US folk-rock icon Bob Dylan will soon be visiting Australia, following concerts in China and Vietnam. Acerbic New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd had this to say about his Beijing gig:
"Bob Dylan may have done the impossible: broken creative new ground in selling out. The idea that the raspy troubadour of '60s freedom anthems would go to a dictatorship and not sing those anthems is a whole new kind of sell-out - even worse than Beyonce, Mariah and Usher collecting millions to croon to Muammar Gaddafi's family, or Elton John raking in a fortune to serenade gay-bashers at US shock jock Rush Limbaugh's wedding. Before Dylan was allowed to have his first concert in China... he let the government pre-approve his set. Iconic songs of revolution like 'The Times They Are a-Changin'' and 'Blowin' in the Wind' wouldn't have been an appropriate soundtrack for the 2000 Chinese apparatchiks in the audience taking a relaxing break from repression." For Dylan, the times they are not a-changin', Sydney Morning Herald, 11/4/11)
It's fascinating, isn't it? While Dowd can cane Dylan and the rest for entertaining all sorts of shady characters in all sorts of shady places, there's one exceedingly shady place on earth they can go to and perform in without a word of criticism from Dowd or her mates in the ms media. Speaking of which , Dylan's doing Israel in June, having already performed there in 1987 and 1993.
One song I imagine his Israeli fans would really warm to is his little known 1983 number The Neighborhood Bully, his only song about Israel.
Don't be misled by the title. This is a deeply Zionist* song which portrays Israel, not long after its murderous 1982 invasion and occupation of Lebanon, as a guy with a tragic past that no one really understands - or wants to understand:
The neighborhood bully been driven out of every land,/ He's wandered the earth an exiled man./ Seen his family scattered, his people hounded and torn,/ He's always on trial for just being born./ He's the neighborhood bully.
And if this deeply misunderstood character should go bezerk, as is his wont, why there's a bloody good reason:
Well, the chances are against it and the odds are slim/ That he'll live by the rules that the world makes for him,/ 'Cause there's a noose at his neck and a gun at his back/ And a license to kill him is given out to every maniac. He's the neighborhood bully.
If only the poor thing had a friend or two:
He got no allies to really speak of./ What he gets he must pay for, he don't get it out of love./ He buys obsolete weapons and he won't be denied/ But no one sends flesh and blood to fight by his side./ He's the neighborhood bully.
Love that one (there are 11 such gems). He got no allies to really speak of!
OK, enough already! In the absence of a statement repudiating the entire dreadful dirge, I'm forced to conclude that despite (because of?) having lived in the Benighted States of America for nigh on 6 decades (the bugger's 69), Dylan's either blissfully unaware that the neighborhood bully has a filthy rich sugar daddy who caters to his every whim or else it's all down to he who pays the piper calls the tune.
[* You might like to read Bob Dylan's racist song, ellissharp.blogspot.com, 25/9/05]