September 9, 2010

"[M]ore arousing than anything I’d glimpsed in furtive schoolboy copies of Playboy."

That would be the cover photo of "The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan," to the young Sean Wilentz, who has grown up to be a Princeton history prof and author of a book that fawns over Bob Dylan.
Sometimes you walk into a room and know that something is going on even though you don’t know what it is. But that’s no excuse for paraphrasing well-known song lyrics, and Mr. Wilentz sometimes paraphrases excruciatingly. “He was weary, unable to keep a grip, but also unsleepy, and with no particular place to go, he would follow the musical figure to his ‘magic swirling ship,’ out to the inspired windy beach beyond crazy sorrow,” he writes murderously of “Mr. Tambourine Man.” You love this man’s work enough to deliver a book-length tribute? Then just let him speak for himself.
Ha. Do you ever amuse yourself talking just like Bob Dylan approximately? Do you ever find a photograph of a man walking down the street with his girlfriend intensely erotic?



IN THE COMMENTS: Paul Zrimsek said:
This cries out for a photo of The Freewheelin' Meade.
Paddy O hears the cry:

68 comments:

David said...

Perhaps it was Dylan that turned him on.

I must confess, however, that when I was in college and went to nearly New York with a pretty girl, that album cover would come to mind. Plus the girl with Dylan was Precisely My Type in those days.

I was a little too old for the young Althouse. She would have been about perfect to feed that fantasy. I did like the brainy types.

Maguro said...

No...my dad had that album and the cover wasn't remotely a turn-on for me. Not sure why a tingle ran up this guy's leg. Maybe someone surreptitiously hooked him up to car battery?

Bear in mind that I didn't even have access to Playboy, I had to make do with the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. Still a lot sexier than Bob and his hippie girlfriend.

Ann Althouse said...

I'm guessing what is going on with that picture is... you're seeing that a guy has a real girlfriend, and she really likes him. It's a vivid and simple depiction of all we really need.

shoutingthomas said...

Give me a break! The Dylan worship is a bore.

I will give him credit.

The most interesting thing about Dylan is this: Back before he turned to rock, the old commie folkies were badgering him to write more "movement" songs.

They thought it was his duty to keep pushing the commie ideology. (They thought this was what he was doing.)

He told them to go fuck themselves, that he wanted to make money and be a rock star. I've always admired Dylan for that.

I can barely stand to listen to the guy. He's a great songwriter, no doubt, but he's impossible to listen to.

Interestingly, the commies (and I don't mean Ann) still idolize Dylan and believe he's one of them. Especially the kid commies.

If you want to listen to the greatest songwriter of our generation (who's also an impressive musician) listen to Willie Nelson.

I'm on the Woodstock Rescue Squad. A few weeks ago we were called out to Dylan's former house. Pretty swank mansion on top of Ohayo Mountain.

My squad leader is a carpenter. Back when Dylan lived in Woodstock, Dylan asked him to be both caretaker of his house and a personal servant (sort of Man Friday).

My squad leader refused, and gave a very good reason:

"Carrying the luggage of the rich and famous is still just carrying luggage."

Lem said...

It's a vivid and simple depiction of all we really need.

To be under-dressed in freezing weather, putting us in danger walking in the middle of the street ;)

Hoosier Daddy said...

"[M]ore arousing than anything I’d glimpsed in furtive schoolboy copies of Playboy."

Wait...they had schoolboy versions of Playboy? WTF!!! Cheated out AGAIN!!!

/stomps off

Hoosier Daddy said...

I'm guessing what is going on with that picture is... you're seeing that a guy has a real girlfriend...

That's a guy?

David said...

"I'm guessing what is going on with that picture is... you're seeing that a guy has a real girlfriend, and she really likes him. It's a vivid and simple depiction of all we really need."

Yep. And not only that, he's a cool guy and she's a cute girlfriend. Guys have romantic fantasies, just like girls do.

