July 22, 2005 · Cass Sunstein
Here’s my little Bob Dylan story: I took my 15 year old daughter to a Dylan concert a short while ago, and it was wonderful throughout, but the best part was the encore, when he sang Like A Rolling Stone. In the original version, it’s an angry, mean, sneering, contemptuous, and hateful song (great too, of course). Dylan himself described the song with the words “hate” and “revenge.” Thus the chorus:
How does it feel
To be on your own
With no direction home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone?
In the concert the other night, the song had no hate, and there was no sense of revenge. As it was performed, it was happy, joyful, exuberant, inclusive — the chorus above all. The audience got it, almost immediately, and so the song turned out to be a celebration — more or less, a celebration of freedom and human equality. In short, the performance turned the song inside out.
Thanks much to Larry for inviting me to post, and thanks much to you all for the terrific comments and the helpful and generous emails. I’ve learned a lot.