Bob Dylan's 911th Dream, Jonah Lehrer's Error and the Forthcoming Release of 'Tempest'
Is the legendary musician's new album creating controversy before it's even out or is its 9/11 street date just a tempest in a teapot? THR digs into Dylanology.
Much has been written about Jonah Lehrer’s reckless decision to fudge/invent quotes citing one of the most highly scrutinized artists of the 20th and 21st centuries -- Bob Dylan. Forced to relinquish his job at the New Yorker and have his book Imagine: How Creativity Works pulled from the marketplace in all of its forms, Lehrer was held to an exacting standard commensurate to his status and role as a high-profile journalist.
A byproduct of this unfortunate event is that one cannot talk about the Lehrer fiasco without also talking about Bob Dylan. It’s ironically unavoidable -- or unavoidably ironic -- and especially inevitable for Dylan fanatics, of which there are many. My own discussions about Mr. L and Mr. D have somehow led to the fact that the new Bob Dylan album Tempest will be officially released Sept. 11, 2012, a decision that would be plenty interesting on its own but made all the more intriguing by virtue of the fact that eleven years ago Bob Dylan’s “Love And Theft” was released on the same date in 2001, forever known simply as 9/11. The day the towers came down. I was in New York City on that particular 9/11, preparing for the new music festival CMJ Music Marathon later that week.
It sounds strange now, but like many other people I was looking forward to 9/11, intending go down to Tower Records (another tower gone) to get the new Dylan disc. Nobody could have anticipated the horrible (and many heroic) events of that day, and the relevance of Dylan’s album coming out on that same exact date could only be considered in hindsight. Yes, with frighteningly apt songs like “High Water (for Charley Patton),” “Love And Theft” provided plenty of fodder for apocalyptic conjecture. And now… here comes Tempest. The 9/11 street date remains firm, and it’s important to note how record releases are traditionally (and still) set on Tuesdays. That’s how I’ll always remember that 9/11/01 was a Tuesday, the ubiquitous Dylan connection.
So, what significance might we place on Bob’s new record being released this 9/11? Since it’s happened before I’m going to go out on a limb and surmise it isn’t a coincidence. But if it isn’t an accident, is it not then intentional? And if it is intentional, then what message is being conveyed? Or received, or conceived? Word has it the new disc contains an epic song about the Titanic and another tune is devoted to the memory of John Lennon. Does that help?
Despite being a published fabulist that has conjured many a fictional scenario I’ll have to say I don’t know. Except that the gesture will be an acknowledgement of a sad and serious (and 11th) anniversary, even if it wasn’t originally intended to be, cosmic significance notwithstanding.
To put it another way, something is happening here but you don’t know what it is. Do you? Yet take solace, as soon there will be a new Bob Dylan album to help us all through these modern times. And, we can have all sorts of fun venturing intent and making connections without putting words in anyone else’s mouth.
Now, that’s how creativity works. Just imagine.
P.S. A spokesperson at Columbia Records, Dylan's label, tells The Hollywood Reporter that "there are many logistical factors that go into determining a release date for a record, and the September 11th release date for Bob Dylan's forthcoming album is completely coincidental and unrelated to the tragic events associated with that date."
P.P.S. I checked to see what the 11th song on Bob Dylan’s 11th album is. The answer was “Three Angels” from the album New Morning. Let the games begin.