I do try to sometimes just watch the telly without thinking of metaphors for the demise of the church. Last night I watched the BBC4 Arena programme featuring Bob Dylans 3 appearances at the Newport folk festival. As a massive Dylan fan this was quite a treat. I had read many times about these concerts and to see them in such good condition was thrilling.
Dylan was indeed a musical genius, always one step ahead of those around him. When Medger Evers was killed by a white rascist in the early 60s there was a plethora of songs written about the victim, Dylan chose to see it from the killers side, declaring that he too was a victim of a system that was in white folks interests to maintain at any cost.
He was loved at Newport, he was their hero, championing a musical movement that prior to this time had the likes of Peter Paul and Mary singing ancient English songs about outlaws being hanged or Pete Seegers lamenting the plight of the negro in the 19th century slave industry.
Dylan made it cool to be a folky.
And then he plugged his guitar in and started protesting in different ways about different things and how did they treat him? What support did they give the man who had for all intents and purposes was American Folk music? None. They booed him off the stage until he came back with his acoustic guitar, seemingly humbled back into the Dylan they wanted to see. But this was a different Dylan, one who had moved on and was not going back.
“…the vagabond who’s rapping at your door,
is standing in the clothes that you once wore.
Strike another match go start a new.
And it’s all over now baby blue”