Boris, Zane and the Sad Legacy of Mr Zimmerman

Watched “I’m Not There”, the Todd Haynes Bob Dylan movie. It’s good. Still think Bowie’s better, actually I think a lot of people are better, but it did get at what’s good about Dylan or at least what I like about Bob Dylan. Which, sort of boils down to a skinny dude with shades chatting bollocks-that-maybe-genius. Some of the best scenes are those where Cate Blanchett as 65-66 era Dylan (big hair, tight trousers, shades, speed, speed, speed) runs rings around the staid Mr Jones’s of the British press. He/she’s skinny mercury, the ultimate ironist, the press have their questions and their beliefs but you can’t pin Bob down. No way. Bob is everything and nothing. Bob is too damn cool to be put on the spot. Made me feel kinda worried. You see I got real in there, got in that mid sixties place, I wondered what the press would do. The genie had been let out of Pandora’s motherfucking box and didn’t look too keen on getting back in; if you can’t trust your protest singers to toe a decent line who could one trust? The pressmen would have to catch up. If they wanted to catch their prey they’d have to get some irony up in the joint asap.


I came to senses. It’s the first week of May in the year of our lord two thousand and eight and Boris Johnson is the mayor of old London town. Ah, the old forces of the old and staid have not been vanquished! All is well with the world. No, no don’t be so hasty, this affable games-show host won because he defied the system! Like Dylan you never quite know what he’s going to say, you can’t quite tell where he’s gonna land, but you’re gonna enjoy the ride and whadya know there might be some laughs along the way! He’s not like that Red Ken, man, someone should wake him up; Newport happened, we’ve gone electric. You were ahead of the pack in 1999 but now you’re at the back.

Everyone’s Bob Dylan now. Sure, Alex Zane isn’t going to write “One Of Us Must Know (Sooner Or Later)” but he’s not going to get out irony-ied by no pop star. Bob was the cosmic jester interrogated by squares, now we all know how to play that card. Nothing is to be taken serious; it’s cats in mittens jumping through hoops of Ezra Pound. It’s eating dinner before lunch and not enjoying it anyway. It’s a mercury world without substances or essences. It’s saying everything with a smirk that says you can’t touch me.

You can’t touch me because I’m not there.


One thought on “Boris, Zane and the Sad Legacy of Mr Zimmerman

  1. I first heard Dylan in 1963. At the record store I put the headphones on and I knew all the covers, I just could hardly believe someone cuould take these songs that I thought were classics and make them contemporary.

    And amid all those songs of enlightenment, I found that I liked Rosemary, Lilly and the Jack of Hearts the best, just because I liked how he tells the story. But after Blood on the Tracks, I quit listening to new Dylan.
    I guess his message is that anywhere you can steal is ok if you creatively build on it.

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