CELEBRITY DOPE: Bob Dylan fired as Voice of a Generation
Well, OK, Bob Dylan, you can have your wish: After your latest little stunt – dropping certain songs from your shows in China to avoid offending the repressive Chinese government and failing to speak out about the detention of activist Ai Weiwei – you are FIRED!
Donald Trump, can you do the honours?
There are several signposts to Dylan’s fall from generational grace. Back in the ‘90s, stunned fans heard The Times They Are a-Changin’ used in a Bank of Montreal commercial. He did a Pepsi ad during the Super Bowl. He plays one of his songs in a Victoria’s Secret commercial.
He couldn’t sell out to the Man (or Woman, depending) like that, could he? Yes, he could.
Of course he wrote some great songs, great protest songs, great peace songs, and they have – as many great songs do – taken an identity and meaning of their own beyond the desires of their creator. Several have become the personal anthems, the personal property, of the people who were and continue to be moved by them, and nothing can change that, not even Bob Dylan. But come on, even if you’re not the voice of a generation, couldn’t you at least be the voice of SOMETHING? Bono can’t do it all by himself.
Dylan is of course keeping quiet about the whole thing, not giving any interviews, keeping his head down, enjoying the life of a performing musician, which is obviously all he ever wanted to do. So what’s new? No worries. There’s a lot less pressure now that he’s been relieved of his generation-voicing responsibilities. As Bill Maher once put it, “If your generation could actually choose a voice, don’t you think they’d have picked one better than yours?”
Read a review of Dylan’s Beijing show here from Xinhua, the official press agency of the government of the People’s Republic of China, and another from the Montreal Gazette here. See if you can spot the differences.