Where's Bob Dylan now

1. Bob Dylan - a legend of the protest movement

Dylan's career as a folk rock musician is based on a new myth that he is
like no one else could stage. He appeared to be more youthful
Prophet who preaches the truth unadulterated. Dylan designs this
Myth first with the means of a consciously employed musical
Dillettantism. He never tried to improve his skills as a musician
cultivate. He often sings wrongly on purpose, plays the guitar on average
and can often be summed up in a mundane stereotypical sort of a combo
accompany. Dylan's unpretentious way of making records includes one
secret message immediately understood by "the movement". Was here
someone who was not concerned with the appearance, but solely with the content.
Dylan had something to say to the world. He hit the mark with his protest songs
the zeitgeist and the attitude to life of the rebellious 68 students and
Hippie movement.
Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger led the way and Bob Dylan, Leonard
Cohen and Joan Baez the idols of this "movement" that goes beyond the
bourgeois-stuffy mainstream culture an alternative, libertarian
Society wished.

2. The countercultural movement of the "Woodstock" generation

In the so-called "Woodstock" generation there was a positive spirit of optimism
emerged that the bourgeois-bourgeois establishment rejected. The
consumer-oriented materialism of the Eisenhower era appeared
growing generation more and more questionable. This positive development
became through the murder of John F. Kennedy - the great popular figure of the
young generation - abruptly interrupted in 1963. When America entered the
When the Vietnam War occurred, this triggered a deep shock in the
Civil rights movement. The ideals of America as the land of the unlimited
Possibilities and as pioneers of progress and freedom were in question
posed. The consequence was the mass increase in American
Young people and students from civil society and the withdrawal
into inwardness. This exodus of a whole generation was focused
now on the establishment of a "counterculture". The student revolt was
visibly depoliticized. Participation in the anti-Vietnam demonstrations
corresponded to the consensus to turn your back on society, the protest
focused on rejecting civic norms like cleanliness,
Diligence, education and the refusal of any consumption.

