Bob Dylan on London Calling

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Bob Dylan on London Calling

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From his new book ‘The Philosophy of Modern Song’:-

“Punk rock is the music of frustration, and anger, but the Clash are different. Theirs is the music of desperation. They were a desperate group. They have to get it all in. And they have so little time. A lot of their songs are overblown, overwritten, well-intentioned. But not this one. This is probably the Clash at their best and most relevant, their most desperate. The Clash were always the group they imagined themselves to be.”

Love that last line - so true.

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Re: Bob Dylan on London Calling

Post by Flex »

My copy of the book is coming today, I'm excited to dig in on a few particular songs, certainly including LC. Will be, if nothing else, amusing to see what Dylan (who I expect to be in full trickster mode) has to say and how he says it.
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Re: Bob Dylan on London Calling

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I dl'd the audio version but it won't be high up the listening queue—lots of other stuff that holds greater interest.
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Re: Bob Dylan on London Calling

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Dr. Medulla wrote:
01 Nov 2022, 8:34am
I dl'd the audio version but it won't be high up the listening queue—lots of other stuff that holds greater interest.
I started listening to the audiobook this morning while out and about, structurally each chapter takes about 6-10 minutes and reading duties are shared between Bob and a celebrity reader. It's a great setup if you're a Dylan fan, and I think the audio conveys how much humor is cooked into the book. You can practically hear Bob's winks to the reader jumping through your speaker or headphones.

Anyways, even if you don't get to it anytime soon overall, you may want to tune in real quick to the chapter on The Who's My Generation just because Bob pontificates on the nature of changing generations, which I know is up your alley a bit. I enjoyed it.
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Re: Bob Dylan on London Calling

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Flex wrote:
02 Nov 2022, 2:00pm
Dr. Medulla wrote:
01 Nov 2022, 8:34am
I dl'd the audio version but it won't be high up the listening queue—lots of other stuff that holds greater interest.
I started listening to the audiobook this morning while out and about, structurally each chapter takes about 6-10 minutes and reading duties are shared between Bob and a celebrity reader. It's a great setup if you're a Dylan fan, and I think the audio conveys how much humor is cooked into the book. You can practically hear Bob's winks to the reader jumping through your speaker or headphones.

Anyways, even if you don't get to it anytime soon overall, you may want to tune in real quick to the chapter on The Who's My Generation just because Bob pontificates on the nature of changing generations, which I know is up your alley a bit. I enjoyed it.
Hmm, maybe I'll bump it up the queue. Thanks for the tip!
"And so the sailor goes, 'I don’t know, but it’s driving me nuts!'” - Woodrow Wilson to David Lloyd George, Paris Peace Conference, 1 February 1919

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Re: Bob Dylan on London Calling

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joe darkie wrote:
01 Nov 2022, 5:51am
From his new book ‘The Philosophy of Modern Song’:-

“Punk rock is the music of frustration, and anger, but the Clash are different. Theirs is the music of desperation. They were a desperate group. They have to get it all in. And they have so little time. A lot of their songs are overblown, overwritten, well-intentioned. But not this one. This is probably the Clash at their best and most relevant, their most desperate. The Clash were always the group they imagined themselves to be.”

Love that last line - so true.
Interesting comment from he of 17 verses-per-song. Does he go into any more detail about their "overblown, overwritten" material?

I can only assume he's referring to other songs on LC given the context.

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Re: Bob Dylan on London Calling

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msza2 wrote:
02 Nov 2022, 5:43pm
Interesting comment from he of 17 verses-per-song. Does he go into any more detail about their "overblown, overwritten" material?
Haven't gotten to that chapter yet, but I'd guess not. He makes a lot of pretty cheeky claims throughout.
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Re: Bob Dylan on London Calling

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Started listening this morning and am enjoying it more than I expected. There’s a slyness to his prose, zigzagging between the importance of the music but … not too important, just like life. I agree very much with his interpretation of “My Generation” that there’s fear in there, of PT knowing he’ll be old one day, too. But I also see arrogance there, in interpreting value as expiring with youth.
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Re: Bob Dylan on London Calling

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Dr. Medulla wrote:
04 Nov 2022, 10:39am
Started listening this morning and am enjoying it more than I expected. There’s a slyness to his prose, zigzagging between the importance of the music but … not too important, just like life. I agree very much with his interpretation of “My Generation” that there’s fear in there, of PT knowing he’ll be old one day, too. But I also see arrogance there, in interpreting value as expiring with youth.
It feels, funnily enough, like Bob is subverting Greil Marcus' "each scrap of a Dylan tune portends the hidden nature of America and our very souls" shtick. Bob instead finds the street level humanity and connection in these tunes. Whether it's warmth and/or what is often quite funny pulpy luridness. It's obvious he knows his shit (even the stuff he makes up seems rooted in his understanding of the history of this music) and treats it seriously, but not TOO seriously. I have no doubt that taking the piss out of "dylanologist" types is at least one subtle thread in the book.

