Neighborhood Bully: how not to write a song in praise of something

By Tony Attwood

There is something I really don’t like about Neighbourhood Bully, despite Dylan’s assertions that it is not about Zionism.  Maybe it is not.  Maybe it is just about the state of Israel.  I would always appreciate that one is not the other, but still…

The point is that if you are going to write a song in praise of something it is best either to be romantic, or to evolve a scene of pastel colours, and soft tones.  If you want to be tough, be selective in what you say.  If you get into hard facts it is always going to be difficult if you slip up at any point and say something that is palpably untrue.

In Neighbourhood Bully there’s eleven bouncing rocking strophic verses all fixed on three chords.  It gives you a sense of power and certainty.  You want to say, wow, yeah, let’s go and get them.  Except, except…

Take the opening.   “His enemies say, he’s on their land”.  Yes, when speaking of the state of Israel, most of the world, and United Nations Resolution 242, say that the land Israel took during the six days war should be returned to the countries from which it took the land.  Long term occupation is not acceptable. 

So Dylan’s got it right there.  People do say Israel is on their neighbours’ land.  Equally most people with a semblance of a balanced view of the world acknowledge that the Six Days War was not started by Israel, and that Israel showed extraordinary military ability by knocking out all their neighbours so quickly.

But where does that get us?   Simply to an argument that says that Israel has made matters worse for itself by continuing the occupation, and that had it worked out a settlement within the first year, it would not still be fighting.  Can’t prove it of course, but it is an argument.

What has all this got to do with “Neighborhood Bully”?  Simply that by invoking a line such as “on their land” in the second out of 55 lines of a song, Dylan invites us to get involved in such debate.  The song continues by telling us how badly off Israel is, how everyone is against Israel, and then we have….

Verse six, which opens with the classic, “He got no allies to really speak of,” and we think simply of the United States of America, and are reminded of the fact that 40% of Israel’s budget is spent on defence – an insane level of expenditure which can only be maintained by the financial contribution of the USA.

This is not to attempt in a few lines to have a serious debate about Israel, but to think about the song.  If Dylan really wants to make a statement about Israel, then putting that line in is catastrophic.  For the neutral listener it destroys the song in one simple line – and we still have five and a half verses to go.

Back on the political front, in writing this I am of course aware that the US also gives extraordinary levels of aid to Egypt, following the Camp David Accord, and I’m aware of the corruption and insanity of the many Arab regimes – indeed I have lived part of my life in one of the Arab protagonists against Israel, which at least gives me a little insight.

But I repeat this is not the main thrust of my problem with this song.  It is the point I made at the start.  If you are going to do a political song, you don’t have to be balanced (no such song ever is), and your facts don’t have to be inclusive (ditto).   But you have to avoid lines which are just so incredibly wrong that they bring the whole song down and make those who don’t believe dismiss what you have said.

Think of “Times they are a changing”.  It brings us all together, and joins everyone.   “Neighbourhood Bully” just pushes people further apart.

Footnote: following a range of comments about matters concerning Israel, I have decided to stop publishing comments on matters relating to Israel.  I’ve published a fair number, and have only rejected the ones that are highly abusive towards myself.  But I don’t think any of the points change anyone’s mind or expand the debate any further, and so I think that’s enough.

What is on the site

1: Over 400 reviews of Dylan songs.  There is an index to these in alphabetical order below on this page, and an index to the songs in the order they were written in the Chronology Pages.

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6: You might also like: A classification of Bob Dylan’s songs and partial Index to Dylan’s Best Opening Lines

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  1. > Take the opening. “His enemies say, he’s on their land”. Yes, when speaking of the state > of Israel, most of the world, and United Nations Resolution 242, say that the land Israel took > during the six days war should be returned to the countries from which it took the land. >>Long term occupation is not acceptable

    The problem is that those countries (Jordan and Egypt) doesn’t want that land back, and especially the Palestinians.
    It was Jewish land, and by several empires till 1948, when it was given to Jordan. It was never Palestians land and there were never a Palestinian nation.

    >Verse six, which opens with the classic, “He got no allies to really speak of,” and we think >simply of the United States of America, and are reminded of the fact that 40% of Israel’s
    > budget is spent on defence – an insane level of expenditure which can only be maintained by > the financial contribution of the USA.

