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ZNN SUNDAY OPINION
These days, famous musicians’ legacy is constantly under attack: every musician’s past is currently re-examined under the moral compass of today’s values and it’s clear that plenty of rock stars would not pass the test. The past is full of violence, abuse, rape, and rock & roll history is paved with stories of domestic abuse, murders, cheating men, violent fights, and paedophilia. Or is it?
Elvis Presley met his wife Priscilla when she was just 14, and Jerry Lee Lewis’s seventh marriage was to a 13-year-old, the daughter of his cousin. Miles Davis and Ike Turner were wife beaters. Phil Spector put a loaded gun to the head of many people, abused his wife and shot his last girlfriend. Johnny Cash cheated on June Carter, Brian Jones hit Anita Pallenberg, James Brown sent his women to the hospital, David Bowie, Iggy Pop, and Mick Jagger slept with underage girls, Jimmy Page kept his underage girlfriend in a locked hotel room… it goes on and on, and there are very few legacies that could not be destroyed by a scrutiny of past behaviours.
But if you look at recent articles re-examining famous musicians’ past behaviours, like this one, or this one, or this one… you will have a hard time finding Dylan’s name, because it’s simply not there. It’s not there.
In olden days, a glimpse of stocking
Was looked on as something shocking.
But now, God knows,
It’s. Not. There.
His name is not found among glam rockstars who had a debauched lifestyle and slept with underage girls.
There is plenty of true and untrue fodder for those who want to criticise Bob Dylan, there are many stories about his alleged infidelity and alleged hard-hearted treatment of girlfriends… none of which are your business or ours. You could mention the cold-hearted way he disregarded Joan Baez, or about his alleged numerous affairs, again, none of which are our business.
Ough money to let Max Gordon
Produce his shows,
The world has gone mad today
And good’s bad today,
And black’s white today,
And day’s night today,
And that gent today
You gave a cent today
Once had several chateaux.
But this is different, musicians are humans like us, with flaws; even geniuses are flawed, especially geniuses.
Artists’ legacy should never be judged through their faults, whether it is infidelity, bad love affairs, or secret children. For many people, the separation between the art and the artist has become more and more complicated during this #metoo era, but these shortcomings are simply irrelevant. Dylan’s biographers would probably agree: his alleged womanising behaviour and cold treatment of women only reveal a flawed human being, something all too common among artists, but should never affect our perception of his art.
However, with the recent Joan Carra allegations, we are talking about something completely different. The allegations are not pointing to flawed relationships but to real perversity: threats of physical violence and sexual molestation and abuse of a 12-year-old.
This is something completely unheard of in Dylan’s complicated and busy love life, something that doesn’t fit with his character and what we already know of the man. To be a bit more credible, Joan Carra should have picked another target, another ‘70s musician whose past behaviour was a bit more compatible with her outrageous accusations.
Just think of those shocks you’ve got
And those knocks you’ve got
And those blues you’ve got
From that news you’ve got
And those pains you’ve got
(If any brains you’ve got)
From those little radios.
So Missus R., with all her trimmin’s,
Can broadcast a bed from Simmons
‘Cause Franklin knows
Instead, she chose the least probable candidate – Bob Dylan – to throw her disgraceful and scandalous allegations, this is even more ridiculous that she realises. However, her only criterion may have been the recent sale of Dylan’s rights to his music catalogue for USD$300 million.
Joan Carra chose Bob Dylan to accuse, in our opinion, falsely and with malice. He’s on many lists but not the “naughty” list. In this age where as many have sang, “anything goes” Bob Dylan is at the top of other lists – all the right ones.
He’s the top. Take it away Frank and Ethel: