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there, i explained it

Hey there, just want to clear up a bit of confusion. If you subscribe to this blog, you received an email this morning containing an exclusive chapter of an anthology book I'm editing called THERE, I SAID IT: Bob Dylan Is Overrated - and a few other carefully considered objections to the greatest musicians of all time.

I recently blogged about this book's tortuous but triumphant journey to a bookshelf/device near you. In short, THERE, I SAID IT is an anthology of short funny essays, written by a few wonderfully talented friends of mine, about That Allegedly Great Artist That You Just Don't Get. One essay is about the Beatles, another about U2, and so on. The book will be published on October 17th. In my blog post, I mentioned that subscribers would soon be receiving an exclusive excerpt from the book.

But! Given the scattergun nature of social media communication, not all of you subscribers/readers SAW that blog post. Many of you subscribed to this blog because of some earlier post, having nothing to do with this book. Therefore, you folk were somewhat confused when a random email about Tom Waits, written by another author, arrived in your inbox this morning. Brilliant though that essay might have been, a few of you politely emailed me for an explanation.

Let this post then be that explanation. Here's my introduction to the book, below. After reading it, I beg you to reconsider that random Tom Waits essay in your inbox, written by the brilliant Amy Wilson, its context now gloriously restored...


Bob Dylan Is Overrated

and a few other carefully considered objections to the greatest musicians of all time

Introduction by Joshua Shelov

This is not a hate book. Lord knows there’s enough hate floating around out there, souring up the internet, sludging up CNN.

This book is a confession. Or, a series of confessions, as it were. My fellow writers and I come from all walks of life. But we all write from a place of hope, fueled not by a desire to diminish others, but by a yearning to connect with others.

With this book, we are reaching out in what feels like a pummeling darkness of other people’s certainty, seeking someone out there, anyone, who shares our secret confusion. Our subjects are many. But our message is the same. And that message is this:

Bob Dylan is terrible, and if you like him, you are also terrible.

OK. What happened there is that a little hate leaked out by accident. I told a little joke. OK? That’s all. I apologize.

This tends to happen to me when I get going about Bob Dylan, or worse yet, his acolytes, somewhere in Brooklyn, no doubt, chests puffed out beneath their beards, breath befouled by the microbrew du jour, bloviating without a hint of equivocation about Dylan’s unquestioned spot on music’s Mount Rushmore, alongside Coltrane, Elvis, and The Beatles.

I have only one objection to this notion. And that is this:

The Beatles sang like God’s own children and their music united the world. Whereas Bob Dylan – stay with me here, because this is scientifically provable – sings like Daniel Day-Lewis in My Left Foot being pulled violently from his wheelchair and drowned in a sink.

See, there I go again.

Let me try once more. Let me breathe deep, and attempt to capture the true, deeper, benevolent spirit of this book. This book was born on Facebook, after all, a much smiley-facier corner of the interwebs than Twitter. On March 18th, 2014, I posted “Who is the greatest, most legendary artist that you just don’t get? The most acclaimed, profound genius who just leaves you cold? Mine’s Bob Dylan. Who’s yours?”

Kaboom. Within a few hours, 275 friends had contributed their own blasphemous confessions. Here were Beatle-phobes, Zep-sinkers, and Stones-throwers. Turns out, anyone who is anyone in the field of music has someone out there – whole tribes of someones – who cannot for the life of them figure out what the fuss is all about.

And that’s really what this book is about. It’s not about Bob Dylan, and how his voice can sadden the dead. No. It’s about you finding your secret tribe.

Did you even know you had a secret tribe? Well, guess what. You do. Your secret tribe is the group of people who just skimmed through the same table of contents you just skimmed through, and said, “YES. I ALWAYS KNEW Tom Waits wasn’t actually a recording artist, but in fact an elaborate practical joke.”

Guess what. You’re right. The proof is right here. It says so, right here in these pages. The emperor is, in fact, buck naked.

So: who’s your blind spot? Who’s the star who hangs in your sky, but stubbornly refuses to shine? Who’s that singer who can’t POSSIBLY be a legend, but who somehow, impossibly, is?

See? This isn’t hate. This is community.

You’re not alone.

Unless you like Bob Dylan.

In which case you are much, much worse than alone.

You’re deaf.

[If you'd like future chapters and posts emailed to you directly, go ahead and subscribe in the form below.]

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