3 December 2003
7) Bobdylan.com store. Featured items: “Self-Portrait Throw Blanket,” “Masked & Anonymous Tee,” “Johnny Rock ‘I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight’ Corset.”
5 May 2004
5-7) Leslie Bennetts: “Not Across My Daughter’s Big Brass Bed You Don’t, Bob” (Los Angeles Times, April 16); Mel Gibson, producer: The Passion of the Christ—Songs Inspired by (Universal South); Mirah with the Black Cat Orchestra: “Dear Landlord,” from To All We Stretch the Open Arm (YoYo). Bob Dylan Sellout Alert! Bennetts, who made her name attacking Hillary Clinton in the pages of Vanity Fair, again raises the flag of moral outrage. This time it’s because of the way “an artist who once had a profound effect on American culture” can now be found in a Victoria’s Secret commercial. There he is in the city of gondolas and Titian; as his poisoned “Love Sick” plays, he squints at a woman in bra, panties, and angel’s wings, thus giving a whole new meaning to “See Venice and die.” But what about “Not Dark Yet”—like “Love Sick” from the wasteland of Dylan’s 1997 Time Out of Mind—appearing on a collection of mostly old recordings that Mel Gibson has put to work celebrating his very own movie to the point of claiming that he himself is somehow responsible for their creation? Bennetts thinks an underwear commercial is pedophilia, Gibson thinks a song following a man down a dead road is about Jesus, and they may be right—but not as right as the one-time riot grrrl chanteuse Mirah Yom Tov Zeitlyn, who, like so many before her, understands that a profound Bob Dylan song can, in other hands, sound like anybody’s common sense.
4) Peter Carey: Theft (Knopf). “We had been born walled out from art, had never guessed it might exist,” says an Australian painter in Carey’s new novel, “and then we saw what had been kept from us.” The resentment is patent, but still it’s a shock when fragments of pop songs—art the man wasn’t born walled off from—explode in his mouth as he rails against a 16th century art critic: “You went to the finest schools all right but you are nothing more than a gossip and a suck-up to Cosimo de’ Medici. I was a butcher and I came in through the bathroom window.”