    The US didn’t help Israel in its first decades. Secondly, the US support today is only 2.25 billion $. That is a quarter of Israel Defense budget, which is today 9% (3 times more than the US) of the state budget.

  2. “only 2.25 billion $”?

    Even if that figure is accurate (it doesn’t include the price of all the free weapons that are given by the U.S. as “aid”) it’s still $6 million of U.S. taxpayers’ money – PER DAY – given to a brutal occupying regime.

    “He got no allies to really speak of” is an offensive lie, and shows Dylan to be either stupid, wilfully ignorant, or deliberately manipulative. None of those is any good.

  3. Wow I thought always neighbourhood bully was about Palestine and Israel as the aggressor , calling Palestine the neighbourhood bully. But if Dylan says it’s not about israel or Palestine then I believe him.

  4. 1) “His enemies say, he’s on their land”. – When Dylan wrote the song the PLO (and later Hamas) was on record that ALL of modern Israel (not just the Gaza strip and West Bank) was rightfully Palestinian and Israel as a country should be destroyed. No matter what side you’re on, Dylan was correct.
    2) “He got no allies to really speak of” – saying Israel had no allies would be a lie, but Dylan couches it with “to really speak of” so again, you may disagree, but he’s just sharing his opinion. That’s his right as the songwriter.
    3) People said there was “something distasteful” about Dylan going electric, abandoning the protest songs in the late 60s, and releasing “Saved.” Here’s an electric protest song with religious undertones in the 80’s! I’ll take “Neighborhood Bully” over anything on “knocked out loaded” or “Down in the Groove” anyday.

  5. The arabs could build another Dubai and house all their plo haamas buddies but they dont because of their deep beddoin roots and iran

    israel (tries) and run a stable economy

    you cant for war and try and have a stable economy

    israels biggest mistake is having fallen into the usa socialist trap of worrying about the pr game

  6. Actually if you look at the song Hurricane about Hurricane Carter (wrongfully accused of murder), that song is one sided- and I would not want that song to be PC either.

  7. Yes, most of the world would say that Israel is “on their [arab] land” – that’s really the problem, actually. Most of the world seem to like someone else to do their thinking, and especially their research for them, and tell them what to think. My first question to anyone who starts trying to tell me that Israel should give the eastern part of their country to arab people is: “Can you please give me your summary of the middle east history since 1914?” Last time I asked I was told the history is irrelevant.
    This means that the Balfour Declaration, the Sykes/Picot treaty, the division of Palestine 75 -25 between arabs and jews in 1922, by Churchill as an attempt to honour Britain’s promise to the arabs and the jews during WW1 that in return for help in defeating the Turks, they would each inherit part of the Ottoman Empire. Specifically the arabs – Syria, and the jews – Palestine. At the time, Palestine extended east, right to Iraq.
    People such as Dr. Weismann, Prince Feisal, TE Lawrence were involved. In fact, TE Lawrence helped ther arabs fight for Britain against Turkey because he believed they would get Syria. When he learned of the betrayal he left, ashamed of himself and the allies.
    In 1948, for 8 months the sovereign state of Israel reached from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. This newly born state was attacked the day after it became a country by arab nations all around. But for 8 months all of that land was recognised as Israel. In 1949 the war was ended, and Jordan occupied an area of eastern Israel. Over the next few years it was – deceitfully to my mind – actually renamed “the west bank” to separate it from Israel. In 1967 Jordan’s occupation was ended as Israel fought off another united arab attack bent on simply eradicating the land of Israel.
    Since that moment, people who are either: ignorant of history; don’t like Israel; easily led; call eastern Israel “the west bank” …which has, as if according to some weird plan morphed into the even more illusory “Palestinian territories”; and is now attempting to descend on the area of eastern Israel as the “Palestinian State”. The power of the media.
    Given that Israel has constantly been under attack by arab countries since it came into existence in 1948, I think it is understandable that they would not really want to give up any of their very small proportion of land, eventually rightfully given to them, as agreed, as the arabs were given theirs, when it would mean Israel inviting their proven enemy to live on a sizeable portion of their own land, and become yet another arab nation chafing at the bit to wipe them out and drive them into the sea…their oft repeated desire.
    In fact, if Israel were to agree to this ridiculous pressure from people in any of those ill informed camps named above, they would have reduced the distance that the arabs had to drive them into the sea to…Ten Miles. Wow, what a lovely suggestion. Clever, good thinking, so, we’ll go with that then.
    Now, I like Bob, I think he is amazingly intelligent, honest, insightful, and a great musician, and you know, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he actually did bother to do his research before he wrote this song.
    But don’t take my word for it. Check it all out yourself, And listen to it again. (It’s on Infidels.)
    But that’s my take on Bob’s song. My actual take on the issue is simply this: Even if you discount the history, there are five arab nations in the area: taken from the top: Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt with a total land area of – 3,428,000 sq kilometres. Right? Please at least check the figures, beacuse I want this to be right; but that is definitely close. Now, Israel the wonderful curators of the Holy Land, has an area 21,000 square kilometres. Is that too much for jewish people, with all their history in the area?
    And the arab people want Eastern Israel as well? mmmmmmmmmmm. That in itself is suspect, nay, even a bit distasteful I’d say. Peace.

  8. Whats really sad is that the song is absolutely true. And even sadder is that you do not seem to understand that. The fact that Dylan obviously feels uncomfortable even talking about the song says volumes about how intolerant the Israel and Jew haters are. No doubt if he believed that dialogue was even possible with such people – he probably would bother talking about the intended meaning in the song.

    Btw I have very little regard for your arguments. They seem typical of those who embrace lefty British bigoted views of Jews generally – using Israel to vent their dislike. And yes I know you happen to like Bob Dylan (so I guess you must just love Jews in general- and yes I am being ironic here)….

  9. Israel is the historic homeland of the Jewish people. The Zionists never made any secret of their intention to create a Jewish homeland and that the Arab citizens of same would be equals.From the first this was violently rejected by the Arabs.Their solution was to declare the the Jews should be driven out completely from Palestine and they have not not varied from this since.
    What then does Israel owe to those who want to exterminate them? Nothing. They have tried to destroy Israel over and over and each time they lose more and more. Then they complain that they should be given back what they lost. Morality? It is immoral to give someone who is trying to destroy you back what they lost in the attempt to do so in the same way that suicide is immoral.
    The entire Arab world doesn’t recognize Israel’s right to exist and we are immoral for holding onto the West Bank?
    But the real problem is religious. Both the Muslim and Christian world are the negation of Judaism.A nascent Israel is perceived as their negation. In addition the real religion of today’s world is equality and the idea of a Chosen People outrages both the religious and the secular atheist saints of the left. So they claim that Israel is apartheid and racist. Meanwhile they unconsciously know that all their morality comes from the Jews. Dylan was right.The neighborhood bully is standing on the hill running out the clock. It’s the end of days and he’s still here unbowed by the world that wishes he didn’t exist.

  10. Resolution 242 did not call for withdrawal from “all territories” but from “territories”, a wording deliberately chosen to mean “some but not necessarily all”. Israel withdrew from the great bulk of the territories, measured by area, a long time ago.

  11. To be clear, this is what the UN web site says about resolution 242.

    Emphasizing the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and the need to work for a just and lasting peace in which every State in the area can live in security,

    Emphasizing further that all Member States in their acceptance of the Charter of the United Nations have undertaken a commitment to act in accordance with Article 2 of the Charter,

    1. Affirms that the fulfilment of Charter principles requires the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East which should include the application of both the following principles:

    (i) Withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict;

  12. This is perhaps the only Dylan song I hate. It’s horribly Zionist, heavy handed and propagates all the old Zionist “underdog” myths.

    Also, many documents now contest the notion that the Six Day War was defensible as pre-emptive strike on Israel’s part; Egypt had no intention of attacking.

  13. My respect for Dylan fell with this song. I always thought of him as a liberal protest singer with a strong sense of right and wrong. This song screws all that.
    With this I can never hear his songs in the same way again, knowing that a bigot was behind them.

    Maybe he was disillusioned then – now that Israel’s guilt is obvious to even Americans watching TV channels run by Israel-backed magnates, I really hope his views have changed to resemble those of Roger Waters, another liberal protest musician.

