That's the question I had to ask as a quote from an interview was replayed on this morning's CBS 'Early Show'. The quote, directly from Dylan's mouth, came in an interview with Joe Smith, mogul of Capitol Records (which makes one wonder if Dylan was simply spouting capitalist pabulum to appease this hotshot, or confirm his own perceptions. It's something one can't entirely dismiss).
Dylan's exact words:
“I can’t imagine people making such a big fuss over the Sixties. Unless things are so dull now they just have to think of some time when times were better.”
Leaving one to wonder if Dylan even lived the Sixties or passed through them in a semi-stoner haze. (Seemingly forgetting that much of his music provided a coherent set of anthems for revolution). Can Dylan be serious, or is it just easier to talk shit now, because nearly 70% of existing Americans never lived during the 60s and likely have no historic memory of this pivotal decade (which has shaped our own history) or even a learned acquaintance, say via course exposure.
I mean yeah, why make a "fuss" over the decade that saw two signal pieces of legislation passed (The Civil Rights Act in 1964, and Voting Rights Act in 1965) that basically conferred the practical basis for the exercise of rights to a minority of the population, that hadn't been manifested for over 100 years? Oh, and then there was the legislation that gave us Medicare, which nearly 45 million seniors depend on now and without which they'd likely be dying in ditches, unattended and impecunious.
Let’s also be clear that only an idiot, or semi-comatose stoner fool would opine that people reference the 60s now as “some time when times were better”. Are you effing kidding me? A decade of upheaval with four major assassinations – including of John F. Kennedy, his brother Robert, and Martin Luther King – essentially the entire solid core of American liberalism at that time. (Accounting for how we veered into namby-pamby, free market Neo-liberalism as a capitalist, whore substitute for the real McCoy).
Is Dylan even remotely aware that the year 1968 is perhaps the most critical turning point in World history over the past fifty years? Wherein we beheld the flourishing of a youth revolution not only in the USA but overseas, from Paris to Prague to Africa? Is he remotely aware of how that youth revolution was ultimately destroyed in this country, via the vile Nixonian-Hoover established program of COINTELPRO, whereby FBI agents passed themselves off as protestors and actually sabotaged, disrupted the protests to turn public opinion against them?
To be frank: Does Bob Dylan need a re-education class, or more likely, one in remedial American History? Any twit who believes, seriously, that too many people make a "fuss" over the 60s doesn't have clue one about their importance to what events have followed, or how many aspects of American history have been deformed because of failing to support and reinforce the positive changes. Also, the decrepit notion (fostered by the Neoliberal media) that the 'Sixties' are mainly a "Boomer obsession" and are best left to dry up in national memory. A concept and meme promoted by cultural, political and historical Neandertals oblivious to the axiom that "past is prologue".
Is Dylan aware (or does he recall) that up until the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty was signed in August, 1963 we were all subjected to monster hydrogen bomb tests in our atmosphere? (I can still recall a 100 megaton Soviet H-bomb test in Siberia that had radiation traversing most of the globe). Is he freaking remotely aware how the world – the human world – came within minutes of possible nuclear annihilation in October, 1962? That was when we last had a President with the balls – the sheer cojones --- to tell his military Joint Chiefs to put a sock in it, as he ignored their advice to attack and bomb a nation that actually had 93 armed IRBMS aimed at us and ready to fire? (Readers can read more of the background details in this earlier blog: http://brane-space.blogspot.com/2012/01/50-year-old-jfk-tapes-released-what-is.html
How fast memory fades, or maybe it's that Dylan’s success (mostly parlayed out of the 60s’ protest culture, e.g. his song 'The Times They Are a Changin') made him so fat, rich and happy he could afford to forget. Talk about cultural ingrates! One wonders then if he just jabbered out the words to his various tunes under a stoner haze, and he himself never processed what they meant. Or maybe successive stoner hazes induced a permanent forgetfulness
Then there was the 1963 Kennedy assassination itself, which many corrupt Elites in this country are still trying to sweep under the rug, because they know the perverse subtext underscoring the event: that it meant the violent overthrow of the last truly liberal president in order to open the way forward to a permanent national security –war state. One that has now bled down our coffers to the point of rendering this country one election cycle away from being a third rate banana republic - say compared to China, which has used 14 times less on military expenditures, and now features perhaps the most enhanced economy on the planet (and is one of our main creditors) while it is able to now implement a creditable manned space program - while we're reduced to hitching rides with the Russkies to the International Space Station!
Meanwhile in the same assassination, setting up a working class guy as the stooge, the decoy, the CIA chosen patsy (to protect extremist right wing militarists and disaffected anti-Castro Cubans) and doing so after eliminating Lee Oswald in a planned second hit, then forming a bogus “commission” to pass judgment after he was six feet under and could no longer speak for himself. And not content with the immediate cover-up, painstakingly constructing an anti-conspiracy meme that conflates whacko plots (like black UN helicopters) with actual conspiracies such as the JFK hit, to discredit anyone who might challenge the orthodoxy handed down from on high.
No wonder I can still recall (and treasure) the words of my dad, a World War II vet, in the last conversation I had with him before he died in July 2009 (after he learned I was writing a book on the JFK assassination):
“Just promise me your book will clear the name of a working class man. Don’t let those murderous bastards have the last word! I didn’t fight three years in the Pacific to have them replace the right to free speech with filth and lies to kill a president they hated!”
I promised Dad then I was committed to the fight, and I have been so since I have myself beheld the vile actions of the ideological spawn of those vermin: blowing 73 innocents out of the skies off Barbados in 1976. Once you’ve seen the filth and vermin, you KNOW who is responsible – not only for Kennedy’s killing, but how much of this nation has been destroyed in its wake because of the resultant fear and loathing of government because of its complicity and dishonesty.
Plot if you will, the trajectory of government distrust (in polls) since the Kennedy assassination, and you will behold a steady downward slope that over 50 years is almost negative exponential, say approximating y ~ x * exp(-3/2). Little wonder then that the Neoliberal Elites and their lackeys, PR mavens, disinfo specialists and media hacks quiver and quake and contemplate all manner of propaganda ruses and subterfuge by which to keep the American people in the dark on this pivotal event - abetted by the National Archives no less!
Anyone who doesn't understand the signifcance of this singular event, and how it hurled this nation off a more moral and edifying path, has no business blowing smoke about the Sixties or accusing others of "fussing" over them. The critics are more akin to immature frat boys tossing turds into a high class party to which they're not invited. And yes, btw, they can join those other CIA-supplier cliques (mostly Yalie frat boys ....e.g from 'Skull & Bones') who have sought relentlessly to spread lies and disinformation about those critical years and the events that transpired ...mainly concerning the assassinations of JFK, MLK, RFK and Malcolm X.
For those with a serious as opposed to dilettante interest in the Sixties, get hold of and read the book 'The Sixties' (Oxford University Press, 1998) by Arthur Marwick. If you are just interested in the Kennedy aspect, I have written more than ample blogs since 2009. Or, you can purchase my book, The JFK Assassination: The Final Analysis.
As for Bob Dylan, it appears perhaps he lived in the decade but didn't really live it. Maybe he took the words of one of his ditties ('Everybody Must Get Stoned') too literally in the sense of being stoned all the time!