3. Dylan as an angry prophet of the alternative movement

Dylan created a whole new musical aesthetic that works amazingly well
spread the medium of record. Dylan's early recordings
convey a degree of authenticity that is otherwise seldom audible on records
is. His piercing, nasal voice reveals the artificiality of the
Forgotten medium. The whole myth of the angry prophet comes immediately
expressed through his rasping voice.
Dylan promoted them at an early stage in his musician career
Legends about his person. He, the one for millions of young people in the 68s
Movement became a political and moral leading figure, gave its own
Never reveal identity. Dylan was from a Jewish woman
Middle class family in Duluth, Minnesota. He grasped it early on
Decision to become a rock star, a superstar like Elvis Presley. After this
He graduated from high school briefly at the University of Minneapolis. But it pulled him
magically to the big metropolis of New York. There he gained a foothold in Grennwich
Village and specifically tinkered with his musician career. He imitated that
Folksinger Woody Guthrie, keeping his eyes and ears open to what was going on
the air lay. That was the folk revival movement back then with Joan Baez and Pete
Seeger. Dylan worked his way through appearances in the relevant
Music bars continuously high and will become a superstar in a few years
Folk rock music scene.
Dylan himself wasn't a politically active person, and he always has later
again refrained from his years as a protest singer. Behind the
ambiguous Dylan texts and the flair of the bohemian suits the realist and
Manager Robert Zimmermann (Dylan's maiden name). This is why
Dylan was never overwhelmed by his own success as a musician like Elvis
Presley. He was neither the "serf" of a record company nor
"Serf" of his fans. Dylan was the first rock superstar to have his
Fans gave a harsh rejection when it was turned into a political and moral one
Wanted to make the leading figure of the "movement". Dylan knew very well that the
The success he rode was thanks to a myth, thanks to the
Record - and today CD - found worldwide distribution. But he also knew
in contrast to Presley, between appearance and reality
distinguish: "I told them not to follow leaders,
but pay attention to the parking meters. I wasn't going to fall for it
and being some kind of leader. The magazines have this
Bullshit that Dylan, the Beatles, the Stones, that we all
Are leaders. And because I wanted to get out of there, they started on me
hacking around. But who could have met such expectations? I had with
Politics nothing in mind. I didn't want to know about it ... But the times are
hard. They all want a leader. They just want someone to take them out
out of their difficulties. "1
While the civil rights anthem "We shall overcome" by Pete
Seeger still reflected the positive spirit of optimism that came from the faith
was born that America was finally on the way to the "vowed."
Land ", Dylan's song" Blowing in the Wind "represented the
Mood of an increasingly skeptical generation:
"How many years can a mountain exist, before it's washed to the sea?
How many times must a man look up, before he can see the sky? "2
Questions are asked that cannot be answered. You refer
on an eternal perspective, a sense of transcendence that the
historical perspective of years or even centuries is irrelevant
makes appear. Verses are woven into this romantic mood
make a commitment to pacifism or contain a humanistic creed:
"How many times must the cannon balls fly, before the're forever banned? How
many ears must one man have, before he can hear people cry? "3
The first verse of the song expresses the central thought that for many
Young people became the epitome of the new lifestyle:
"How many roads must a man walk down, before you call him a man? How many
seas must a white dove sail, before she sleeps in the sand? "4
In these lines there is the well-known wandering bird motif, the vagabond, the
Tramp out of society. He is peaceful and humane, im
In harmony with nature, and yet he is a man of wind and
Wandering drawn. He is free and undemanding. He is a philosopher
Artist and self-made man. His eyes have seen a lot, the beauties of the
Nature and misery among people. However, he stands outside of the
Society as an observer. He is "onlookers" of the action, always on
the way somewhere without ever coming to a place where he is "home"
"How does it feel, how does it feel,
to be on your own, with no direction home,
like a complete unknown, like a rolling stone? "5
The novel by Jack Kerouac formed the literary counterpart to "The
Freewheelin 'Bob Dylan, Dylan's second LP that became a bestseller. The
However, rejection and the exit from civil society had to be
be justified. This served the criticism of the American
Arms industry. The anti-war songs are the complementary counterpart to
the new ideals of self-discovery. This pacifist creed found his
generally accepted phrase in Donovan's "Universal Soldier" or Dylan's
"Masters of War".
These songs were not protest songs in the tradition of Woody Guthrie
or Pete Seeger, or something songs of the emancipating ones
Labor movement. In contrast, Dylan's "Masters of War" is an "anti-song",
which corresponded to the tenor of the anti-Vietnam demonstrations. Bob Dylan wasn't
the protagonist of the protest song, but the showmaster, who is the skeptical
Knew how to absorb the mood of the youth towards the establishment. So
he explained in an interview:
"Songs like 'Masters of War' were easy to make. There were thousands and
Thousands upon thousands who wanted to hear songs of this kind. That's why I wrote it.
I was touring almost all the time, and I knew what the audience was
wanted. If you play in front of people every night, you know exactly what they're hearing
want. It is then much easier to write songs. "6
So Dylan did nothing other than the taste of the times of a revolting
Generation to serve and to accompany musically. So can his old ones
Songs still today as a contemporary document of a new beginning and revolt
The anti-song as a means of separating the youth from the established
Society also took up issues from the civil rights movement:
Racial Discrimination, Social Injustice and Unfair Practices of the
Justice were evidence of the unfairness of those in power - e.g. Dylan's
Anti-song "With God on Our Side". Trust in the ruling
Social system dwindled more and more and was the prerequisite for that
Try to build an "anti-society".
The core of the new counterculture was the search for an alternative lifestyle
based on authenticity and honesty. The youth movement got
a strongly moralizing character. The mendacity of politicians who
false promises of the advertising industry and the dream factories of the media
disaffected many young people.
The tremendous impact of Dylan's songs was largely due to that
Articulation of a new moralism. This is what he describes in the ballad of
"Hollis Brown" (1964) the story of a little farmer with a wife and five
Children on the verge of subsistence. The
material and spiritual hardship of this family is described. Given this
Hollis Brown decides to kill himself and his family.
This song is in the tradition of journalistic street ballads.
Although Dylan didn't experience this story himself, he creates it
Tension, drama and a realism as if he had experienced it himself.
His harsh voice, the archaic guitar playing and the instrumental ones
Interludes on the harmonica create an atmosphere of authenticity
arise that are diametrically opposed to the euphemistic, transfiguring world of hit music
is opposite. In his anti-song "The Loneome Death of Hattie
Carroll "(1964) describes Dylan the baseless murder of a kitchen assistant
by a rich youth and his scandalously mild condemnation.

