Shelter from the Storm: Bob Dylan and Dylanologists Confront 'Chronicles' with Plagiarism Allegations, Scott Warmuth Claims Otherwise

By Ian Holubiak on May 28, 2014 12:18 PM EDT

It seems that in recent weeks all that has crossed my desk is Bob Dylan and something about "Dylanologists." Naturally, I was sucked in until the reading made me nauseous, the themes exhausting but more so the content--as it stacks to years and generations of meticulous probing to unveil a seemingly "truer" Bob Dylan--has become stale and dusty.

By now if the truth and deception behind any sort of Dylan that lured you in--of the many masks and hats that he has constructed and demolished in what feel like only moments--was discovered, it would surely have rocked the foundation of music and art, both now and to come. Right?

But the intricacies of his craft, or maybe the unwavering pursuit of finding that there even are intricacies to his craft, have enthralled an entire culture of Tambourine Man sleuths. Haven't we asked this question a thousand times to reach no solid conclusion, of achieving no moral ground to really judge him or any of his songs from?

The Dylanologists and Scott Warmuth may have found this hidden pathway to the real incentives or reasons for his creations or even, simply, being Dylan.

When I first approached Dylan with any sort of ear I didn't think "This is some guy I want to know, that I need to understand." I think I was more drawn to his hair doo than his guitar playing. His words resonated with me and filled me with something more than hot air, and that was all I really cared about.

And I admired my Dylans--the Voice of a Generation, the iconic skinny-frizzy haired rocker who played Royal Albert Hall and was the actor in Don't Look Back in 1966, the broken-hearted crooner on Blood on the Tracks and Desire, and even the born-again Christian. And it was important to me to keep my personal affinity for such Dylan-installments to myself and that's still important to me and many other Dylan fans now.

But even he has his own heroes, Guthrie may have even been the one to break his spirit when he visited him on his deathbed in New Jersey. He loved Elvis Presley and thought John Lennon was really doing something. He once told family and friends while still growing up in Minnesota that he was regional sensation Bobby V. The guy kept everyone guessing because he could, which meant if you harped on something that he already moved on from then you too were a part of the problem, of the smaller picture he was moving away from.

So with a nod to those like Warmuth, whose passions extend beyond a vague interpretation and really inspire something--fabricated or deliberately constructed by the artist himself--they are exactly like the man they idolize, who has his own fixations with his own heroes.

And those like Ian Crouch, who are brave enough to thwart the guessing game with thoughtful commentary on their own view from outside the window.

We may not understand radical fandom (and even Dylan doesn't want to or seem to understand it himself) but it's what drives these archetypes, demigods, divine figures or what ever you find fitting to continue on.

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TagsBob Dylan, Scott Warmuth, Dylanology, Don't Look Back, Ian Crouch, The New Yorker

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