  14. I believe it to be truth that the real cause of the middle east turmoil is not be Israel is believed to be ‘on their land.’ Instead, it is because the arab people are on Israel’s land.

    I love the song, Neighborhood Bully. Bob’s people are outnumbered by about 20,000 to 1 and yet are considered to be the neighborhood bully? The problem with common sense is that it is very uncommon.

    Let those with ears hear.

  15. This is why I hate Dylan fans. They praise him for one thing, thinking he’s crusading for them and then call him a prophet or a voice of the generation. Yet, when he expresses views that runs counter to their beliefs, they eschew him. They claim that he ‘sold out’ when in reality, he never got a chance to express himself.

    No wonder he hates all his ass kissing fans. You guys see the world in black and white and never grow up.

    Bob Dylan is a complicated individual. To simply assert and project your own views onto him shows how moronic and misunderstood you are regarding him. He has his beliefs and biases, just like anyone else. Unlike his fans, he understands that. And that’s what makes him great. Whereas his fans, a bunch of creepy cult-like worshipers.

  16. This is the first time I felt good about something on the internet in about 20 years of irrational, nonstop hate. I didn’t like Dylan before…now I think he’s awesome!!

  17. Interesting, except I agree, completely with the lyrics.
    The presence of the hebrew people in the ‘land of Israel’ is an historical, archeological, and Biblical fact. The dispute over the land will always be an issue.
    ‘He’s got no allies to really speak of’ could never have been more true as ‘no one sends flesh and blood to fight by his side,’ do they. Our government only supports Israel as they are persuaded by AIPAC not by any Biblical and or moral conviction.
    At the very least one must consider the recent history and ask why the 3,200,000,000 enemies have been unable to remove those pesky 7,000,000 hebrews.
    For those of the ‘household of faith’ must look harder into the Biblical text and consider that the REAL problem is NOT that Israel is ‘on their land’ but rather that the enemies of Israel are on HER LAND.
    Like it or leave it, there is nothing you can do about it.
    It is a great song. Go Bobby!

  18. To Jamal of India who wrote:
    January 22, 2016 at 5:34 pm
    “My respect for Dylan fell with this song. I always thought of him as a liberal protest singer with a strong sense of right and wrong. This song screws all that.”

    Your first error is presuming that a “liberal” is always correct.
    Your second is that Dylan erred on the wrong side.
    Third, he is no bigot.
    Fourth, putting out “TV channels run by Israel-backed magnates” not only is factually wrong but slides into a Judeaophobic frame of reference that most people would recongize as gutter anti-Semitism.
    Fifth, the most “obvious guilt” is that of the Arabs who refuse still to acknowledge any Jewish national identity anywhere in what the world recognized as the historic Jewish homeland.
    Oh, as for Roger Waters, is he stull going out with that Palestinian woman who he stole from her Jewish husband? Is that being too liberal?

  19. Many Americans, having only two political parties, cut the world up into being either liberal/left or the knowers of the truth. Dylan, often presents the perspective of the ‘other”, but is also tangled up in the teachings of the his blue-robed priests of the ‘Old Testament’, he having a Jewish background. Dylan dosen’t want to be nailed down to a cross.
    Abraham when his wife is barren has sex with a slave girl; Ishmael is born, Islam results:”And he will be a wild man ; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethen” (Genesis 16:12).

    God, having no godess, so according to the New Testament, He has sex with a human female, and Jesus is born. Christianity is the result: “But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil; but whosover shall smite thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other also”(Matthew 5: 39)

  20. However you want to parse the line about having”no allies to really speak of”, I think Neighborhood Bully is a great “protest” song.

    Offering up here, if I may, a song I wrote about Israel and its neighbor to the east …

    The Deal

    There is a man who’s after me – he wants to see me dead
    They call him Ayatollah, yes, and this is what he said
    He said I am a cancer that he must eradicate
    You know my name, I’m Israel, the world’s one Jewish State.

    He built the missiles aimed at me in Southern Lebanon
    And Gaza, that’s his handiwork, and the list goes on
    He fuels the civil war that rages up in Syria
    And terror strikes from Europe down to South America.