The girl was Suze Rotolo. She was his real girlfriend, and he had considered marrying her. She had the guts to go off to Italy and study, and was there when the album came out.

By the time she got back, he was the Next Big Thing, and out in California bonking Joan Baez.

I would have preferred Suze Rotolo. She seems to have had an interesting more or less boho life. True to her roots. Still near Greenwich Village, an artist and gallery owner of modest note, not overly obsessed with her 15 minutes of fame. (And yeah, she hung with Andy Warhol.)

Paul Zrimsek said...

This cries out for a photo of The Freewheelin' Meade.

David said...

Hoosier Daddy said...

"That's a guy?"

How old are you, Daddy? In the 60's he was pretty much The Guy. Look how young he is in that photo.
After "Freewheelin'" came "Highway 61 Revisited," the cover with the Triumph motorcycle shirt. I already had a 1951 Triumph when that came out, and a shirt just like Dylan's. For a little while, that made me a God Among Undergraduates.

After a few years in New York, I went to law school. The law review photo has me on my newer 1958 Triumph, with long hair and a fatigue jacket. Nearly everyone else in a coat and tie.

But I succumbed. Four kids will do that. I don't think twice about it. It's all right. I've got four great kids, cool grandkids and once, briefly, I was a God Among Undergraduates.

Plus now Dylan has a crappy Christmas Album. Talk about succumbing.

(wv = "emulag" That was me, baby. Or him.)

Hoosier Daddy said...

How old are you, Daddy? In the 60's he was pretty much The Guy. Look how young he is in that photo.

I'm 43 so Dylan was before my time (thank God). Sorry but I'd rather listen to cats being castrated to the tune of bagpipes. Maybe his music is an acquired taste but my ears start bleeding within two minutes of any song so it won't happen with me. As for his look, sorry I thought it was a butchy woman. Then again it was the 60s which proved that drugs and fashion don't mix.

Now if you'll excuse me I have to prepare for my Dylan album burning this weekend. I'll send Althouse some pictures to post. I'll be the tattooed guy in shorts drinking the Pabst Blue Ribbon ;-)

FormerTucsonan said...

I'm guessing what is going on with that picture is... you're seeing that a guy has a real girlfriend, and she really likes him. It's a vivid and simple depiction of all we really need.

I'm guessing that Sean Wilentz never had a real girlfriend. Or at least never had one who really liked him.

MadisonMan said...

I'm 43

I'm just this side of 50, and I agree completely with everything you wrote.

furious_a said...

Must have been the Dylan, because we resorted to Roxy Music and Ohio Players when Playboys weren't available.

Maguro said...

I'm guessing what is going on with that picture is... you're seeing that a guy has a real girlfriend, and she really likes him. It's a vivid and simple depiction of all we really need.

OK, I get it. It's same reason I used to be in love with Agent 99 in the old Get Smart TV series, though of course I didn't understand that at the time.

I guess I must have self-identified with Don Adams more than Bob Dylan.

Hoosier Daddy said...

I'm just this side of 50, and I agree completely with everything you wrote.

Thanks MadMan. Somehow I think we're in the minority opinion here. Heck, I bet Althouse just crossed Indianapolis off her tour list ;-)

On a side note, my sister-in-law is 30 or 31 and adores Dylan, always talking about what an 'artist' and 'poet' he is. But she admittedly wishes she grew up in the 60s so there you go.

ken in sc said...

That girl could be my wife. I’ve seen pictures of her from that time. Of course back then she wouldn’t have given me a second glance. My hair was too short and she hadn’t been f**ked over by those kind of men yet.

Dudley Do-right said...

I'm 65 and agree with H-Dad and Mad Man. Nor do I find anything arousing about that album cover. But it does remind me of a January walk to class at Syracuse.

Susie is kinda cute, though.

Paddy O said...

"This cries out for a photo of The Freewheelin' Meade."

The Freewheelin' Meade

Trooper York said...

Wow.

The Marx Brothers.

Now Dylan.

