David Walsh (WSWS) takes on the ceremony and Dylan. There are parts I disagree with, parts I applaud but the whole thing is worth reading. Here's a sample:
Dylan, as is well-known, admired singer Woody Guthrie, the left-wing folk performer identified with the struggles of the oppressed during the Depression, and also paid considerable attention at the time to other folk and popular strands of music. Moreover, few popular performers in US history, certainly not in several decades, had had some familiarity at least with serious artistic figures such as Brecht, Rimbaud and others.
In addition, through his interaction with fellow performers such as Dave Van Ronk—a sympathizer of the Trotskyist movement—and others, as well as his personal relationship with the daughter of former Communist Party members and herself at one point associated with the (Maoist) Progressive Labor Party, Dylan had a brush, in any case, with anti-capitalist positions.
This combination of increasingly volatile times, which demanded to be articulated, and an aggressive, intelligent, quasi-poetic rebelliousness created something unusual, which resonated with a good many people.
Much of Dylan’s music does not stand up. It is too careless, self-indulgent and often not interesting musically. The “poetic” qualities of his language, so highly praised in the 1960s, generally seem strained and unfocused, on occasion simply foolish, today.
In any event, the singer jumped ship politically decades ago, even before the mass anti-Vietnam War protests of the late 1960s, in which he played no role. Dylan responded to the narrowness of the Stalinist-influenced folk music world, and its disapproval of his particular musical-artistic evolution, by throwing the baby out with the bathwater in the manner of a rather conventional American anti-communist. He disavowed any interest in “protest” or politics, past or present, declaring a plague on everyone’s house, and increasingly cast his lot in with the mainstream music scene. Of course some will disagree, but I find it difficult to point to an urgent or compelling album in the past 45 years.
Dylan’s gravitation toward Christian fundamentalism, Judaism, Zionism and no doubt a good many more –isms over the past decades has been well recorded. His appearance at the White House on Tuesday came as absolutely no surprise, even if one cannot help but register disappointment in regard to someone who once genuinely stood out. The May 29 ceremony simply put the finishing and very public touch to a protracted process of moral and artistic decay.
I feel for Walsh. The first time I was attacked online was for noting that Dylan wasn't all of that which led a professional writer to have a meltdown in a series of awful e-mails to me. Then he and his girlfriend tried to pull C.I. into it, then . . .
Hopefully, his critique won't result in so much nonsense.
Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"