    The people living in Iran, they tried to have their say
    Elections rigged, their people marched, Neda was blown away*
    But democracies just turned their backs, in Iran’s great time of need
    And the rulers of Iran, they had their green light to proceed

    “We have a deal”, world leaders say, “it’s time to celebrate”
    But those that know their history think ‘nineteen thirty eight’
    My people won’t be sold this time, this time they have their state
    In G-d they trust, and if they must, they will not hesitate.

  21. Dylan in a number of songs questions the ‘turn the other cheek’ philosophy put forth in Matthew above.

    But labelling each and every person who criticizes some Israeli strategy or another as showing ‘antiSemeticism’ (it’s done by some for sure) seems to diminish rather than to strengthen the position presented, does it not?

  22. What a fine song. The problem with these many reviewers is that ‘the truth is an offense.’
    What a marvel is the modern State of Israel. Surrounded my many, many Goliath’s the Bully still survives and thrives which is something no one tries to explain.
    Rock on, Bob, your’e the best.

  23. Your post doesn’t even try to see the Israeli point of view (a rare thing outside of Israel these days). Dylan, as usual, clobbers us over the head with truth…whether or not it is currently popular. I’m a huge fan of Roger Water’s music, but his one sided view on Israel has always been a huge disappointment to me. But unlike Dylan, Waters consistently sells out just to be in line with most of his fans (thus sell more seats and albums etc.). Bless you Bob Dylan. Keep on telling us the truth, whether or not we want to hear it. You, CSN and Neil Young are pretty much the last hold outs of truth tellers from the 60’s. Some of your fans have resisted the PC culture too and never sold out. Those of you reading this with closed minds that refuse to see both sides of this issue…ask yourself this question…what happened to most of the 100,000’s of Jews that used to live in all the other Arabic countries? If they asked for their land and lives back, what sort of answer would they get?

  24. I am really tired of people saying “Israel beat off an Arab attack in 1967” or “Israel didn’t start the Six Day War”. Israel attacked Egypt. Nasser’s most violent act was the bloodless blockade of a single port, a feeble excuse for an invasion. “But Nasser was about to attack Israel, wasn’t he?” No. Nasser said four times that he wasn’t going to attack Israel(Safran, From War to War, pg. 295, Churchill, The Six Day War, pg. 227, Washington Post, May 28, 1967, Christian Science Monitor, May 29, 1967). American intelligence didn’t believe Nasser was going to attack(Ginor and Remez, Foxbats over Dimona, pg. 116-119). Begin, Rabin, and Ezer Weizman all said later that they didn’t believe Nasser was going to attack. Nasser took steps toward a diplomatic solution, proposing the revival of the Mixed Armistice Commission, and offering to send his vice-president to Washington to discuss the situation(New York Times, May 29, June 6, 1967). Israel started the Six Day War.

  25. Neighborhood bully is a light in the darkness as is Israel. Every word of it is true in the same way as the times they are a changing is true. People who hate this song are fools.

  26. And that is the problem Bartleby. To define a person’s intelligence on the basis of whether they like one song or not reduces the whole debate to such a low level. I have spent much of my life studying psychology and I have never seen any research that suggests intelligence is related directly to an emotional response to a work of art.

  27. I just stumbled on your work, thanks for it! To my mind the song’s problematic because Dylan is writing a description almost as much as a justification: messed up childhood, misunderstood adolescence, impossible maturity (Running out the clock/Time standing still). Unpleasant yes. Understandable maybe. Celebratory not. As a Palestinian sympathizer I find the thing thought-provoking and powerful, agreeable though I ultimately disagree. In other words, it’s a kinda pretty great song. It makes me think!

  28. If the masters of war die as Dylan hopes, who will replace the obsolete weapons pf the neighborhood bully?

  29. About the verse “…no allies, to really speak of…what he gets he must pay for, he don’t get it out of love…”
    Note that it is modified by “… nobody sends flesh and blood, to fight by his side…”
    About that, I don’t see any argument.
    Israel is our most reliable ally (With the possible exception of the U.K.) as we are theirs…all accounting squabbles aside.
    About that, I don’t anticipate seeing any argument either.

  30. Thank you for summing up the history & situation. You nailed it.
    I hope many readers see what you’ve written & learn the facts of the situation.

