Monday, April 18, 2011

More on Dylan’s China Tour

With the questions raised about Bob Dylan’s China Tour (see my post on April 13), the effect on me has been that I’ve been thinking more and more about his music. Thinking about his music reminded me that there are still some of my old vinyl record favorites that I have not replaced with CDs. Specifically I had in mind Blonde on Blonde and Blood on the Tracks. I was running some errands on Friday and decided that I would pay a visit to my favorite record shop, Charlemagne Records on Birmingham’s Southside. As I was driving through town, the radio issued a severe weather alert. I knew that a hard rain was gonna fall so I wanted to go finish my errands quickly. I was lucky to find a parking spot right outside the store, and was soon heading up the stairs to the quaint record shop on the top floor.

Charlemagne’s has long been the go to spot for any type of music recording you are interested in. There are selections of new and used CDs as well as bins of used vinyl records for those still interested in analog recording. I always gravitate to the used CD section because I love spending less if at all possible. As I thumbed my way through the alphabetized arrangement of popular music, there I found them: Blonde on Blonde and Blood on the Tracks – the very one’s I was searching for – both in mint condition! It must have been Providence. Afterwards I went to the Folk Music section. There I saw a CD of Carl Sandberg singing some of his favorite American folk songs, and also one of Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares, the Bulgarian women’s chorus. I was interested, but those would have to be for another day. Today would be a day for Dylan and Dylan alone.

I made my way to the check out register with my double find. Marian, the owner of the shop complimented me on my selections and rang up the total as a heavy rain mixed with hailstones began to fall. Heading back outside to rain and heavy clouds in the sky, it was not dark yet, for I would soon be listening to a young Bob Dylan singing "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35," “Visions of Johanna,” “Absolutely Sweet Marie,” “One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later)” and "Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again."  In a couple of days, I would be listening to "Tangled Up in Blue" and "Simple Twist of Fate" when I moved on to Blood on the Tracks.

The point is, I was spurred to revisit the works of the artist after having read and responded to Maureen Dowd’s New York Times article. Since then, I have found others online who have added their two cents to the discussion of Bob Dylan’s tour in China. I'm glad to see that others agree that Dylan has a body of work that will long be remembered in spite of some government attempts to censor (or some journalist's attempts to discredit), and that even what he was allowed to perform in China can speak to oppressive situations.

Here are some of the online articles I found which you may be interested in for further reading:

"Dylan, Dowd, and China: Did Bob Really Sell Out?," by James Fallows in The Atlantic

Alex Ross’s The Rest Is Noise carried a column about “Dylan in China”

Ulyssestone, a blogger writing from China has a blog entry, “OT: Bob Dylan's China Tour”

In The New Yorker Ian Crouch posted “Literary Smackdown: Bob Dylan in China” 

“In Defense of Bob Dylan,” a blog post by Joe Kloc in Mother Jones

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