Bob Dylan on the blues // Barth on Mozart

July 22, 2011

My second post in two days — I’m on a roll!

According to Mr. Dylan, in the liner notes to The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan,

What made the real blues singers so great is that they were able to state all the problems they had; but at the same time, they were standing outside them and could look at them. And in that way, they had them beat. What’s depressing today is that many young singers are trying to get inside the blues, forgetting that those older singers used them to get outside their troubles.

This may be something of a stretch, but as I read that I thought this is similar to what Barth says about Mozart. Mozart’s music is a participation in the ordering of creation from chaos, standing over the darkness in triumph. The blues artists were likewise conquering their problems (“had them beat”) by creating order out of the chaos. Interestingly, this isn’t a naive or idealist illusion of order (for either Mozart or the blues singers) but an order found right there in the material of creation.

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