Update and correction (11/17/2012):
The audio has become available from Bob Dylan’s November 5th, 2012 show in Madison, Wisconsin. Dylan’s words are different to how they were reported in the media, and different to how he himself reported them on Facebook. What he says in full is the following:
Well thank you everybody. We tried to play good tonight, after the president was here today. Y’know we just had to do something after that — it’s hard to follow that. I think he’s still the president, I think he’s still going to be the president. [Cheers from crowd.] Yeah we know — y’know the media’s not fooling anybody — it [sic] probably gonna be a landslide.
The phrase I bolded is the key one, because it removes the ambiguity that I zeroed in on in the reported words. Dylan was clearly predicting Barack Obama to be the winner; no ifs, ands or buts. In this he was far more accurate than yours truly. It was not exactly a landslide in the popular vote, but he did win the popular vote and he won very decisively indeed in the Electoral College. So, I was wrong in my “spin” of Dylan’s reported remarks. I was guilty of projection, in a big way. I personally expected Romney to win, and thought it would be decisive, and I just presumed Bob had bought into the same election theories that I had, and was therefore making some kind of double-entendre joke the day before the election. Crazy, huh? No one’s ever projected before when it comes to Dylan.
Why do I think he made these remarks? Well, clearly I’m the wrong person to ask. In this case, let Bob explain himself, should he ever be asked to do so. However, given Dylan’s answers to questions about President Obama in the recent Rolling Stone interview, and given how he’s behaved during his visits to the White House during Obama’s first term, I would still suggest that believing Dylan is in fact a big fan of Barack Obama in a political sense amounts to some kind of serious projection in itself. And, y’know, it takes a projector to catch a projector.
Update 11:30 p.m. (11/6/2012) Fox has called the election for Obama. No landslide – Romney looks like he may win the popular vote. But the times they are not a-changin’. Well … hold on tight and may the Lord have mercy on us all.
Ah, Bobby, he can still grab the headlines whenever he feels like it, even on election day! The story multiplying via the wires is from Bob Dylan’s concert last night in Madison, Wisconsin. As ever, we won’t know for sure what he really said until we get the audio, but the way it’s being reported, when he came back after the encore (and probably while he was introducing the band) he said: “Don’t believe the media. I think it’s going to be a landslide.”
Previous to that he’s also quoted as having said, “We tried to play good tonight since the president was here today.” The president, accompanied by Bruce Springsteen, was in Madison earlier that day.
Why do I say he’s predicting it will be Mitt Romney in that landslide? Well, only because I give credit to Bob Dylan for not being a fool, and he’s been traveling plenty around the country and probably has as good a feel as any for what the mood is. No one with more than three brain cells expects a “landslide” for Obama, so it’s a process of elimination.
More than all that, of-course, he’s no doubt just tweaking people a little and having a chuckle. Nevertheless, the media predictably have jumped all over these remarks with a huge chorus of headlines announcing, “Bob Dylan predicts Obama ‘in a landslide’.” As I said, we don’t know exactly what he said unless we hear it, but even as quoted by the Obama-sympathetic-journalists, I don’t see where he is predicting that the landslide will be for Barack Obama. The money quote is simply: “Don’t believe the media. I think it’s going to be a landslide.”
“Don’t believe the media” is right.
A couple of months ago, this is the same Bob Dylan who was chased around by the interviewer in Rolling Stone, trying to get him to say something positive about Barack Obama—anything! One of Dylan’s exasperated responses was the following:
Look, I only met him a few times. I mean, what do you want me to say? He loves music. He’s personable. He dresses good. What the f*%k do you want me to say?
He utterly evaded saying anything about Obama’s political outlook and agenda. When asked about the “reaction against [Obama],” he merely compared him to past presidents, including specifically George W. Bush, making the point that “Anybody who’s going to take that job is going to be in for a rough time.” (What would Bruce have thought of that?)
When pressed on whether he thought that “some of the reaction against Obama has been in reaction to the event that a black man has become president of the United States,” his answer—again with noticeable exasperation—rejected that premise entirely.
Do you want me to repeat what I just said, word for word? What are you talking about? People loved the guy when he was elected. So what are we talking about? People changing their minds? Well, who are these people that changed their minds? Talk to them. What are they changing their minds for? What’d they vote for him for? They should’ve voted for somebody else if they didn’t think they were going to like him.
The interviewer, still dissatisfied with what he was getting, went on:
Q: The point I’m making is that perhaps lingering American resentments about race are resonant in the opposition to President Obama, which has not been a quiet opposition.
Dylan: You mean in the press? I don’t know anybody personally that’s saying this stuff that you’re just saying. The press says all kinds of stuff. I don’t know what they would be saying. Or why they would be saying it. You can’t believe what you read in the press anyway.
By the way, unlike four years ago, Bob Dylan has taken election day off. No concert tonight. Tomorrow, however, he’s in St. Paul, Minnesota. Hmmm. If Bob is actually registered to vote, it might well be in Minnesota, where he is said to have one of his homes. So he could be there right now, voting. Who knows? It’s his business.
An interesting fact, though: If tonight really does turn into a landslide for Mitt Romney, Minnesota is one of those states that could go for him, although the state hasn’t gone for a Republican presidential candidate since tricky Dicky in 1972.
Now that sure would be something.
Addendum 5:27 p.m.: On Bob Dylan’s Facebook page, there is now a message—I think his first ever apparent direct message in that medium—clarifying (in a manner of speaking) what he said last night. The text:
Here’s pretty close to what I said last night in Madison. I said from the stage that we had to play better than good tonight, that the president was here today and he’s a hard act to follow. Also, that we’re not fooled by the media and we think it’s going to be a landslide. That’s pretty much all of it.
So, although you can parse that extremely closely if you like, overall it leaves the story right where it is. He’s predicting a landslide … but not saying for who. The commenters on his page seem, predictably enough, mostly ones who are happy to buy how the media has headlined it today, as a prediction of a landslide for Obama. (Yet, if that was Bob’s idea, why would he bother providing his exact words today?) Some people commenting realize the deliberate ambiguity, however, and get the joke.
So it goes on.