We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Long after most of his contemporaries either died, left the business or held on by the ties of nostalgia, Dylan continues to tour almost continuously and release highly regarded CDs, most recently "Modern Times." Fans, critics and academics have obsessed over his lyrics -- even digging through his garbage for clues -- since the mid-1960s, when such protest anthems as "Blowin' in the Wind" made Dylan a poet and prophet for a rebellious generation.
His songs include countless biblical references and he has claimed Chekhov, Walt Whitman and Jack Kerouac as influences. His memoir, "Chronicles, Volume One," received a National Book Critics Circle nomination in 2005 and is widely acknowledged as the rare celebrity book that can be treated as literature.
According to publisher Simon & Schuster, Dylan is working on a second volume of memoirs. No release date has been set.
Why reporters persist with that "prophet for a rebellious generation" nonsense I don't know. Maybe it's to put the guy in a box with a label. Of course, he is not the corporate guy in the grey flannel suit, but if that's rebellious, then bring it on.
I'd call him a prodigious and ambitiously truth-telling singer-songwriter whose work, over 45 years, covers everything from love to God to war, from joy to despair, and which borrows - or steals - heavily from the Great American Songbook using folk, blues, country blues, country, ditties, jazz, nursery rhymes, rock, and love ballads...not to mention the Great Irish and Great Scottish Songbooks - and from movies, books, and especially from the Bible.
Many folks don't seem to realize that most of Dylan's best stuff is post-60s. We do get a kick out of olde Maggie's Farm though, because all of us have learned to dislike working for other people (what's with the headdresses? Pure loony frivolity, methinks):
I've been collecting documentaries on Dylan's life, and filmed concerts. This is a guy driven to express himself, struggling all his life to find his 'true' voice. A lot of what he did was critical of America, but thank God (who he believed in, for a while anyway) he lived in a country where his efforts would bear fruit.
He was also fortunate to have been born well AFTER the equally driven and prolific Woody Guthrie, or he too might have passed away penniless.
For all his fame and success, what's striking about Dylan is that he never became a prisoner of it, as so many of us do. He has always fought against his constraints, whether they were the constraints of a fairly secure and placid middle-class, middle-American upbringing, or the constraints of the expectations of his fans, handlers, and peers. Arlo Guthrie and Joan Baez and Pete Seeger, musicians Dylan started out with, have played the same type of music to the same type of crowds all heir lives. Not Dylan. He was held in sway to something greater. Still is.