It struck me last night that there are recurring elements of violence in modern Bob Dylan music videos. Videos for Beyond Here Lies Nothing, It Must Be Santa, Duquesne Whistle and most recently The Night We Called It A Day, all have pretty rough bust ups.
Beyond Here Lies Nothing shows some pretty disturbing domestic violence, Duquesne Whistle follows sees an obsessed lover get a beating from gangsters, while It Must Be Santa depicts a merry party that descends into a fight. The video for The Night We Called It A Day from Shadows In The Night shows Dylan shooting a pretty blonde dancer, then making a getaway from the cops.
If you look at some more recent songs there’s also some pretty gruesome scenes. One listen to Tempest and you’ll see. ‘I’ve got dogs that’ll tear you limb from limb,’ Dylan croaks menacingly in Pay In Blood.
Getting back to the music videos, it makes me wonder how much input Dylan has in directing them. They’re on some remix type videos on Dylan’s YouTube that VEVO that seem to have been churned out by his or his label’s creative team.
But surely he would have a big say in major videos, such as Duquesne Whistle.
So what it with his apparent pre-occupation with violence. Well, it’s known that Dylan has always been a big boxing fan – he himself used to spar to keep fit and visited Manny Pacquiao at a gym in LA.
And in book Down The Highway: The Life Of Bob Dylan By Howard Sounes, it’s revealed that Dylan kept a rifle that he referred to as ‘the great equalizer’ in the hallway at his former home in Woodstock. The same book also talks about Bob’s ambivalence to the Vietnam war, and to some degree his support of an artist who was in favour of the war.
So what can we glean from all this?
Mainly that the images from the 1960s still emblazoned in the general modern day perception of him Dylan as a hippy-dippy peace-loving folk singer that are pretty far from the mark.
He seems to have developed a taste for scenes of violence in recent years. Can we explain that? No. Only he could…. and there’s no way he’s discussing with anybody soon.