Sunday, October 26, 2008

Musical facts are still facts

September 21st's "Cock Rock Hall of Fame" included this paragraph:

Nyro was as much an influence as Joni Mitchell (and Nyro influenced Mitchell -- check out Ladies of the Canyon and contrast it with Mitchell's two albums prior). In the Smokey Robinson entry, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame makes much of Bob Dylan once saying that Smokey was one of the best songwriters -- left out is that Dylan has repeatedly stated that was a joke (and, indeed, that entire interview -- a press conference transcribed by Rolling Stone -- was a put-on on the party of Dylan). Dylan actually had praise for Nyro. She gets in when?

"Cock Rock Hall of Fame," "Sexism and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame" and "The winner and top ten runner ups" all addressed the extreme sexism at play in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and they have resulted in many e-mails but the passage above has resulted in some very angry e-mails insisting Dylan did say it!

Read the passage above, it's noted Dylan said it . . . as a joke. The paragraph is correct.

We're going to walk through you slowly. Bob Dylan's first "Rolling Stone Interview" was not an interview, it was a press conference that took place in San Francisco in 1967. The press conference was a put-on. Dylan was asked for a list of poets he 'dug' and he responded: "Rimbaud, I guess; W.C. Fields. The family, you know, the trapeze family in the circus, Smokey Robinson, Allen Ginsberg, Charlie Rich -- he's a good poet."

Dylan immediately began denying his put-on comment. In Rolling Stone, he would deny it in his first actual Rolling Stone Interview (conducted by Jann Wenner, 1969):

Jann Wenner: What about poets? You said something about Smokey Robinson . . .

Bob Dylan: I didn't mean Smokey Robinson, I meant Arthur Rimbaud. I don't know how I could've gotten Smokey Robinson mixed up with Arthur Rimbaud (laughter). But I did.

For over forty years, Dylan has corrected his off-hand remark. If it hurts your feelings that Dylan doesn't think Smokey Robinson is one of the 'great poets,' we wonder what Dylan you've ever listened to?

You can research this yourself and, tip, you can start with The Rolling Stoe Interviews 1967-1980 (introduction by Ben Fong-Torres).
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