4. Psychedelic rock music and drug frenzy

The distortion is a constitutive element of the rock music sound,
as a sound basis, so to speak. The main function of rock music is that of
simultaneous consumption of narcotics or alcohol, the cognitive
To completely switch off instances of consciousness. The dissipation of muscular tension
is accompanied by a narcissistic sensation of pleasure The greater the tension,
the greater the feeling of pleasure in relaxation. To the rock music
In terms of reference, this model means that the regular beat of the
bass drum the musical reception on the level of dissipation of tension in the
The sense of a narcissistic pleasure sensation shifted. The more odd
If rock music contains frequencies, the more innervating and exciting it is.
Bob Dylan's arrhythmic way of singing triggers physical reactions in the listener
- Flinching, lightning-fast reactions, wide awake, etc. - off. So
explains the driving effect of his music. Enjoyed hippies
his music is often related to targeted drug use, against the bob
Dylan apparently has little objection:
"It's okay if they turn themselves on with weed and with LSD and heroin and
Sex and all that. Isn't it great ... to know weed - or drugs at all
know - it's a great thing, you won't break it ... I think LSD
is medicine. You take it, and then ... You don't have to do it all the time
take ... I think everyone should be conscious every now and then
be expanded. "7
Much like the Beatles' psychedelic music, Dylan's music can be found in
Accompanying drug use can have a mind-expanding effect, and
at the same time ensure the removal of impulses from accumulated aggression. Dylan's music
Thus comes an important psycho-hygienic function in a repressive one
Society too.

5. Psycho-hygienic functions of the anti-song

Dylan's songs are kind of "anti-hit". While the hit for the from
Struggle for existence creates an illusionary counterweight,
which is offered by the culture industry as a substitute for happiness for consumption,
the anti-Schlager serves the needs of unrealistic students and
Students after illusionary realism. The existential problem of the
It is a student that he has been in a state of alienation for years
has to persist even though he is currently in a development phase of his
Personality resides in which he is magical from the symbols of real life
is attracted. He wants to recede to the "real" reality that is behind
the theoretical considerations and analyzes of the university and beyond
Dream factories is in the media. In the "naked" reality he hopes that
To find truth.
This also applies to interpersonal relationships, in particular
between man and woman. The idealized by the feature film and in the Schnulze
treated topics of love, separation, loneliness and togetherness are now
in the light of self-experience relentlessly towards their truth value
checked. Dylan sings about "Don't thint twice, it's all right" (1963)
from the point of view of the tired partner, the end of a
Average relationship that did not bring "great luck".
The counterculture of the 1960s seemed to be the framework of a "transitional phenomenon"
to blow up. For the first time popular music was combined with serious music
artistic ambitions. The underground movement developed into one
revolutionary movement that is no longer understood as just an adolescent revolt
but its own sustainable concept for alternative
Sought to realize forms of life. Bob Dylan became an icon unintentionally
of this alternative protest movement, its anti-songs became too enigmatic
Emblems of a secret sign system, its encrypted semantics only
Members of the underground movement understood how to interpret correctly. Dylans
Anti-songs acted as a secret code to identify the affiliation of the
Opposite to the underground movement could see.

6. Dylan as a film actor

Is that all? Not quite: Bob Dylan has also been in some films
participated, for example in Sam Peckinpah's late-western "Pat Garrett huns"
Billy the Kid "(USA 1973) and in" Renaldo and Clara "(USA 1978), one
rather lengthy self-portrait of Dylan around his concert appearances.
When asked how he got the role of "Alias" in "Pat Garrett & Billy
the Kid "came and how he sees his role in this Western himself,
Dylan answers succinctly:
"I don't know who I was playing. I was trying to play exactly who was in
featured in the story, but it is well known that in this story
there was no one who was the character I was playing. "8
Dylan starred in Peckinpah's western alias, a young man who became the
Gang joins Billy the Kids and his forays with his songs
accompanied. Apparently Dylan did not share the pretentious intentions
Peckinpahs, who with his Western the political grievances in the
wanted to denounce American consumer society of the 1970s:
"That movie was Peckinpah's realm - and it was like a lunatic. He said
all the time: 'This is my film my film' "9
After all, Dylan doesn't seem to have missed the fact that Peckinpahs
subversive western cut around from production and special
provocative sequences were cut out:
"By joining Pat Garrett, I learned that it was in
Hollywood is absolutely impossible to make a really creative film.
Even Sam didn't have the last word and that was the problem.Saw in the cinema
I got the version that followed its cut, and I knew the film was
mercilessly dismembered. Someone other than Sam had worked on some of the
snipped around the best scenes. The music was completely torn apart and
was used in all possible places except in the scenes for which
we wrote them. Apart from Heavens Door, I can
don't pretend that I did anything I had done on the spot
found what it was intended for. "10

