Event NotebookDecember 2008 Enigma There’s a chilling moment...

Sat, 11/15/2008 - 12:27pm -- JDavanza

Event Notebook
December 2008


There’s a chilling moment during the lull between songs at the end of Bob Dylan’s 1966 “Royal Albert Hall” Concert when a guy in the audience shouts out “Judas” and the crowd erupts. There’s cheering and clapping, maybe some boos, followed by indistinct shouting, and Dylan’s response, “I don’t believe you. You’re a liar.” Then with his instruction to the Band, “Get loud,” Dylan launches into a vitriolic and sneering version of Like a Rolling Stone, an already harsh and angry song that he spews at his audience.

Not that the show had been without contention until that point. Some of the concert-goers who had politely and warmly received the acoustic first half of Dylan’s performance grew increasingly agitated during the electric second part of the show. Dylan had turned his back on folk music nearly two years before, but it seemed that the folk audience who regarded him as a pivotal and, for some, almost messianic figure in the folk movement hadn’t gotten over it.

Dylan’s importance in the re-popularization of folk music in the early 1960s is undisputed, but was he really as devoted to its social concerns as hardcore folk audiences were? My take, all these years later, is that he wasn’t a true folk singer but instead was an incredible talent who could completely and compellingly inhabit folk’s idioms and ideals. John Lennon who had been enchanted by the introspective nature of Dylan’s work during the mid 1960s drew a similar conclusion years later when he decided that Dylan had just been very clever in seeming to be confessional without revealing anything about himself at all.

And that’s the enigma. Who is this man who appeared so convincingly honest and real before suddenly giving up one persona for another that was wholly different but apparently just as true? Nicholas Forster will take up that question among others on Tuesday, December 2, 2008 at 7:30 PM when he presents The Many Faces of Dylan, a multi-media introduction to the man and his career. Forster doesn’t promise to solve the mystery of Dylan but plans, at least, to take on Dylan’s inscrutability in an informative and entertaining way.

The Many Faces of Dylan is free and open to all, and I hope to see you there.

Wil Gregersen
Community Services Librarian

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