Now we just need a Woody Allen post and we will have covered the top three spots on the overrated douche bag hall of fame.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Nice, but how come the first song isn't "Blowin' in the Vortex"?

El Pollo Real said...

@Paddy O

LOLOLOLO!

I think I want photoshop for an early Christmas present this year!

Paddy O said...

Paul,

Great idea. Fixed it. Plus a few extras.

David said...

The cover isn't "arousing," for goodness sake. But they knew what they were selling, and it was a nice little fantasy.

I agree that some of Dylan's work is cat castration like, but some is fabulous. He has always given hope to those who can't sing very well that they might become musicians. Nowadays, they all win some Disney tryout when they are 15, and are schooled day and night by experts. Bleeah.

Sixty Grit said...

Trooper - taking a page out of C-fudd's playbook?

Trooper York said...

Nah. I just can't stand those overrated douche bags.

Give me Rodney Dangerfield, Dean Martin and Mel Brooks any day of the freakin week.

Enough with the baby boomer baloney. Jeeez.

Trooper York said...

Jersey Shore is on tonight and Jwow is gonna smother Sami Sweetheart with her huge fake boobies.

Now that's Art!!!!!!!!

shoutingthomas said...

Now we just need a Woody Allen post and we will have covered the top three spots on the overrated douche bag hall of fame.

Dylan: Jewish!
Marx Brothers: Jewish!!
Allen: Jewish!!!

Trooper York, I think we've just discovered a new bigot!

Bigotry explains everything!! Everything is bigotry!

Trooper York said...

Listen those guys weren't real Jews. Seriously.

Dylan turned to born again Christianity. Didn't you know you have to serve somebody?

Now Rodney and Mel are the real deal.

Meade said...

Paddy O: Hilarious!

I always wanted to be Bob Dylan except for, until your photo, none of his girlfriends seemed cute enough.

Trooper York said...

Plus I don't think you can really be Jewish if you marry your step daughter.

I think it is in the Old Testament somewhere around the part about coverting your neighbor's ox.

Trooper York said...

Wait that's covet. You can covert your neighbors ox if you want. That's ok.

Trooper York said...

Besides isn't Dylan a Muslim now?

Or is that Cat Stevens?

I get those overrated folk singers mixed up all the time.

Doug Wright said...

I always considered myself very fortunate that Dylan had skipped out on the Dinkytown scene by '63, leaving the star performer status to Spider John!

Cheers.

Meade said...

Btw, if you're not familiar with it yet, here's an outstanding Dylan blog.

http://www.rightwingbob.com/

John said...

The woman in the photo was cute. And she is downright scary looking these days. Now the model on the cover of Bringing It All Back Home was hot.

Figures this guy would go on to be a professor. Geeks have weird ideas about sex appeal.

Kirk Parker said...

shouting,

Not only is he a great songwriter, he's actually fairly humble (for a rock star) about his own performing--do recall his comments about Hendrix's rendition of "All Along the Watchtower".

c3 said...

I must be missing something here..


erotic!?


I thought she was just cold.

Putting and erotic in the same sentence is kinda like putting matter and anti-matter in the same place.....

c3 said...

And I have to ask the Professor,

do you listen to any modern music (i.e. made in the past 10-20 years)?

El Pollo Real said...

@c3:

cold + erotic = brrrotic!

Trooper York said...

"c3 said...
And I have to ask the Professor,

do you listen to any modern music (i.e. made in the past 30-40 years)?"

Fixed.

Almost Ali said...

Ann Althouse said...
I'm guessing what is going on with that picture is...

A boy and girl blowin' in the wind on West 4th Street, Greenwich Village. A scene so common during the 60's, it's now picture perfect.

Dylan's manner of dress was also typical, dressing light no matter how low the temperature. It had to do with traveling time - from one coffee house to another.

There was a 7' Village character back then known as "Big Brown," who wore not much more than a discarded rug. He cut a hole for his head so it hung down like a two-sided, tribal robe. But how he survived the winters, the Lord only knows.

