Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Bob & Joan & Gender

OK--I was never a big Bob Dylan fan until recently. My husband is a big, big fan. When I met my future husband and found that out, I told him that I thought that Bob Dylan's songs would be better if someone else sang them.

Well, we all grow up.

Listening to "Baby, Let Me Follow You Down" as an adult (in the contemporary era, I think you reach adulthood someplace just shy of 30) is an amazing experience. What an erotic song--what an incredible testament to male heterosexual longing. As a girl, you think about being the object of that type of attention--overwhelming, exciting, etc. As a woman, you think (or at least I think), wow, why can't a woman make that same kind of expression about a man? I'm not sure the gender reversal works in this case--my feeling is that women who express that kind of unadulterated, focused longing for a single individual for an extended period of time (no matter the duration) and actually vocalize that are rather quickly labeled stalkers. Guys freak out and fall apart if they're the target of the same stuff they dish out at any rate.

Ok, so the play-by-play on the Scorsese documentary: Joan Baez makes this amazing comment--she's sleeping with Bob (as she puts it, he's a 'special friend') and they're performing together and she talks about how before each performance she's thinking about how she's going to handle whatever mood Bob is in: withdrawn, gregarious, whatever. Oh, caretaker, wifey-woman. We don't hear Bob talk about how attuned he was to Joan's moods. Bob is curiously and immediately comfortable with being the center of all attention. Ok, so let's quote a Dylan song I really hate, "Just like a he-man . . ."

Bob does show himself, throughout the documentary, to be a very generous musician, very appreciative of other talents, etc.--except for Joan. She talks about how, on a trip to England in '65 or something, she had trailed on after him, because he was a 'special friend' and how she wasn't into the whole rockstar trashing the hotel room stuff, and didn't get a lot of time with Bob, and how she kept expecting him to bring her out on stage to perform during the tour, yet he didn't. And she thought it was particularly unfair, given that when he was just starting out and she brought him along on her tour, she brought him out on stage.

When the interviewer tells Bob about what Joan said during her interview, he looks both pained and annoyed, and says, "you can't be wise and in love at the same time, and I think she'd catch on to that." To which my husband quips, 'no, it's, you can't be wise and an asshole at the same time.'

Yeah, Bob is way cool (no sarcasm, really, just appreciation), but he's a guy, man, a guy first and foremost. That's his energy. So when do female writers and poets get their chance to be like that, stop being so fucking giving and be a little more gloriously self-centered, and self-centered to great adoring acclaim?

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