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An Odyssey In Reverse
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Bob Dylan on what intrigues him about Barack Obama:

He’s got an interesting background. He’s like a fictional character, but he’s real. First off, his mother was a Kansas girl. Never lived in Kansas though, but with deep roots. You know, like Kansas bloody Kansas. John Brown the insurrectionist. Jesse James and Quantrill. Bushwhackers, Guerillas. Wizard of Oz Kansas. I think Barack has Jefferson Davis back there in his ancestry someplace. And then his father. An African intellectual. Bantu, Masai, Griot type heritage — cattle raiders, lion killers. I mean it’s just so incongruous that these two people would meet and fall in love. You kind of get past that though. And then you’re into his story. Like an odyssey except in reverse.

Dylan obviously knows a thing or two about 1) being a fictional character and 2) being on an odyssey. He was drawn to Obama early after reading his memoir, Dreams From My Father. “His writing style hits you on more than one level. It makes you feel and think at the same time and that is hard to do. He says profoundly outrageous things. He’s looking at a shrunken head inside of a glass case in some museum with a bunch of other people and he’s wondering if any of these people realize that they could be looking at one of their ancestors.” This also sounds like Dylan to me.

(PS: Link to the Times of London interview fixed.)

4 comments

Your link is empty! But this is nice. (I looked for myself and found more here.)

I have to wonder whether he’s going to publish any more volumes of Chronicles. It’d be like him to just do “volume one” and leave the rest for people to fill in for themselves.

Amazing how even outside the arena of composing song lyrics, his mind still works in that way. How interesting would a walk through a museum be with Dylan? Or a round of golf?

Remember at the beginning of “No Direction Home” where Dylan says something like “I was born a long way from home; I have spent my life just trying to get back.”

Sounds like just what you’re hearing here, Tim. Good ear.

Yeah, Dylan talks specifically about the Odyssey quite a bit on No Direction Home, which is part of the reason why it struck me with the force that it did. And obviously the title, from “Like A Rolling Stone,” shows how acutely Dylan felt that urge, and that sense, even then.

I really, really love that Scorsese documentary — if you haven’t seen it, even if you don’t think of yourself as a Dylan fan, you should.

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