WEIRDLAND: Bob Dylan's "Triplicate", Jim Morrison and Lou Reed (Rock & Roll Masculine Mystique)

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Bob Dylan's "Triplicate", Jim Morrison and Lou Reed (Rock & Roll Masculine Mystique)


Triplicate (planned to be released by Columbia Records on March 31, 2017) marks Bob Dylan’s 38th studio album to date following 2016’s Fallen Angels. Triplicate sees the Nobel laureate covering 30 American standards by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Charles Strouse, Lee Adams, Harold Hupfield, and Cy Coleman & Carolyn Leigh. All three discs of Triplicate are presented in a thematically-arranged 10-song sequence. "Rock and roll was indeed an extension of what was going on – the big swinging bands – Ray Noble, Will Bradley, Glenn Miller, I listened to that music before I heard Elvis Presley. But rock and roll was high energy, explosive and cut down," says Dylan: "It was skeleton music, came out of the darkness... Rock and roll was a dangerous weapon, chrome plated, it exploded like the speed of light, it reflected the times, especially the presence of the atomic bomb which had preceded it. Back then people feared the end of time. The big showdown between capitalism and communism was on the horizon. Rock and roll made you oblivious to the fear, busted down the barriers that race and religion, ideologies, put up. We lived under a death cloud; the air was radioactive. There was no tomorrow, any day it could all be over." 

Here’s Dylan on whether he picks vocal approaches like an actor playing a role: “An actor playing a role? Like who? Scatman Crothers? George C. Scott? Steve McQueen? It would probably be more like a method actor, whatever a method actor is. Remembrance of things past, I do that all the time.” Asked if he was a fan of the tragic singer Amy Winehouse, Dylan says, "Yeah, absolutely. She was the last real individualist around." Source: www.billboard.com

-There are stories of Jim Morrison being courted by the Hollywood industry, but he torpedoed any chance of that by alienating producers, directors, agents and actors with a cocky attitude... 

-Frank Lisciandro: I just didn’t see that type of behavior from Jim in these situations. Jim was much more passive than actively hostile to people. So rather than become abusive or cop an attitude, he’d get drunk and screw it up that way, ducking out of situations that frustrated him. The fact is that 90% of what I hear about Jim Morrison strikes me as being absolutely wrong. And the ultimate irony is how that type of spin has impacted his own life story and turned it upside down to the degree that it’s nearly impossible to find any truth…I think he would be amazed at what has been said about him over the years. He was more interested in whether the media was beginning to control the thought patterns of society in some horrible ways. His main concern was that the media should not have control over our lives, that was the strongest political statement he ever made.

-Jim's stage persona was the character he played. He was acting a part. Maybe it was insecurity that forced him to become someone else. Maybe some people might find it strange that Jim was a huge Elvis and Beach Boys fan, but Jim heard something in their music that he enjoyed. At parties, he would want people to put on either Elvis or the Beach Boys. Jim really, really loved the Beach Boys. I remember this one time we were driving around and Dylan’s song “And Dogs Run Free” from his album “New Morning”, came on. And it was funny that this amazingly abstract, jazzy song with almost spoken poetry was on the radio. I remember Jim smiling and saying, “Only Dylan could get that played on the radio”. Jim was honoring Dylan’s power as an artist that he could make something so out of the mainstream and still get it played on a rock station. Source: www.lisciandrophotos.com

Lester Bangs wrote this defense of Jim Morrison back in 1981 for Creem Magazine, reminding people of the indelible mark Morrison had made on rock ‘n’ roll and the reach of his influence: Jim Morrison was really the end of the Masculine Mystique as celebrated American culture up to and through rock ‘n’ roll; he was a master of the sly inflectional turn, so that his every utterance, no matter how repetitious, rolled out oozing irony and sanity. A strategy scripted from day one to ultimately reveal that all rock stars were huge oafus cartoons. Jim understands the single kernel of no mind koan-truth that eluded both philosophers and poets (including Patti Smith) over the centuries: that our attempts to rationalize death are beautifully, lovingly funny. Jim was hip to the comedy implicit in romantic obsessor: “I pressed her thigh and death smiled… We could plan a murder or start a religion.” The Beatnik poets gave birth to Jim Morrison, a giant resplendent in the conviction that clowning is ultimately sexy.

Lou Reed enjoyed a solo career renaissance primarily by passing himself off as the most burnt-out reprobate around (and it wasn't all show by a long shot). People kept expecting him to die, so he perversely came back, not to haunt them, but to clean up. The central heroic myth of the sixties was the burnout. Lou Reed was necessary because he had the good sense to realize that the whole concept of sleaze, of decadence, degeneracy, was a joke and he turned himself into a clown. A large part of Lou's mythic appeal has always been his total infantilism. Like Jim Morrison, Lou Reed realized the implicity absurdity of the rock 'n' roll bète-noire badass pose and parodied it, deglamorized it. Lou Reed, like all the heroes, is there for the beating up. They wouldn't be heroes if they were infallible, they wouldn't be heroes if they weren't miserable wretched dogs, the pariahs of the earth.  –"Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung" (2013) by Lester Bangs

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