Friday, November 19, 2004

Bob Dylan: The most dangerous man in America?

From the Charlotte Observer:

Is the world spinning backwards?

You heard about the Colorado high school students who planned to perform a (very old) Bob Dylan song at their school talent show, didn't you?

The students, who called their band Coalition of the Willing, wanted to do "Masters of War," the great American songwriter's biting antiwar ballad from his album, "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan." The album came out in 1963.

That's 41 years ago.

It was apparently too controversial for some Boulder folks in 2004. So much so, the Secret Service got involved, fearing the kids might be a threat to President Bush.

When some adults and other students heard the band rehearsing "Masters of War," they called a Boulder talk radio show and said the students were singing a song that threatened the safety of the president. Because it is illegal to threaten the president, the Secret Service was called in to investigate the complaints.

Those high school musicians just wanted to speak their minds about political issues using a classic, time-honored protest song. In America, we're supposed to be able to do that. We could in 1963, when the young Dylan wrote and passionately sang these words expressing his hatred of warmongers:

"You might say that I'm young. / You might say I'm unlearned. / But there's one thing I know, / though I'm younger than you, / even Jesus would never forgive what you do ... / And I hope that you die / and your death'll come soon. / I will follow your casket in the pale afternoon. / And I'll watch while you're lowered down to your deathbed. / And I'll stand o'er your grave 'til I'm sure that you're dead."

The students were eventually permitted to sing the song. If we ever let the reverse happen, America will stop being America.

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