It's official: Bob Dylan has no integrity

In the slew of also-ran movies released during the cinematic abyss of February this year, you might have missed Drive Angry, a nu-metal and semen-drenched muscle-car flick starring Nic Cage as a leather-jacket-clad badass named John Milton who (wait for it) escapes from Hell to save his granddaughter from some kind of cult. And if you did, that's too bad, because Drive Angry was fucking awesome.

A cursory glance at Nic Cage's filmography reveals almost nothing to suggest that Cage is the recipient of two Academy Awards. Indeed, he took Best Actor for his work in Leaving Las Vegas and Adaptation — but those two excellent films are hardly the reason Nic Cage is one of my favorite actors; I love Nic Cage because almost everything else he's done has been absolute crap. Over the course of more than seventy movies, Cage has done no more than ten that were objectively worth seeing; his catalogue of work is utterly devoid of integrity — but that also means that it's without pretension, and there's something great about that, because Nic Cage is awesome in every one of those turds. No matter how odious the role, Nic Cage will hurl himself at it with the same unhinged glee with which he hurls himself at everything else.

What I'm trying to say is, Nic Cage is the Bob Dylan of actors.

Like Cage's, Dylan's oeuvre also reveals a ridiculous degree of output — some seventy albums, including concerts and compilations — a large portion of which is crap. There's a lot of greatness in there (Highway 61 Revisited, Blood on the Tracks, Blonde on Blonde), but volume-wise, the majority comprises forgettable turds like Street Legal, Shot of Love and Knocked Out Loaded. Still, no matter how inessential, hastily assembled or destitute of purpose, they all, just by virtue of Dylan being Dylan, have something — maybe even just a couple of lyrics — worthwhile. And while his output has improved somewhat in consistency since the late '90s, let's not forget his Christmas album from just two years ago, which yielded possibly my favorite quote about Dylan ever, from NPR critic Ken Tucker: "He makes 'I'll Be Home for Christmas' sound more like a threat than a promise."

Bob Dylan has no integrity.

Which is why it should be no surprise whatsoever that he's loaning out his material to some of today's more loathsome pop stars for a tribute called  Chimes of Freedom: Songs of Bob Dylan Honoring 50 Years of Amnesty International. I'm electing to ignore that it's for a good cause.

Because make no mistake: This album will be fucking atrocious. All you really need to do is try to imagine Ke$ha rendering "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" or Miley Cyrus rendering any Dylan song (she hasn't announced which one she'll do yet) to know that it would be absolute sacrilege if there were anything sacred about Dylan. So it's a good thing there isn't. Dylan doesn't give a shit about being sacred, and there's something great about that. Something audacious. Something, I daresay, admirable.

Because it takes a great artist to make great art, but it takes a heroic one to repeatedly shit all over it.

 
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21 comments
Dewey Paul Moffitt
Dewey Paul Moffitt

This article is ridiculous. The author is ignorant of mechanical royalty laws which allow any artist to cover another without permission as long as they pay the required royalty rate. Bob Dylan's integrity has nothing whatsoever to do with whether or not Amnesty International produces a tribute album to him and his integrity also has no bearing on the 75 artists who made the decision themselves to contribute without compensation to this project. The words come across more as a mere negative rant than a worthy piece of intelligent journalism.

Monica
Monica

Nick Cage is not an actor.

Doctornamtab
Doctornamtab

Haters to the left of me. Haters to the right of me. Here I am. Stuck in the middle with Jeff Ote. Ok I know its not Dylan but seriously, you can't defend ALL the work of your favorite artists. Neil Young, Pearl Jam, Pink Floyd, on and on and on. They all put out crap. Thats what it means to be an artist. A human being! Not everything Dylan touched is made of gold, people. And if any of you have artistic inclinations, you have made complete crap as well. Sorry to break it to you.

yevisha
yevisha

are you insane? street legal is one of the best albums ever produced. the other two you mention maybe not so great but hey. you def. have a point re cage

RyanJohnSmith
RyanJohnSmith

It's not satire if you have to explain it...

Anthony Picco
Anthony Picco

I am a big Dylan fan and couldn't care less who uses his songs... if more people discover Dylan, then that's all the better... take your pinkie out of the air, snob..

Franz
Franz

Thing is, Dylan probably wouldn't care about the reviewer's opinion or the opinion of anybody writing in to defend him. Integrity? What's that, Mr. Jones? You think something's happening here but you don't know what is do you? Nothing's happening except a writer has dead space to fill, a deadline to meet, a need to create a look-at-me-look-at-me piece. I came here from another part of the web. Now I will return, disappointed. Good luck working on your rhetorical skills. Unless you don't feel a need to improve. In which case...good luck.

Delia Delion
Delia Delion

I love it when people with no talent think they're entitled to put down one of the greatest talents this country has ever produced--or probably will ever produce. Don't you have something important to do? Oh wait, probably not.

Jack Silverman
Jack Silverman

Jef Otte -

Do you really consider yourself a reviewer. Your use of language is atracious and you really have no concept of what you aret alking about.

Jef Otte
Jef Otte

Ryan, that's entirely untrue. Satire has eluded the dense since time immemorial. If you don't believe me, I suggest you revisit "A Modest Proposal." Then again, it's kind of a moot point, since this article isn't satire.

Jef Otte
Jef Otte

He almost definitely wouldn't care about my opinion, Franz. That's kind of the whole point.

Jef Otte
Jef Otte

I don't think I'm putting him down, Delia. Dylan is a great artist, and all I'm doing is pointing to his artistic flaws and arguing he's even greater for having them. It seems a little irresponsible for you to conclude that I'm putting him down just because I realize he has flaws.

Franz
Franz

"That's kind of the whole point." So you mean to say you wrote the column because the subject wouldn't care about the column. So you don't actually give a crap about what you're writing. That's even more bleak than your incoherent opinions.

Jef Otte
Jef Otte

Clever, Franz. The point of the column is that Dylan doesn't give a shit what anybody thinks (i.e., he wouldn't care what I think) and that I admire that about him -- interestingly, pretty much the same point you seem to be trying to make in your original comment. A closer reading may have revealed that I was already saying it for you.

 
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