Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Bob Dylan, Judaism and Israel 1987

I came across this post which discusses the influence of a Rabbi on Bob Dylan, with a picture there of Bob - aka Shabtai Zisel/Zusha ben Avraham v'Rachel Riva and Reb Shlomo Carlebach meeting.

It recalled to me a piece that was published in a periodical I helped edit, together with Rachel Katsman, entitled Counterpoint. Since the issue of Bob Dylan and his relationship with Jews, Judaism and Israel is always relevant, I figured I'd try to scan the article and present it to a new readership.

Here it is, in parts:-

The author, Tuvia Ariel, has since passed away, after many years of managing a great used bookstore on Agrippas Street in Jerusalem and was known as "one-legged Terry" due to an accident in which he lost a leg.

Linked here.

P.S. And now, with his Nobel Prize for Literature, this post is mentioned here, coming full circle:

Jewish roots

In an article Noble wrote in 1987 for a periodical called Counterpoint, a scanned version of which went online, he wrote that Dylan liked listening to people, explaining that “the reason Bob wanted to get to know me was that I was Jewish and he collects Jews ... His problem with being Jewish himself is that being Jewish is not very American. And Bob Dylan is the most American person I have ever met. Even today, when most of his fans are 40 and over, he represents young America, which is Christian while he is Jewish. And that’s a problem for him and for us.”

“We used to ask him what it was like to be so famous, and he’d say things like ‘when I was young I really wanted it and worked hard for it. But once you get there it’s different, you don’t want it anymore – you’re not the same person who wanted it earlier.’

Since hopefully a good few people will be perusing this, I just want then to know that I saw Bob Dylan come up David Street in Jerusalem's Old City in 1973 after he visited the Western Wall. I just stared as he walked by, transfixed, fool that I was not to say hello.


yitz said...

Thanks for this piece, Winky
And also for the Linky...

[Sorry, just couldn't help that one! :)) ]

YMedad said...

Let me know how many hits you get.

No problem except I spell my name Winkie, like in Yitzie

Hadassa DeYoung said...

Don't forget Dylan's "Neighborhood Bully" song in which Israel is the kid being picked on by all the bullies even though he's innocent.

YMedad said...

Thanks Hadassa

Neighborhood Bully
Well, the neighborhood bully, he's just one man,
His enemies say he's on their land.
They got him outnumbered about a million to one,
He got no place to escape to, no place to run.
He's the neighborhood bully.

The neighborhood bully just lives to survive,
He's criticized and condemned for being alive.
He's not supposed to fight back, he's supposed to have thick skin,
He's supposed to lay down and die when his door is kicked in.
He's the neighborhood bully.

The neighborhood bully been driven out of every land,
He's wandered the earth an exiled man.
Seen his family scattered, his people hounded and torn,
He's always on trial for just being born.
He's the neighborhood bully.

Well, he knocked out a lynch mob, he was criticized,
Old women condemned him, said he should apologize.
Then he destroyed a bomb factory, nobody was glad.
The bombs were meant for him.
He was supposed to feel bad.
He's the neighborhood bully.

Well, the chances are against it and the odds are slim
That he'll live by the rules that the world makes for him,
'Cause there's a noose at his neck and a gun at his back
And a license to kill him is given out to every maniac.
He's the neighborhood bully.

He got no allies to really speak of.
What he gets he must pay for, he don't get it out of love.
He buys obsolete weapons and he won't be denied
But no one sends flesh and blood to fight by his side.
He's the neighborhood bully.

Well, he's surrounded by pacifists who all want peace,
They pray for it nightly that the bloodshed must cease.
Now, they wouldn't hurt a fly.
To hurt one they would weep.
They lay and they wait for this bully to fall asleep.
He's the neighborhood bully.

Every empire that's enslaved him is gone,
Egypt and Rome, even the great Babylon.
He's made a garden of paradise in the desert sand,
In bed with nobody, under no one's command.
He's the neighborhood bully.

Now his holiest books have been trampled upon,
No contract he signed was worth what it was written on.
He took the crumbs of the world and he turned it into wealth,
Took sickness and disease and he turned it into health.
He's the neighborhood bully.

What's anybody indebted to him for?
Nothin', they say.
He just likes to cause war.
Pride and prejudice and superstition indeed,
They wait for this bully like a dog waits to feed.
He's the neighborhood bully.

What has he done to wear so many scars?
Does he change the course of rivers?
Does he pollute the moon and stars?
Neighborhood bully, standing on the hill,
Running out the clock, time standing still,
Neighborhood bully.

Hadassa DeYoung said...

In the spirit of Esther I should give credit to my husband, Uri. He's the one who told me about the song.

Anonymous said...

Glad I found your blog (through a link from RightWingBob.com). I've bookmarked you site and plan to return to peruse more of your posts.

I found Bob during my senior year in high school- right around the Desire album - and his songs did the same thing for me as they did/do for legions of others. (I was not observant back then, but today I am.)

Thanks for posting this article- I've never read anything from a religious Israeli who happened to be a friend of Bob Dylan!

If you, or anyone fortunate to visit your site, would like to hear some of my songs, please visit my site Kernersongs.com.


Nero said...

Thanks for the scanned article, I'm writing an essay about Dylan's attitude toward Judaism. This piece is helpful

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing this article. I was a friend of one-legged Tuvia, ז'ל. We attended together, (along with my wife, my Bobrade-in-arms Jon and his wife), Bob's '93 concert in a theatre in Tel Aviv, and sat in the front row, at Tuvia's insistence, of course. Just for the record, I also attended every other Bob appearance in Israel. Happy birthday Bob, and rest in peace Tuvia.