7. The "real" Bob Dylan

Who was Bob Dylan himself behind those masks, behind the idolization that
was given to him by his fans? A simple ballad singer who relies on the
Wanted to go on stage to sing, as he says of himself:
"At that time I had the feeling that I was really charged. I was playing
just guitar and harmonica and sang the songs, and that's it. "11
Dylan didn't want to lecture or make anyone think:
"There are no instructive songs on it ... I still stand by them
Records I've made so far, but I just have some of them
Made to attract attention, and a lot because I
I didn't know anyone else who did something like that ... The songs are by someone
Downright brain-burned sincerity, shouldn't worry anyone
prepare, I only wrote it for one reason, that I, only
and I alone should and had to write them. "12
Bob Dylan himself was not a politically active person. If you have his
Once interviews have been carefully analyzed, his answers appear rather naive or
awkward, for example when asked what his actual message is
"My real message? Keep your head clear and always use one
Lightbulb with. "13
Or when asked what his songs are actually about:
"That's really too high for me, man. I'll just stand out there and sing. If
So the people ... If I've been hired somewhere, I'll surrender
just go on stage and sing and I don't really care if there is
someone is listening. "14
Dylan himself renounces his own interpretation of his songs; he
leaves it to his fans to interpret his songs
to interpret into it:
"It's not my business to understand my songs. That belongs to me
not to. I have an idea of ​​it as I write it, but
that's about it. "15
The rest is projection, interpretation and interpretation. The way of interpreting
Dylan's songs depend on the political direction the fan belongs to. The
The alternative movement has made Dylan its icon in his songs
political, moral and religious messages interpreted into it. Dylan
himself repeatedly eluded this image of the protest singer by joining the
Example in the eighties appeared more and more often in Las Vegas costume and
Country songs at the best gave him grumpy reactions on the part of him
left fans. Lately he hardly gives interviews,
knowing full well that in each of his words and sentences "some message"
would be interpreted into it. In silence he accepted the prizes, the
were presented to him as a "symbol of the protest movement". Now you can do it yourself
in the silence of a person still interpret, like this for example
the director Doris Dörrie makes Dylan's silence as a wish
tries to interpret in terms of distance and "protection from being devoured". 16 In
in fact, Dylan's behavior towards his fans is among his last
Concerts have become more and more cautious. He hardly reacts to applause anymore;
it doesn't seem to matter to him how many people go to his concerts
come and whether the rows of seats are full or only half full. More and more often
repulsive gestures observable in his habitus. A certain goes from Dylan
Cold out.
He unresponsively reel offs his old anti-songs again for the umpteenth time
Mal and seems pretty bored. He takes everyone equally indifferently
possible prices from any committee that he does not know. He
even sings his "Knockin 'on heavens door" in front of the Pope in Rome. It seems
to be pretty indifferent to him by now, from which side the
is captured, by the left protest movement or by the Catholic

