An extremely bad day, and not just there.
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Fifty years ago this summer, my pal, Marvin Goldberg, put the car radio in his little blue Triumph sports car on a local Virginia station that played “folk songs.” The station was WAVA. “There’s this really great singer they play a lot,” he said. “Name’s Bob Dylan.”
As we sped through the Fairfax, Virginia night, on the then empty Dulles Access Highway, sure enough, the next song to come up was Dylan’s “It Ain’t Me, Babe,” an anti-love song that lit my brains on fire.
Dylan’s raspy voice said that he was not going to be totally devoted, that he was no one’s love slave, that he was his own man. And he was angry that the question even came up.
From then on, he was my hero. It wasn’t because he was the voice of my generation — anti-segregation, anti-war, questioning, mocking. It was that for the first time I had ever heard, a popular musician expressed the most basic of human emotions — anger, poetically and unsparingly. His song about the wrongful death of a poor black hotel worker, Hattie Carroll, because she was hit with a cane by a wealthy landowner’s son at a Baltimore hotel society gathering, has many of its facts wrong… but the emotions of outrage he expresses at what whites could do to blacks in my home state of Maryland fifty years ago were searingly on target.
He was not content to be a folk singer. He became an electric guitarist and rock star with the best rock song of all time, “Like a rolling stone.” I still don’t know what it means, but then I don’t know what a sunset means either and I love them both.
For more than fifty years, Bob Dylan has been giving us songs of genius that no one else even touches. This little boy from the Mesabi Range in Minnesota has come to be — to many of us — the greatest poet — by far — of the postwar era.
Now, he is getting the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama. He deserves it. No singer that I am aware of ever hit the notes of what life really is, what humans really are, better than Dylan. I have spent more hours listening to him than to all other human beings on the planet put together and it will never be enough. Well done, Mr. President. Well done, Bob. I have not spoken to Marvin in forty years. I don’t know why.
By the way, Mr. President, I caught your speech about Afghanistan tonight. It is EXACTLY the same as Nixon’s speeches about Vietnamizing the Vietnam war some forty years ago. I suspect it will work out about as well. Can Mr. Obama really be that ignorant of history and reality? Yes, he can.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?