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April 25, 2010


A good summary. You could have added that Bob's two 1987 concerts in Israel perversely drew heavily on his Christian material, although at the first he also performed a terrific version of 'Go Down, Moses.'

Asked about 'Neighborhood Bully' by Kurt Loder in 1985, he was reluctant to accept that it was a political or one-sided statement: "If you listen closely, it really could be about other things." Hmm. The conversation went on:

KL: So you haven’t resolved for yourself, for instance, the Palestinian question?

BD: Not really, because I live here.

KL: Would you ever live in Israel?

BD: I don’t know. Its hard to speculate what tomorrow may bring. I kinda live where I find myself.

KL: At another point in the song, you say, “He got no allies to really speak of,” and while “he buys obsolete weapons and he won’t be denied... no one sends flesh and blood to fight by his side.” Do you feel that America should send troops over there?

BD: No. The song doesn’t say that. Who should, who shouldn’t – who am I to say?

KL: Well, do you think Israel should get more help from the American Jewish community? I don’t want to push this too far, but it just seems so...

BD: Well, you’re not pushing it too far, you’re just making it specific. And you’re making it specific to what’s going on today. But what’s going on today isn’t gonna last, you know? The battle of Armageddon is specifically spelled out: where it will be fought and, if you wanna get technical, where it will be fought. And the battle of Armageddon definitely will be fought in the Middle East.

He has never performed the song live.

I could also mention that it is juxtaposed on 'Infidels' with the pacifistic 'License To Kill' (the phrase "license to kill" also occurs in Neighborhood Bully itself). There is a war/peace theme that runs through the album.

Don't forget his appearance at the Chabad telethon with Harry Dean Stanton and Peter Himmelman in 1988, and again in 1991.

I very much appreciate the supplementary information provided by raggedclown and Bryan. The subject does open up in interesting ways.

look man, we'd all like to claim Dylan, but he told Bob Shelton back in '78 or at least it was Bob Shelton's understanding that Dylan was American and drew all his influence from there and could never live any where else. Cause Dylan should and will retire to Texas or Ireland. Anyway Willie Nelson is Seventy and still on the Road, so why do you think a young guy like Bob aka "OLD BLUES MAN", should ever stop.
Yours Peyotedly,


Re: Don's comment: You may be right. I'm making a wild guess, and I wouldn't put a dime on my ability, or anyone else's, to guess what Dylan will do. My suspicion, though, is he'll do it his way, not Willie Nelson's or anybody else's. And he'll no doubt surprise us all.

"It is significant that there are no negative songs about Israel, no comments hostile to the Zionist enterprise, no initial embrace and later abandonment of the Jewish people's heroic return to national history."

How? Because he hasn't publicly said anything about these things, doesn't equate with support. In reality, we just don;t know and everything else is conjecture.

Singing Bear is surely correct that it all is conjecture. But Dylan's career has been punctuated by an embrace followed by a rejection. Think of the women in his life or the folk music crowd or so much else. I just thought it remarkable that with a history filled with so many examples of that pattern, it was "significant" that with Israel the pattern had not been followed.

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I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman


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