Homesick Blues‘) and replaced caustic political verse with acid surrealism. acoustic instruments with rock electronics. With albums like Bringing It A ll Back Home
( 1965) High way ()1 Revisited and Blonde on Blomle( 1966). Dylan
outlawed himself from his purist folk and protest following (picking up some catcalls in Edinburgh on the way) and generated an audience responsive to arcane \ ision and poetic alienation. ‘Your sons and your daughters’A re beyond your command” Dylan had warned an
older generation in a song written in
1963 (‘The Times They Are
# A-(‘hangin‘). discovering by 1966
that "The harmonicas play the skeleton keys and the rain, And
3 these visions ofJohanna are now all
that remain‘ (‘Visions ofJohanna‘). But what do you do when you‘ve
'; become the poetic navigator of a whole new cultural wavc'.’ Well. obviously. you go to Nashville and
Dob Dylan snapped in aurare photograph among the Glasgow crowds during his 1966 tour.
sink the dreams of your high~Sixties‘ fans by recording sublimely banal country songs ( ‘l’eggy Day stole my
41m Hutchesoh. bookand
and because he occupies a strange zone where. even after all these years and so much work. it's very difficult for him to be spoken of using the kind of terms that you would use to speak of a writer who didn‘t use music in his work.‘
If it all sounds unpleasantly reminiscent of thelan who wentthrough Dylan‘s dustbin looking for clues to the secrets of his work. points out Bauldie. think how the world would beat a path to the door olan academic who uncovered the contents of Shakespeare‘s dustbin.
‘llsomeone has allthe
first editions of Charles Dickens. someone who pores overT.S. Eliot's manuscripts forword changes. these people become world authorities and are given prolessorships at American Universities. But if somebody does it with Bob Dylan they‘re looked on as being oddball obsessives.‘ ‘The Telegraph' is published three timesa year. and is available fora £12 subscription only. from Wanted Man Publications. PO Box 22. Romford. Essex RM21 28F.
record sleeve designer
.lirn designed the coy "r for Men On Ice. a book of poems by Andrew ( ircig. which w as given as a present to Dylan. whose comment on receiving it was. ‘I like the pictures.‘
‘l le'saclassie lyricist.one of the great bards of the letlicentury liealmost singlehandcdly introduced a generation to ly'l'lc‘s‘.
lﬂeslgys_hru_m. Professor of Sociology at Louisiana University. on sabbatical in Scoﬂand.
‘l lc has a crummy voice by
any definition. he was