Bob Dylan played his first gig in communist China today, having played first a few nights ago in Taiwan. By Beijing time, the gig took place last night, the night of April 6th, in a venue called the Workers’ Gymnasium. Already, some media outlets are engaged in trying to interpret Bob’s setlist; a hobby usually limited to obsessive fans with too much time on their (or our) hands. From Reuters (Bob Dylan gets rapturous reception at China concert):
Famous for his songs against injustice and for civil liberties and pacifism, Dylan struck a cautious line in Beijing and did not sing anything that might have overtly offended China’s Communist rulers, like “The Times They Are A-Changin’.”
There’s been many references to the fact that Bob Dylan’s songs had to be “approved” by the Chinese regime in advance — and there’s no question that they do employ those tactics with foreign entertainers — but I don’t know that anyone has concrete evidence of any songs he was ordered not to sing. So the above kind of thing is speculative. Continue reading Dylan goes to China: Bob in Beijing
The timing of the latest measures have a particular irony, with music icon Bob Dylan due to play concerts in both countries over the next few days (in Beijing tomorrow, in Shanghai on April 8th, and in Ho Chi Minh City — formerly Saigon — on April 10th).
The Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, known for being a gadfly to the communist regime, was arrested at an airport in Beijing on Sunday, and has not been heard from since. Dozens of others have met similar fates since China began cracking down on even the slightest whispers of a “jasmine revolution” in the wake of popular protests against dictatorial regimes in the Middle East — and hundreds more are living under house arrest. (One mild way of expressing support for Ai Weiwei might be by following his Twitter account — currently at over 74,000 followers). Continue reading Crackdowns in China and Vietnam
Having just asserted in a different venue that I’m not going to try to keep up with everything happening in the Dylan universe anymore, this story nevertheless requires follow-up. It is now reported that the Chinese Ministry of Culture has approved two Bob Dylan concerts to take place in April, one in Beijing and one in Shanghai.
The official Bob Dylan website has not confirmed these as of writing, but everything else seems now to indicate that they will take place — and I’m guessing the same will be true for the proposed shows in Taiwan and in Vietnam. Continue reading Bob Dylan: Approved to play in China