I was reading an article in the November 26 issue of Rolling Stone magazine about the creation of Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the mid to late 80’s. It mentioned the museum’s original plan to purchase artifacts for display in the museum but after purchasing it’s first item (the original lyrics to “Purple Haze” complete with abandoned subtitle “Jesus Saves”) for $17,600 the founders realized that trying to fill the museum with such purchases would quickly bankrupt them.
They put together a team of music journalists with industry contacts that would scour the world for museum items and request they be donated or loaned for display. Pete Townsend (who was present at the groundbreaking) donated his Gibson J-200 he used to write “Pinball Wizard”, Yoko Ono donated John Lennon’s Sgt. Pepper suit, ZZ Top donated guitars and many other big name artists contributed items to help tell the story of the history of rock and roll. All except Bob Dylan.
I’ll admit I’m not a Bob Dylan fan and, quite frankly, never understood all the fuss about him and others like The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Leonard Cohen et al. I endured a Dylan concert (who performed with Paul Simon who, in my opinion, saved what would have been a terrible show) many years ago which confirmed my perception of a mumbling, talentless doofus that somehow became the luckiest doofus in the music industry. His backup musicians carried the show, his voice was nasal and annoying, his song lyrics unintelligible and his music predictable and monotonous. Overall it one of the most ponderous and boring performances I’ve ever had the displeasure of attending. I didn’t pay for the tickets for which I’ll always be exceedingly grateful.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame approached Mr Dylan to contribute a few items from his past, which he has collected over the years and keeps under lock and key, far from the prying eyes of his lowly fans. He declined. Not one piece of memorabilia from Bob…nothing, nada, zilch, zero. What an ass.
Howard Kramer, the director of curatorial affairs for the museum said “Dylan doesn’t do anything for anybody. When Seattle’s Experience Music Project did their exhibit, they got his blessing – and that’s all they got from him. I have it on very good authority that he has a lot of his early stuff, but last I heard it was at his farm in Minnesota. I don’t know if he even still has the farm.” If that doesn’t spell a-s-s, nothing does. I’ve been to the Experience Music Project and wasn’t impressed but it would have been nice to scowl at Bob’s guitar or stick my tongue out at his hat. Childish but satisfying.
Paul Shaffer, music director for Letterman’s Late Show, mentions Dylan in the opening chapter of his new book We’ll Be Here For the Rest of Our Lives: A Swingin’ Show-biz Saga. Shaffer writes how uncooperative and aloof Dylan was during an appearance on the show and his lack of interest in the upcoming performance. The only thing Bob was interested in was meeting Larry ‘Bud’ Melman, the lovable nerd who was a running character on the show. Yes, that’s all he wanted to discuss with the band leader who has a long and impressive career in the entertainment business himself. But Dylan assumes he’s just much more important than the rest and only gives whatever is required to get the job done and get out.
Music industry ‘legends’ that treat audiences like crap (Vancouver concerts by Eric Clapton and Van Morrison are good examples) should be summarily ignored by their audiences until they understand the connection between their massive past and present incomes and pleasing the little people that make it all possible. Too many of these clowns just go through the motions and do the absolute minimum to earn their pay. Clapton is one of the worst I’ve ever seen. Hey Eric, ever thought of SAYING SOMETHING to the audience that pay your salary? If I wanted to hear your songs, one after the other without you uttering a single word I’d stay home, save the money and listen in the comfort of my comfy chair. It’s called entertaining because you’re supposed to entertain us ya schmoe! Just because you’ve been around since Moses was a teenager doesn’t give you the right to rip me off when I pay my hard earned dollars and attend your lackluster concert. To make matters worse, some of these so called legends, like the ass I call Dylan give little or nothing to their audiences, take the money and then refuse to celebrate their careers by sharing artifacts (what the rest of us call ‘clutter’) with fans. What an ass. Doesn’t he have a clue how lucky he is to be highly paid and adored by millions of people (why, I have no idea)? Hey Bob! Do us all a favor and stay home. We’ll watch a Lost rerun and call it a day.
And while I’m at it, there’s also a photo of Bono (of the band U2) in the Rolling Stone magazine article attending a gala at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He’s embracing and kissing a lucite case containing John Lennon’s guitar. I used to like U2 before Bono became officially god-like and a relentless publicity hog. Although he does much more than Dylan ever has, he’s usually in it for himself and feeds his inflated ego by hanging with presidents, popes and anyone else that will draw a crowd. Britain’s talented talk show host Graham Norton referred to Bono as the ‘arse with a hat on’. I like Graham Norton. A lot.
To make mattes worse some of my favourites like Paul McCartney have jumped the shark in the last few years and destroyed any dignity they had left. My message to Paul: Retire. Now. Don’t wait. Just retire.
Musicians like Geddy Lee (Rush), Michael McDonald (Doobie Brothers), Al Stewart, David Gilmour and Roger Waters (Pink Floyd), Roland Orzabal (Tears For Fears) and a handful of others are the last of the talented and classy acts that still appreciate their audience, put on a great show and understand who butters their bread. Dylan, Clapton and Morrison could learn a few things from them. And it would be nice if Dylan finally had a yard sale although I probably wouldn’t attend. Who wants his crap anyway.