The Daily Telegraph made frontpage news on Monday of an off-hand comment from Bob Dylan, made during one of his radio shows:
I am talking to a couple of car companies about being the voice of their GPS system. I think it would be good if you are looking for directions and hear my voice saying something like: left at the next street, no a right — you know what? Just go straight. I probably shouldn’t do it because which ever way I go I always end up at one place: Lonely Avenue.
Surely this is classic Bob leg-pullery. Anyone who’s ever listened to his Theme Time Radio Hour knows that his links are replete with these sort of laconic witticisms. Not only that: the story was sparked by the episode broadcast on BBC 6 Music the night before, Street Map – first aired in the States in December of last year. Hardly the breaking news it was treated as in some quarters.
It’s the summer silly season; these things happen. But for Dylan to make a frontpage splash with an eight-month old joke is quite something regardless. Bob sells papers. Compare and contrast with this post from the Disgruntled Dylanologist about Dylan’s direction home:
But if you step back for a moment to consider the fact that Bob Dylan can remain incognito in an era where recognition has become a direct correlation to our perceived social currency, then perhaps the ability to blend into what Greil Marcus famously referred to as an “Invisible Republic” may be the most telling testament of all to the fact that after spending a lifetime scouring America’s musical and cultural landscape in an effort to unearth the essence of the American experience, Bob Dylan has finally found his way home…
“I’m not there” indeed. Yet Dylan is more relevant now, it would seem, more newsworthy and more likely to sell a rag or two, than at any time since his heyday. He seems to burrow further into the past with every year; but in doing so he makes that past more visible. In this way, he becomes part of something larger; no longer the icon of a one-man genre, but that’s not the same as disappearing himself.