What’s Wrong With Bob Dylan? Acceptance Speech At Person Of The Year Award Ceremony Shows He Hasn’t Learned A Thing From His Past
Apparently Bob Dylan is a mean, vengeful human being. At least that's the personality he chose to disclose at his acceptance speech as the MusiCares Person of the Year - at a ceremony on Friday evening. The event - a precursor to the Grammy's - was a hot ticket event as the reclusive Dylan usually shy's away from the press and the public. Maybe he should have on this night, too.
The speech was 20 minutes long and allowed Dylan the chance to call out by name the people he likes and the people he doesn't.
Apparently Nashville and country music in particular are not though of very kindly by him.
Dylan first chose to spear legendary singer/songwriter Merle Haggard:
“Merle Haggard didn’t even think much of my songs,” Dylan said in his speech. “I know he didn’t. He didn’t say that to me, but I know way back when he didn’t. Buck Owens did, and he recorded some of my early songs. ‘Together Again,’ that’s Buck Owens. And that trumps anything else out of Bakersfield. Buck Owens or Merle Haggard? If you had to have somebody’s blessing, you can figure it out.”
Then, Dylan turned his weapon on Tom T Hall:
"Now some might say Tom was a great songwriter, and I’m not going to doubt that. At the time, during his interview, I was actually listening to a song of his on the radio in the recording studio. It was called “I Love.” And it was talking about all the things he loves. An everyman song. Trying to connect with people. Trying to make you think he’s just like you and you’re just like him. We all love the same things. We’re all in this together.
Tom loves little baby ducks. Slow-moving trains and rain. He loves big pickup trucks and little country streams. Sleep without dreams. Bourbon in a glass. Coffee in a cup. Tomatoes on a vine and onions.
Now listen, I’m not every going to disparage another songwriter. I’m not gonna do that. I’m not saying that’s a bad song, I’m just saying it might be a little over-cooked."
Continuing, Dylan praised Kris Kristofferson, his song “Sunday Morning Coming Down,” and said, “That one song blew Tom T. Hall’s world apart. It might have sent him to the crazy house. God forbid he ever heard one of my songs. If ‘Sunday Morning Coming Down’ rattled Tom’s cage and sent him into the looney bin, my songs surely would have made him blow his brains out.”
Not long after the speech, Merle Haggard defended himself via Twitter with kind words of disbelief:
“Bob Dylan I’ve admired your songs since 1964. ‘Don’t Think Twice’ Bob, Willie and I just recorded it on our new album.”
Tom T Hall - meanwhile - was silent. Hall - who recently lost his wife of almost 50 years a week or so ago was perhaps busy mourning. Or - perhaps more realistically, was stunned by this incorrigible and spiteful act. It wasn't like Hall did any harm to Dylans career over the years - in fact - who knew that Dylan even knew who Tom T Hall was.
Dylan also speared Atlantic Records executive Ahmet Ertegun, songwriters Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller, and singer Marsha Ambrosius.
I'll simply add this: It's apparent that Bob Dylan the 73 year old man standing on the stage in Los Angeles didn't learn a thing from Robert Zimmerman the teenager - who he has always claimed was misunderstood and ridiculed by his Hibbing school classmates. Bob Dylan the 73 year old also didn't apparently learn anything from Bob Dylan at 25 - who was booed by the crowd at the Newport Folk Festival. Over the years, Dylan has spoken about both scenarios - suggesting that they hurt him. Hurt his feelings. Hurt his emotions.
How fitting then that when he finally had his chance - after years of recording success and a celebrity lifestyle - that he chose to be hurtful to a bunch of people people who weren't even there in the crowd to defend themselves. Instead of keeping his thoughts to himself and accepting the accolades as they came his way, he choose to bully a handful of people - some of whom had no direct affect on his career.
After all these years, Bob Dylan is showing us the coward he really is.
[A music commentary/opinion piece that does not necessarily reflect the views of TSM]