Ann Althouse said...

"do you listen to any modern music (i.e. made in the past 10-20 years)?"

Yeah. I like Rufus Wainwright.

Also, I listened to tons of current things when my sons lived with me, which was within the last 20 years. I had bands that practiced in my basement for years, and I was the one to drive the kids to concerts and back. You'd be surprised at the list of rock bands I've seen in the last 20 years. I liked them too.

But these days, I tend to indulge myself, listening to things I've liked for a long time.

PatCA said...

I guess he's turned to the right a little in recent years, too, so all academia is wee-wee'd up about him.

Wilentz

traditionalguy said...

We were folk singers once and young, says Bob Dylan. The 1960s will never be matched for the innocence diving into a world gone wild from authority figures reneging on their assigned roles. Most of us, like Bob, learned from our experiences and did a good job raising our children.

David said...

Wilentz, by the way, is a putz of a historian. His latest (and highly praised) tome is about "the rise of America democracy" through 1860. Among other things, the book tries to put a pretty liberal face on Andrew Jackson, slavemaster, duelist, bully, economic fool and murderer of the Seminole and Cherokee.

He sees the period through 1860 as a march away from autocracy and privilege to a newer democratic ideal. He deals with the pesky fact that democracy failed and collapsed into Civil War in 1861 by blaming the south for most everything. This approach absolves the supposedly more democratic north, where great fortunes were made in slave trading, alcoholic spirits (with sugar from Caribbean slave plantations), lending to southerners and selling industrial goods and textiles into prosperous southern markets. The guilt laden abolitionist northerners proved to be racists when confronted with the reality of slaves rather than its abstract evil of slavery, and deserted the cause and the blacks to seek further fortune in the economic boom the war had brought to the north.

His book is long, detailed and highly documented. It's a perfect example of knowing everything and understanding nothing.

traditionalguy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ricpic said...

Regarding that picture: hard to believe but back then (the early '60's I'm guessing, or maybe the late '50's) Greenwich Village still retained something of the genuinely bohemian allure that had marked it since the 1890's and had peaked in the '20's (think Edna St. Vincent Millay). It's not Dylan and his girl walking down any New York street, it's Dylan and his girl walking down Bleecker Street! The professor before he was a professor was an acolyte of hip and the young Dylan hoofing it down Bleecker Street in the snow was the ne plus ultra of hip. Hence the cock riser effect.

Bob_R said...

What is the mystery here? A teenage boy had an intense erotic reaction to something that is not overtly erotic. Too long ago for me to remember, but I've heard reports that many teenage boys participate in intense, brutal athletic activities, take long cold showers, and masturbate furiously (no, not all at once) in order to avoid having spontaneous erections at inopportune moments. That's way down the list of my favorite album covers, even Dylan covers, but it doesn't surprise me that it gave the prof a chubby.

Meade said...

Ha. Do you ever amuse yourself talking just like Bob Dylan approximately? Do you ever find a photograph of a man walking down the street with his girlfriend intensely erotic?

Yeah. Like how many streets must a man walk down before he's allowed to be free to be intensely erotic with his girlfriend?

David said...

John said...

The woman in the photo was cute. And she is downright scary looking these days.

She's 67 years old, John. So am I. Last year I looked in the mirror one morning and thought "who is this old goat who is sleeping with my wife."

So be nice, John. Age gets us all sooner or later (except Sophia Loren.)

Trooper York said...

What a load of shit.

A real man only listened to Joey.

That is if you wanted a tingle in your dingle so to speak.

sydney said...

I always thought that album cover was romantic. It gave me warm fuzzy feelings, until I read somewhere that the jacket Dylan is wearing has a stain on it from the night before when he vomited on it in a drunken stupor. Took away the romance. Now, all I see is the stain.

AST said...

Do you ever amuse yourself talking just like Bob Dylan approximately? Do you ever find a photograph of a man walking down the street with his girlfriend intensely erotic?

