Monday, June 26, 2006

too cool to be part of that

Greil Marcus is in conversation with Don DeLillo at The Believer. The brief excerpt features thoughts on Bob Dylan.

DON DeLILLO: See, the genius of rock music is that it matched the cultural hysteria around it. Not only Dylan, but that kind of scorching electric howl of Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison—and these happen to be three people who died early and tragically—as if to provide an answer, as if to present a counterpart to what was happening around them in the streets, in the riots, in the assassinations, in the war in Vietnam, in the civil rights struggle. Rock was the art form that could match that. Not that these artists all made explicit reference to the immediate culture around them. But the music itself was a perfect counterpart to what was happening in our culture—as, for example, jazz was not. I’m a lifelong jazz fan—but jazz was just too cool to be part of that. It had to be rock. Rock just came out of it. The great thing about Dylan is that he is such an American story and such an American artist. He’s an American in a more important way than the Beatles or the Stones are British. He is so identifiably American—and this comes across very well in [Martin Scorsese’s film No Direction Home], and I think it’s one of the most important things about the movie.