8. Bob Dylan and his fans

Bob Dylan seems to have a rather aloof relationship with his fans,
as can be seen from an interview:
"There are thousands, millions, billions of people out there. There are so many
People out there. I mean, you can't all know them. "17
When asked if he cares about people, Dylan replies evasively:
"Well, yes. But we all have our own definitions of these
whole words. 'Important', 'People' ... "
Bob Dylan seemed for a while afraid that he would be the same fate
could flourish like John Lennon, who was shot by a fan and leaves
therefore protect himself from invisible bodyguards during his performances:
"I mean, you always get killed by whoever you are on
loves most, right? I do not know. So Jesse became James
allegedly ... someone got too close to him, whom he for his close friend
held. "18
There should be fans who put their delusions in Dylan's star imago
project into it and identify with it personally:
Interviewer: "She claims to look very much like you. Dark guy. You
is ten years younger than you and has this strange delusion "
Dylan: "Well, there are people who follow me everywhere. They have
ID cards and driver's licenses, and they're all called 'Dylan', you know? you
change their name on the birth certificate and so on. "19
Have we all succumbed to a Bob Dylan delusion, a myth that
from the music industry and from its fans systematically to the symbol of one
rebellious generation was built?
When asked who he really is, Dylan answers rather succinctly:
"Who is Bob Dylan? I'm only Bob Dylan if I have to be Bob Dylan. Die
most of the time I'm just myself. "20
His image as a protest singer seems to be getting on his nerves:
"Actually, I consider myself an entertainer ... a song and dance
Man. "21
Bob Dylan sees himself primarily as a songwriter, poet and
Performer, not as a protest singer with any political or
moralizing messages. It was from the hippie movement of the 70s
and is still today a symbol in the left-wing political scene
for freedom, emancipation and rebellion against unjust social
Conditions. Dylan exposes his image as a protest singer with political
Messages as pure projection when he says about himself:
"If I wasn't Bob Dylan, I would probably think that Bob too
Dylan had a lot of answers. "22
There are apparently two Bob Dylans, the star image Bob Dylan as a symbol for
a libertarian, tolerant and peace-loving society that claims to be
pure projection proves, and the authentic Bob Dylan of himself
himself says:
"I don't see myself as Bob Dylan. It's like Rimbaud said:
'I am someone else' "23

9. Positioning Dylan as an icon in the media cosmos

As a symbol, Bob Dylan served the needs of a rebellious
Generation following in a time of political and social upheaval
was looking for alternative lifestyles. It came to be more by accident than on purpose
Icon of the so-called "Woodstock" generation. Bob Dylan as an icon today enjoys one
downright religious veneration, otherwise only found in Catholic saints
Church is granted. He is an element of that medial one
Delusion context that invites us with its stars and symbols
religious sign system that many people who are familiar with the
conventional religion is not concerned with anything more than meaningful
Mission statement can serve.
Bob Dylan as a symbol of justice, freedom and peace is thus a
Element of a media substitute religion that is currently increasingly filling the gap
fills in the waning of the Christian-humanistic tradition
leaves open. In this sacralization of Dylan to a quasi-religious symbol
secret messages it does not matter whether it is only a projection screen
may be or really had any messages to proclaim. exciting
the question will be what role icons like Dylan will play in the next generation
could still play whether the secret sign system of a Bob Dylan also for
the descendants of the 68 generation could still be of importance? Currently at
a time of political correctness could be a symbol of Bob Dylan
a cleaner, fairer world for the younger generation too
to be accepted and revered. As a legend of Woodstock, he will be ours too
Descendants are still preserved, provided they still have him and his anti-songs
accept and need.

1 Bob Dylan, quoted from A.Scaduto: Bob Dylan - an indiscreet biography,
Frankfurt am Main 1976, p.430
2 Bob Dylan: The answer is blowing in the wind
3 Eb.
4 Eb.
5 Bob Dylan: Like a rolling stone
6 Quoted from Flender / Rauhe: Popmusik, Darmstadt 1989, p.106
7 Bob Dylan: In his own words, Heidelberg 2000, p.99
8 Ib., 90
9 Eb.
10 Eb.
11 Ib., 50
12 Ib., 53
13 Ib., P.31
14 Eb.
15 Eb.
16 Doris Dörrie in a TV portrait: Knockin 'on Dylans door, ARTE 2001
17 Bob Dylan: In his own words, op. Cit., P.109
18 Eb., P.111
19 Ib., 110
20 Eb., P.34
21 Ib., P.24
22 Ib., 34
23 Eb.


Bob Dylan: In his own words, Heidelberg 2000

Pop Music - Aspects of its History, Function, Effect and Aesthetics, ed. by R.Flender / H.Rauhe, Darmstadt 1989

"Bob Dylan - an indiscreet biography, edited by A Scaduto, Frankfurt am Main 1976