No.

Ron said...

That bottom pic! Wait, wait, I know it...

Harry Connick, jr....and Alan Hale?

Brodrick Crawford?

No?

Uh Oh.

Stephen A. Meigs said...

I don't think the girl looks like she loves the guy all that much. She looks like she's into feeling helpless without actually being helpless, and since the guy seems perfectly OK with that, it is doubtful to me she actually would want to feel helpless when thinking of him. She looks like she is using him as a tool to encourage other males who actually want her helpless to be content with her just feeling helpless.

Neither of them look like they are particularly being themselves. She's probably the kind of girl who if young nowadays might be trying to get the rocker guy she likes to tattoo himself orange with confusing graffiti highlights so that it would become so difficult for her to figure out her natural feelings about him that it would be mostly pointless for him to force her to try, which would make her feel safe and comfy.

Methadras said...

Dylan is a waste of time. People who idolize this guy are certainly not idolizing his music, but what he 'meant' to them and what he 'stood' for to them. That's it.

jamboree said...

Never seen the picture before. It reminds me of me and my boyfriend - you know, the one that turned out to be the asshole. Apparently, we made some very aggressive people *jealous* projecting such a happy image of "all one will ever really need" in life. Temptation therefore dangled and subsequent disillusionment called, you know. (It's not actually all we really need; especially if we are young, we get bored rather quickly with it. Just because a person might enjoy it again or even more when one is old, doesn't change that.)

Actually he's dressed almost exactly like a female roommate of mine during the grunge days - except she had long brown hair. Always loved that outfit.

phx said...

On a side note, my sister-in-law is 30 or 31 and adores Dylan, always talking about what an 'artist' and 'poet' he is. But she admittedly wishes she grew up in the 60s so there you go.

The artists and poets talk about what an artist and poet Bob Dylan is.

phx said...

Oh my god it's AJ Weberman.

I don't think the girl looks like she loves the guy all that much. She looks like she's into feeling helpless without actually being helpless, and since the guy seems perfectly OK with that, it is doubtful to me she actually would want to feel helpless when thinking of him. She looks like she is using him as a tool to encourage other males who actually want her helpless to be content with her just feeling helpless.

Neither of them look like they are particularly being themselves. She's probably the kind of girl who if young nowadays might be trying to get the rocker guy she likes to tattoo himself orange with confusing graffiti highlights so that it would become so difficult for her to figure out her natural feelings about him that it would be mostly pointless for him to force her to try, which would make her feel safe and comfy.

hm said...

Re: "That's a guy?"

No, it's Cate Blanchett.

GMay said...

If that's erotic to anyone, they must be having a bit of a dry spell. If that feeling is intense, they're an overly hormonal virgin.

As for Dylan, I always did like getting to his part in my solo renditions of 'We Are the World' during my teenage years. He was a joke to me then, and still is.

Beth said...

Didn't any of you, contemporaneously, just laugh loud and long over that whole "freewheelin'!" thing? Was that not just the hokiest bit of marketing possible? And for such a great album!

Paco Wové said...

Back in the early '80s, I had a Contemporary Lit. prof. who was very disappointed that he got absolutely no reaction from us when he launched into his Dylan-is-so-overrated spiel. We were all, "Dylan? Yeah, whatever." Apparently previous generations of students would erupt in righteous indignation.

Ann Althouse said...

Bob Dylan is underrated. I've waited over 40 years for anything better, and nothing has come close.

GMay said...

If you're just waiting for more crap, then you're just not looking hard enough.

M. Simon said...

Won't you come see me Queen Ann?

Stephen A. Meigs said...

It's instructive to listen to Seeger's "Where have all the flowers gone" and compare it to "Blowin in the wind". They sound very similar to me only the former is much better (and earlier and thus more original). Sort of like Wilde's "The Ballad of Reading Gaol" is just appropriating "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" to debase the pretty word "wistful", only I don't know whether Dylan had particular bad motives.