American Writers, Supplement XVIII by Jay Parini

By Jay Parini

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I don’t have to condense or restrict my thoughts into a song pattern. (p. 59) Expressing a preference for writing poetry, Dylan simultaneously distinguishes between endeavors. Poetry and songwriting, he implies, even his own and despite the opinion of most of his fans, are different kinds of writing. ” On the other hand, “LPs were like the force of gravity. They had covers, back and front, that you could stare at for hours” (p. 35). In full-length records, if not in singles, Dylan saw a possibility for something equivalent to literature, at least in the mystique and authority of covers—covers of books, covers of LPs.

Dylan later composed a letter in verse apologizing, not for the substance of his comments but for obstructing the intake of charitable dollars from a suddenly uncharitable crowd. He tried to explain the awkward sense of guilt that he felt about the 25 BOB DYLAN enjoying, Butterfield’s electrified blues earlier in the festival’s proceedings, furthermore if plugged-in tracks drew none of the same ire in receptions of Bringing It All Back Home, the crowd’s recoil must have stemmed at least partly from other causes.

A. Pennebaker, documenting the commotion of Dylan’s abrupt and enormous fame in what would become Dont Look Back (1967) and Eat the Document (1972). Pennebaker’s dominant venture in the first of these documentaries was to reveal the contrasts and narrate the tensions between an uptight, aging establishment (largely represented by members of the press) and a hip, enthusiastic, liberated younger generation. In the second film, however, the same youthful crowds discover their own capacity for cantankerousness as they criticize and indeed boo Dylan’s new, loud, plugged-in performances.

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