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.

  • http://fastspanish4fun.com Chesty

    tons of money over lots of years tends to take the anger right out of you.

    Visit North Myrtle Beach

  • http://chocolate-rex.blogspot.com Terry Jones

    At age 20, you’re still going through puberty. I still remember why I was so pissed off back then. I’m just not so worked up about it anymore.

  • three blind mice

    some of the best live performances come from when an artist covers his own material and mashes it up with a completely different take.

    professor sunstein’s log-off tells us that there is value in trying to look at your own views from another perspective.

    as dylan said in another song, the answer is blowing in the wind, but not necessarily coming from the wind blowing at your back.

    thanks professor for an interesting week on the lessig blog.

  • frank threekings

    Bob Dylan is an artist for the ages. No other popular culture figure of the last century even comes close. This is a towering figure on the landscape of American literature who continues to be as powerful a force as he was when he first asked us “How many roads must a man walk down?” Do you think he’s kidding when he sings, “I’m preachin’ the word of God, I’m puttin’out your eyes.” Listen to the songs people. That’s where you will find all the truth you need to know.

  • http://yogaforcynics.blogspot.com YogaforCynics

    It’s become his standard encore, preceded by All Along the Watchtower in recent years…not that I’m complaining. Your daughter’s a lucky girl.

    Of course the angriest version of all is the legendary “Judas” one in the “Royal Albert Hall” concert (which, though it wasn’t actually at the Royal Albert Hall, is now availbable as part of the Bootleg Series).

  • http://www.juicioaloshumanos.com/ site

    Bob Dylan is an artist for the ages. No other popular culture figure of the last century even comes close.