Saturday, April 28, 2012

A MinnPost Reader Sets Me Straight

I've been fortunate that my blog posts regularly appear in other places, especially True North. I also have been a regular participant in the "Minnesota Blog Cabin" section of MinnPost, which picked up a piece I wrote last week concerning the role that Ron Paul acolytes are playing in the Republican Party.

MinnPost tends to attract a very different readership than my other haunts -- it's largely an online competitor to the Star Tribune and employs a lot of ex-Strib and ex-Pioneer Press writers. It's also a place that tends to be, like the Star Tribune, leftish in its orientation and its readership. As a result, the commenters there are often critical of what I write. That's fine, although it sometimes leads to some strange exchanges.

I had the following exchange over there this week with a gentleman named Paul Udstrand, who is also a blogger. I thought it was interesting enough to share here.

Udstrand, whose blog is named "Thoughtful Bastards," asked what might be a rhetorical question:

What is it with you Republicans and music? Why do you keep grabbing music from liberal musicians? (the title of this article is from Bob Dylan's "Tangled Up In Blue"). Aren't there any flag waving country music songs you can use?

Well, I like music and song lyrics often make dandy headlines for blog posts. And while I have no animus against Lee Greenwood, I prefer Bob Dylan. So I responded thus:

Actually, Mr. Udstrand, I prefer Bob Dylan to "flag waving country music songs." By your leave.

Which led to the following response, which is simultaneously condescending and 100% wrong:

Mark, I'm afraid you have seriously misinterpreted Bob Dylan, for one thing, it's not country, it's folk music. At least we share something in common however... we like Bob Dylan.

Whenever I'm instructed by a liberal that I've misinterpreted something, it's likely because I famously lack the nuance for which liberals are justly celebrated. But since I'm not a "Thoughtful Bastard" and am actually an ornery cur, I couldn't let that one go:

Really, Mr. Udstrand? I've "seriously misinterpreted Bob Dylan?" Where did I say Dylan was a country music artist? He certainly dabbled in it, from "John Wesley Harding" in '68 and his subsequent sojourn to Nashville, which was some 4 years after he essentially left folk music behind. Or have you not heard about the breaking news of Dylan's appearance with electric guitars at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival and the subsequent outrage that greeted that performance, some 47 years ago now? Dylan was a crucial figure in folk music, but only for a brief time. The vast majority of his career and his songbook resides elsewhere. Dylan belongs to rock as much or more as he belongs to folk or any other genre.

As I'm guessing you know, "Blood on the Tracks" was released in late 1974, a full decade after Dylan went electric with "Bringing It All Back Home." As such, it's a rock album.

Now, I do like country, but my tastes in that genre run more to Bob Wills and Hank Williams Sr., although I like Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard, too. And I also like Marvin Gaye, the Clash, the Drifters and Django Reinhardt.

In other words, I like a lot of music. I'm not especially fond of condescension, though.

Maybe that was an uncharitable response. I guess I should be grateful that my instructor is a "Thoughtful Bastard" and not a heartless bastard. Because then I'd have really been in trouble....


CousinDan 54915 said...

Bot to be critical, but you should have mentioned the Sex Pistols.

Mr. D said...

Yeah, I could have mentioned the Sex Pistols....

Gino said...

if he took the time to actually read a few posts of your blog, he should have known better.

Paul Udstrand said...

Mark forgot to include the end of the exchange, here was were responses:

Nice little history
Submitted by Paul Udstrand on April 30, 2012 - 8:40pm.


You're certainly familiar with Dylan's diskography, and some of his biography, but if you think the revolution in the air in "Tangled Up In Blue" could possibly be an Ayn Rand inspired Ron Paul fantasy of unfettered greed or your Republican dream of free markets and Christian theocracy, you have completely missed the point sir. Although he may have had guys like Paul in mind when he wrote "Idiot Wind". The fact is that Dylan has devoted his life and most of his music to denouncing almost everything Republicans stand for.

I must apologize however for misreading your post, you didn't say Dylan was a country singer, you said you preferred Dylan to country, which is a very sensible preference.

Dylan's electric switch
Submitted by Paul Udstrand on May 1, 2012 - 8:48am.

By the way, the central question of Dylan's switch to electric guitars and such is not whether or not he switched from folk to rock, but rather if he was expanding the definition of folk. This is what makes Dylan a transformational figure in American music. He didn't switch between established genres, he transformed the genres themselves.