This is exceedingly déjà-vu pour moi, but I can’t quite resist responding to a current news story related to Bob Dylan.
Dylan apparently has been in the running to receive France’s highest honor, the “Légion d’honneur,” but according to news outlet France 24 his nomination has run into some trouble due to the discovery by the leader of the relevant committee that Dylan has a history of “drug-taking” and “anti-war protesting.” Actually, for this story France 24 references what it describes as a French satirical newspaper named Le Canard Enchainé, so that gives one some reason to wonder about the veracity of the “controversy.”
In case it is a real controversy, however, it’s worth pointing out that perhaps a fair look at the record would indicate that Dylan likely doesn’t merit disqualification on either count. As far as drug-taking goes, no reasonable person would doubt that Bob Dylan has encountered and used drugs of one kind or another, especially in the swinging sixties, but the fact remains that he has never been arrested or charged, let alone convicted, for even the most trivial kind of drug possession. So although we may be quite certain he has done it, it remains hearsay, legally speaking. And further, he has never been in the habit of talking about drugs or promoting the idea of taking them.
Interestingly, (Sir) Paul McCartney has apparently already received the named award; he, by contrast, has drug infractions on his record, and is pretty much a public booster for marijuana and its related forms.
As for the anti-war protesting: while I’m not sure why this would even be a disqualification in and of itself, the article in question takes it as given that Dylan actually did a lot of that kind of thing. Continue reading Bob Dylan and the Légion d’Honneur Award
Bob Dylan played yesterday, April 10th, in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon), Vietnam. He delivered a set list that was in keeping with the kinds of shows he’s been doing the last couple of years. Reportedly, the venue was “half-empty” (or, as one may prefer to think, half-full) but this didn’t prevent Bob from delivering a relatively rare second encore, with the song Forever Young. This is the full list of songs he played: Continue reading Bob Dylan in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (And what does it really mean?)
Stories in the press continue to proliferate, implying or sometimes even asserting that Bob Dylan was prohibited from singing The Times They Are A-Changin’ or Blowin’ in the Wind by the Chinese regime, in the wake of his concert yesterday in Beijing. (Previous post: Dylan goes to China.) However, I still have yet to see anyone cite a real source for this; they seem to simply be making a guess based on his set list. Continue reading Bob Dylan in China, continued
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