The central song in 'Inside Llewyn Davis' has been performed by everyone from Pete Seeger to Bob Dylan to Jeff Buckley.
France's law prohibiting "incitement to hatred" is itself an incitement to hatred.
Soon after I first listened to Bob Dylan’s intense new album, Tempest, a friend who’d also heard it wanted to know what a historian made of its line, early on, about the British burning down the White House. I replied that I had no idea. And many listenings later, I still don’t.
LOTTERIES, BY DEFINITION, are for losers. You enter them with an evanescent sense of grandiosity and optimism, but beneath this delusion lurks the knowledge that you wouldn’t be buying a ticket at all if you believed you had a fighting chance of obtaining the prize by normal means. Then the winner is chosen—always some distant stranger who’s notably lacking in your best traits—and it becomes insultingly apparent that you can’t beat the system by any means, including the one that you just vainly tried. The game is not only rigged against you; it isn’t really a game.
Imagine: How Creativity Works By Jonah Lehrer (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 279 pp., $26) THE YEAR IS 1965. Bob Dylan has just completed two weeks of touring in England. He is tired—exhausted actually. He needs a break. There is a tiny cabin in upstate New York where he can stay, where he can get away from it all, where he can find himself. After returning from Europe, he does just that. It’s him and his motorcycle. No more songwriting, no more guitar, no more pressure, no more responsibility. Hell, he might start working on a novel.
Nothing quite captures the myth of the vinyl-era music industry as a benevolent autocracy like the narrative of the career-making audition. A scruffy young unknown hitchhikes from the mine country of Minnesota to midtown Manhattan, where a white-haired and golden-eared man in a suit hears something in the boy that no one else has noticed and signs him to a record contract, through which fame and glory ensue.
Identity is a wildly elastic thing in the world of pop stardom, and it always has been. As human objects of fantasy, pop stars provide a way for their fans to project their maddest dreams of transformation. Eleanora Fagan escapes a torturous childhood, slips a gardenia in her hair, and becomes Billie Holiday. Robert Zimmerman shakes off his middle-class Jewish background, takes on a rockabilly persona and starts singing under the name of Elston Gunn, only to change his mind and go with a third identity, Bob Dylan. Farrokh Bulsara turns into Freddie Mercury. Onika Maraj becomes Nicki Minaj.