June 20th 2008 05:37:55 PM
“Bob Dylan: for many, his work symbolises the 1960s revolution”
His 1964 track ‘The Times They are a-Changin’ became the anthem for his generation, symbolising the era-defining social struggle against the establishment.
Now Bob Dylan - who could justifiably claim to be the architect of Barack Obama’s ‘change’ catchphrase - has backed the Illinois senator to do for modern America what the generation before did in the 1960s.
In an exclusive interview with The Times, published in T2 today, Dylan gives a ringing endorsement to Mr Obama, the first ever black presidential candidate, claiming he is “redefining the nature of politics from the ground up”.
Dylan, 67, made the comments when being interviewed in Denmark, where he stopped over in a hotel during a tour of Scandinavia.
Asked about his views on American politics, he said: “Well, you know right now America is in a state of upheaval. Poverty is demoralising. You can’t expect people to have the virtue of purity when they are poor.
“But we’ve got this guy out there now who is redefining the nature of politics from the ground up…Barack Obama.
“He’s redefining what a politician is, so we’ll have to see how things play out. Am I hopeful? Yes, I’m hopeful that things might change. Some things are going to have to.”
Dylan’s endorsement contains much symbolic significance. The legendary singer-songwriter, who has an art exhibition opening in London next week, became a focal point for young people worldwide when he released the album ‘The times they are a-changin’,” including the famous song of that name, in 1964.
The track, which he wrote as the social liberation of the ’60s astonished politicians and parents, included lines urging people to accept and embrace what was happening around them.
Memorable lines included: “Come senators, congressmen, please heed the call. Don’t stand in the doorway, don’t block up the hall,” and: “Come mothers and fathers throughout the land, and don’t criticise what you can’t understand. Your sons and your daughters are beyond your command. Your old road is rapidly agin’.”
Here’s what parents and even the most corrupt politicians understand, which the children don’t: If you think your society is broken now, wait ’til you try to “fix” it. But apparently the 67 year-old Bob Dylan is still a child.
Getting to the point: So this is what it takes for Bob Dylan — who never voiced public support or condemnation for a single politician, who refrained from joining the anti-Bush and anti-Iraq War din, and who resisted enormous peer pressure to join the Vietnam anti-war movement in the midst of the upheaval that his songs were iconic for — this is what it takes for him to finally become political and join the club:
He waits until there’s a candidate who is supported by Hamas, Hezbollah and the entire Arab and Muslim world; who has surrounded himself with anti-Semites and Israel-bashers including some who associate with Hamas; who had an anti-Semitic pastor for more than a decade; who belonged to an anti-white, anti-Israel church that honors Louis Farrakhan — this, Dylan decides, is the guy for him!
Or the Sing Out! interview from July of 1968, where fellow musician Happy Traum is pressing Dylan to say something (anything!) against the war, to give some clue of agreement with the anti-war activists:
Traum: Probably the most pressing thing going on in a political sense is the war. Now I’m not saying any artist or group of artists can change the course of the war, but they still feel it their responsibility to say something.
Dylan: I know some very good artists who are for the war.
Traum: Well, I’m just talking about the ones who are against it.
Dylan: That’s like what I’m talking about; it’s for or against the war. That really doesn’t exist. It’s not for or against the war. I’m speaking of a certain painter, and he’s all for the war. He’s just about ready to go over there himself. And I can comprehend him.
Traum: Why can’t you argue with him?
Dylan: I can see what goes into his painting, and why should I?
Later in the interview:
Traum: My feeling is that with a person who is for the war and ready to go over there, I don’t think it would be possible for you and him to share the same values.
Dylan: I’ve known him a long time, he’s a gentleman and I admire him, he’s a friend of mine. People just have their views. Anyway, how do you know that I’m not, as you say, for the war?