Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Next Dylan Revisited

Nobody will ever have a life that mirrors Bob Dylan with his influence, longevity, relevance and success. Likewise, nobody will have the cannon of apocryphal tales that surround the persona that is Bob Dylan. This is a series of articles that compare different prominent pop culture figures that, at some point in their career, have paralled Dylan. The original Next Dylan ramble can be found here.

Early on in his career, Dylan was the folk music darling. He was connected to the past legends including a relationship with the aged Woody Guthrie. He had a very successful debut into the recording industry and his fans lived and died by his every word and saw him as a messiah who had come to deliver them. He may not have been pinned as a phenom from an early age, but he definitely burst onto the scene relatively young and had immediate success. Whether he had sold his soul or was given his gifts, he was undoubtedly talented beyond measure.

I wasn't around in July of 1965 when Dylan plugged in at the Newport Folk Festival, a stones throw from New York City, and went electric. But I know it has gone down in folklore as being an alientating and momentus event. I'm not sure if Pete Seeger really had an axe and was considering cutting the microphone cable and if he really thought that Dylan was disgracing folk music by going electric. But I do know that people booed Dylan, that he was called a traitor, that his artistic decisions were questioned. Everyone had a comment and a critique about his decision and for years, it would be the moment that defined his career.

There’s no way, with hindsight, I would’ve ever called up Larry, called up Magic, and said 'Hey look, let’s get together and play on one team.' - Michael Jordan

Fast forward to July of 2010. A similar parallel develops just outside of New York City at the Greenwich Boys and Girls Club. A young, talented superstar alienated his fan base and set off a chain reaction of responses and accusations that paralleled those of Dylan going electric. The lore behind his decision is more defined by the media coverage than first hand accounts, but it has still managed to find a way into our pop culture cannon.

Dylan went electric and LeBron made a decision. Dylan went on to release Highway 61 Revisited that has one of the best songs ever written and was the ultimate response to the backlash following his treason. LeBron has gone on to have a fantastic post season and has gone a long way to quiet his critics. And we are about to find out if he has a "Like A Rolling Stone" waiting for us in the Finals.

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