Friday, November 13, 2015

Bob Dylan: Master of the Burn, Orignator of the White Boy Diss Track

In the biopic documentary Don't Look Back, a then-25 year old Bob Dylan comes off as a swaggering, cocksure, arrogant, selfish, and all-around insufferable asswad, and you can hardly believe Joan Baez is just standing there in thrall, refusing to call him out on it. I guess it's not surprising, considering that by then an entire socio-cultural movement had been sucking Bob Dylan's proverbial dick 24/7 for the better part of a decade. 

A lot of people say that Bob Dylan's voice sounds like a cane toad being slowly dismembered with a pushpin. Well maybe not in those words, but his vocal style, while unique, is not widely known as mellifluous.

His lyrics though? That's another story. 

Bob Dylan could turn a phrase with the best of them, especially when it came to burning someone in a song. You could say that Bob Dylan was the originator of the white boy diss track, and you did not want to get on his bad side or end up an ousted lover. Just check out these gems:
You say you're lookin' for someone/who will promise never to part/someone to close his eyes for you/someone to close his heart/someone who will die for you and more ... [WAIT FOR IT] ... But it ain't me babe/no, no, no it ain't me babe/It ain't me you're lookin' for, babe. (It Ain't Me Babe)
SNAP! My dad claims he once played this for a college girlfriend, told her it was his favorite song, and applied to their relationship. Then he couldn't figure out why that pissed her off. I feel like every dude alive can probably relate to these lyrics, although I must say, I would kind of love to hear Ani DiFranco or Adele cover It Ain't Me Babe from the other side of the ledger.

Or what about this:
Idiot wind blowing every time you move your mouth/blowing down the backroads heading south/Idiot wind blowing every time you move your teeth/you're an idiot babe/it's a wonder that you still know how to breathe. (Idiot Wind). 
I mean. Seriously? There are so--SO many times I wish this was my hold music at work! Like every time some dickhead lawyer bro tried to give me the what-for on the phone, I'd be like, "hang on a second. I need to grab something off the printer." Then I'd press hold and light into this for two or three minutes.

Then there's this one:
I wish that for just one time/You could stand inside my shoes/And for just that one moment I could be you/Yes I wish that for just one time/You could stand inside my shoes/You'd know then what a drag it is to see you. (Positively Fourth Street).
WHHHHAAAAATTTT?! I mean, that's just stone cold. This is a serious hate-song, as all the lyrics that precede these say stuff like, "You gotta lotta nerve, to say you are my friend . . . you just want to be on the side that's winning." Etc. Etc.

Some musicians based their entire careers on three chords and hairspray (see, e.g., Poison, Motley Crue). Bob Dylan based his on Arlo Guthrie outtakes, cigarettes, original diss tracks, and--as of the 2015 World Series--shilling for I.B.M. 

It's a dirty job, I suppose, but someone's gotta do it.

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