Thursday, July 17, 2008

Happy or Blessed?

Alan Jacobs is from Alabama and is a professor at Wheaton College in Illinois. He recently blogged about Dylan in his post "The Songs Are My Lexicon". Here is a really great snippet:


"And this plays into what I think is especially important about Dylan, that he is one of the few truly great figures in American popular culture--Duke Ellington was another--who has never forgotten that he himself isn't what it's all about. In some ways Dylan's most consistent message has been, simply, "It ain't me, babe, its ain't me you're looking for, babe." Dylan never lets you turn him into a graven image to worship. [italics mine] That's part of the reason for his elusiveness and his tendency to transform himself: you couldn't make a graven image out of quicksilver even if you could catch it. Which you can't. But his music and his lyrics are always pointing us towards a great tradition of morality and spirituality that are simply bigger than any rock star could ever be. Dylan knows that, and tries to teach it to us. That's why my favorite moment from a Dylan interview came in 1991, when Rolling Stone interviewed Dylan on the occasion of his fiftieth birthday. When the interviewer asked him if he was happy, Dylan gave a curious but utterly characteristic response:
He fell silent for a few moments and stared at his hands. "You know," he said, "these are yuppie words, happiness and unhappiness. It's not happiness or unhappiness, it's either blessed or unblessed. As the Bible says, 'Blessed is the man who walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly.'"

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