The civil rights movement in the early 1960s not only was NOT the way to establish yourself as a commercial artist - there wasn't a big enough audience. It was also risky. Dylan might have vanished out of there without a trace. Also, those were the days when the F.B.I. kept files on anyone involved in any civil rights or anti-war protests. Being involved in the civil rights movement got a lot of people killed. I don't think Dylan got into that lightly and can't imagine that Dylan was capable of writing a song about the murder of Medgar Evers in order to make a career for himself. As far as how "out on a limb" Dylan crawled in terms of personal risk, there was that very unfortunate remark he made in 1963 at the National Emergency Civil Liberties Committee where he made a public comment that "I got to admit that the guy who shot President Kennedy, Lee Harvey Oswald.....I saw something of myself in him." Dylan didn't mean he was capable of shooting the president, he seemed to mean that he could find a way to sympathize with how far outside of mainstream acceptance of the status quo Oswald had drifted. Even when he articulated it miserably, Dylan did not ever seem to be playing some part but rather saying (or trying to) what he really believed, no matter how objectionable. But back in those days, remarks like that got the attention of J. Edgar Hoover and it's almost a miracle that comment did not kill off Dylan's career right there. And as I said, people who said far less inflammatory things were blackballed and unable to work, hounded and spied on by the F.B.I., and sometimes injured or even killed. People who weren't there don't get how much the early 1960s in the U.S., especially the civil rights movement, found people on both sides playing for keeps. I don't think there are very many people who got involved in that who did it to make a career from doing it. Way too risky in almost every way.
As far as Bob only having been involved in that as a way to get a foot in the door as a musician, to me it's not credible. His history belies that. He was arguably the most revered and admired modern musician in the U.S. when he released "Slow Train Coming," a great album that actually had the effect of marginalizing him, earning him tremendous ridicule and as far as 'the market' went, knocking him off balance for many years. Yet if he believed it, he did it. I think the one thing about Dylan is whatever it was, at the time, he genuinely meant it. It ignores the entire way he's lived his life and conducted himself to believe he ever took on any particular "stance" or "attitude" or "political beliefs" as a way to advance his work commercially. I'm one of those people who really don't think he ever cared what anyone else thought about his work. I love that phrase "Who are you that I should have to lie?"
Nice encore Rev - you nailed it again. Perfect.
You remind me here of the classic speech by Gregory Peck at the Kennedy Center awards for Bob Dylan -
""When I was a little kid in La Jolla, California, which is a very
small town, we had a parade on the 4th of July and I remember clearly
the sight of Civil War veterans marching down the main street, kicking
up the dust. The first time I heard Bob Dylan, it brought back that
memory. And I thought of him as something of a Civil War type. A kind
of 19th century troubadour. A maverick American spirit. The reediness
of his voice and the spareness (?) of his words go straight to the
heart of America.
Some time ago I bought a new Dylan album and I was listening to a song
called Brownsville Girl (come on now...are we really to believe that
he just happened to listen to it?) and I heard these lines:
There was a movie I seen one time. I think I saw it through (sic)
twice. It starred Gregory Peck. He wore a gun and was shot in the
back. I just can't get it out of my head.
Dylan was singing about a picture that I made called The Gunfighter
about the lone man in town with people comin' in to kill him and
everybody wants him out of town before the shooting starts.
When I met Bob, years later, I told him that meant a lot to me and the
best way I could sum *him* up is to say - Bob Dylan has never been
*about* to get out of town before the shootin' starts. Thank you, Mr.
Dylan, for rocking the country...and the ages.""