Historian Douglas Brinkley has an interview with Bob Dylan in the latest Rolling Stone. (We hosted Brinkley at CAS last year, so I guess I’m two degrees of separation from Bob!) At one point, Dylan bristles at a certain phrase used to describe his work:
Brinkley: Are you missing what some critics call the older, weirder America?
Dylan: I never thought the older America was weird in any way whatsoever. Where do people come up with that stuff? To call it that? What’s the old weird America? The depression? Or Teddy Roosevelt? What’s old and weird?
Yeah, where do people come up with that stuff?
Dylan to Nora Ephron in 1965: Folk music is the only music where it isn’t simple. It’s never been simple. It’s weird, man, full of legend, myth, Bible and ghosts.
I know, I know: you are shocked, shocked! to catch Bob Dylan in a contradiction, or shrugging off a label applied to him by his fans. Alert Greil Marcus! Still, I’m protective of the old weird America idea.