Ahead of the Nobel banquet on Saturday 10th December, in which Bob Dylan will be awarded the Nobel prize for literature, why not read Angela Carter’s 1966 review of the singer on tour. Carter’s review, first published in the London Magazine, now appears alongside five other female artists’ impressions of Dylan, including film-maker Carol Morley and singer Vashti Bunyan, in a piece for The Observer published back in October of this year (and now on The Guardian online).
Carter’s review came at a point when Dylan’s style was changing, and in ways that many audiences were sceptical and hostile of at first. As Carter notes, at a concert in Cardiff, Dylan began with his traditional folk routine (acoustic guitar, mouth organ), which the audience greeted with “relieved recognition and a round of applause”. However, for the second half of the gig, Dylan came back on stage as an “all-electronic, all existential rock’n’roll singer”. For some, this might seem a betrayal of his former role as “a blue-denim Messiah of a Brotherhood future”, but Carter thinks otherwise. With her typical flair for strange metaphor and humour, Carter suggests that:
“This Dylan is clanging and vulgar, neon and plastic and, at the same time, blackly, bleakly romantic. And exhilarating, akin to reading The Dunciad or a strip cartoon version of Wuthering Heights while riding a roller coaster.”