Agreed with your reaction so far, in general and with My Generation.
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Re: Bob Dylan on London Calling

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Flex wrote:
04 Nov 2022, 10:59am
Dr. Medulla wrote:
04 Nov 2022, 10:39am
Started listening this morning and am enjoying it more than I expected. There’s a slyness to his prose, zigzagging between the importance of the music but … not too important, just like life. I agree very much with his interpretation of “My Generation” that there’s fear in there, of PT knowing he’ll be old one day, too. But I also see arrogance there, in interpreting value as expiring with youth.
It feels, funnily enough, like Bob is subverting Greil Marcus' "each scrap of a Dylan tune portends the hidden nature of America and our very souls" shtick. Bob instead finds the street level humanity and connection in these tunes. Whether it's warmth and/or what is often quite funny pulpy luridness. It's obvious he knows his shit (even the stuff he makes up seems rooted in his understanding of the history of this music) and treats it seriously, but not TOO seriously. I have no doubt that taking the piss out of "dylanologist" types is at least one subtle thread in the book.

Agreed with your reaction so far, in general and with My Generation.
Dammit, I meant to make a Greil Marcus comment, too! I was going to say that what Dylan does here is what Marcus wishes he could pull off (see especially The History of Rock 'n' Roll in Ten Songs), but Marcus can never quite find the pathway out of his rectum. Marcus turns everything into a tortured prog triple-album whereas Dylan writes songs from his examples.
"And so the sailor goes, 'I don’t know, but it’s driving me nuts!'” - Woodrow Wilson to David Lloyd George, Paris Peace Conference, 1 February 1919

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Re: Bob Dylan on London Calling

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I had no idea there was an audio-book version of this, and with material from Bob himself! I can imagine it's a lot of fun, it must be the best way to access his prose. Dylan's sly humour is often masked when you just read him in interviews and the like.
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Re: Bob Dylan on London Calling

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JohnS wrote:
05 Nov 2022, 7:25am
I had no idea there was an audio-book version of this, and with material from Bob himself! I can imagine it's a lot of fun, it must be the best way to access his prose. Dylan's sly humour is often masked when you just read him in interviews and the like.
The one issue I have with Dylan's spoken parts is that it's like he's recorded in a bank vault. Echo-y and distanced. I assume there was a point to it, but I don't care for it.
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Re: Bob Dylan on London Calling

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Dr. Medulla wrote:
05 Nov 2022, 7:30am
JohnS wrote:
05 Nov 2022, 7:25am
I had no idea there was an audio-book version of this, and with material from Bob himself! I can imagine it's a lot of fun, it must be the best way to access his prose. Dylan's sly humour is often masked when you just read him in interviews and the like.
The one issue I have with Dylan's spoken parts is that it's like he's recorded in a bank vault. Echo-y and distanced. I assume there was a point to it, but I don't care for it.
Knowing Dylan, it probably was. 'You want me to read bits of this for an audiobook?! Ok, but I'm only doing it if you record me in... in... er, a bank vault!'
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Re: Bob Dylan on London Calling

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msza2 wrote:
02 Nov 2022, 5:43pm
joe darkie wrote:
01 Nov 2022, 5:51am
From his new book ‘The Philosophy of Modern Song’:-

“Punk rock is the music of frustration, and anger, but the Clash are different. Theirs is the music of desperation. They were a desperate group. They have to get it all in. And they have so little time. A lot of their songs are overblown, overwritten, well-intentioned. But not this one. This is probably the Clash at their best and most relevant, their most desperate. The Clash were always the group they imagined themselves to be.”

Love that last line - so true.
Interesting comment from he of 17 verses-per-song. Does he go into any more detail about their "overblown, overwritten" material?

I can only assume he's referring to other songs on LC given the context.
I respect Dylan's opinions and his own writings, but i think it's interesting that the song about pestilence and nuclear annihilation is the one he absolves from the charge of being overblown and overwritten. Not that I believe it is, mind, but i do look forward to reading his thoughts in full about it.

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Re: Bob Dylan on London Calling

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JohnS wrote:
05 Nov 2022, 7:36am
Dr. Medulla wrote:
05 Nov 2022, 7:30am
JohnS wrote:
05 Nov 2022, 7:25am
I had no idea there was an audio-book version of this, and with material from Bob himself! I can imagine it's a lot of fun, it must be the best way to access his prose. Dylan's sly humour is often masked when you just read him in interviews and the like.
The one issue I have with Dylan's spoken parts is that it's like he's recorded in a bank vault. Echo-y and distanced. I assume there was a point to it, but I don't care for it.
Knowing Dylan, it probably was. 'You want me to read bits of this for an audiobook?! Ok, but I'm only doing it if you record me in... in... er, a bank vault!'
My half-assed guess was that he’s supposed to sound “significant” with the echoes, like the voice of god. But the lo-fi undercuts that, so it’s a bit of a joke there, too. Again, as part of the feel of the book that “this is important … but not that important.”
"And so the sailor goes, 'I don’t know, but it’s driving me nuts!'” - Woodrow Wilson to David Lloyd George, Paris Peace Conference, 1 February 1919

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