  31. This song for me was the first chink in the wall that brought down my entire ideologically based way of thinking about the world, and led me to look again at the world and re-think from the bottom up.
    It reminds me that intellectual honesty and rigour are required when approaching the world’s conundrums.
    It’s a testament to Bob’s power as an artist, that despite the cliche, Neighborhood Bully did change my life, or at least stopped me from being an intellectually lazy prig, for which I am grateful.

  32. I ordinarily enjoy reading Tony Attwood’s columns. I think in this column, Attwood loses it. He reveals his Achilles heal with his frankly slanted, oversimplified and overgeneralized political views. Tony maybe a great interpreter of Dylan but he is no political or philosopher king. Stick to what you do best. This very complex region with all its nuances are way over your head and time you are willing to invest in it.
    Dylan, for sure is not at his best writing in this song but it doesn’t give Tony the right to change course and talk infantile politics.

  33. Always remember that the song was written in 1981. When it came out, it felt to me like Dylan was supportive of Israel as were most Americans at the time.

    Very different feelings about Israel prevailed in the US than today–less nuanced. No peace treaties other than Egypt, and Egypt was alienated for the accords. Israeli attack on Iraqi nuclear facilities was still fresh in our memory. The Palestinian leadership (PLO) was in Beirut/Tunisia, Palestinian leadership in the territories was a mess, and Palestinian terrorist attacks, some in European airports, made more news while the occupation in West Bank and Gaza Strip grinded on with less bloodshed than we have grown used to today. This was several years pre-Intifada, pre-PA.

  34. Much of this commentary is cut, in line with the policy stated on this site. But the commentary’s end is worth repeating…

    “Tony, You don’t seem to see what is wrong with your picture and worldview. Stick to music.”

    Perhaps one might say: before commenting read what is written including the final paragraph. If you can’t do that, or have done it and deliberately ignored what is written, how can you ever expect to be taken seriously?

  35. Apparently my comments did not get posted. I will take another run at it….

    The rest of the commentary was cut for reasons that I think will become clear in my reply to Allan….

    I think, Allan, if you were as interested in what is written in the article on which you comment, as you are in your own opinion you would have noted the phrase…

    Footnote: following a range of comments about matters concerning Israel, I have decided to stop publishing comments on matters relating to Israel. I’ve published a fair number, and have only rejected the ones that are highly abusive towards myself. But I don’t think any of the points change anyone’s mind or expand the debate any further, and so I think that’s enough.

    Given that you either didn’t notice that, or did notice it and chose to take no notice, it implies that your criticism of my commentary on this song, and indeed throughout the site, is not actually based on any awareness of what I write.

    To think that you can come onto a site that has its own set rules, and then ignore them totally in order to launch a tirade of criticism against the author is bizarre in the extreme. Many others on this site disagree with me completely on many songs, but at least have the courtesy to read what I write before launching into a tirade. Tony Attwood

  36. It is a terrible song. Always was. Grossly simplistic in narrative, and wholly ethno-nationalistic, and partisan, toward complex international issues. The statement about no allies immediately indicates zero gratitude to the USA, who most Israeli’s will admit saved them from near disaster in 1972, by rearming and resupplying the depleted IDF and IAF (100 US F-4 Phantom jets delivered in a few days at height of conflict, some still displaying USAF decals, which was a cause of fatal confusion for numerous Syrian MiG pilots). A further point on topic of Israel’s allies, is worth noting that throughout 1980’s Israel chose to align itself with minority rule South Africa, of the internationally sanctioned Apartheid regime. This was major export market for Israel defense sector, that sold military hardware and para-military police equipment to the regime. It went much further though, with Israeli intelligence and advisers also working with and supplying intelligence data with South African regime. The song further references the early 1980s IAF air-raid, and open act of war, against the then incomplete Iraqi nuclear power station facility, that was a joint Iraq-French project, and a huge French export, technology-transfer, industrial project. Dylan presents this as a preemptive strike necessary to save Israel. In reality, it was an international incident and act of war undertaken to ensure that only Israel had the strategic advantage of any nuclear technology across the whole ME region. These are not really the topics for a simplistic and jingoistic rock song, albeit one rooting for a far flung foriegn state, and reveal Dylan’s shortcomings in such areas.
    The infamous rock critic Lester Bangs had previously, in mid-late 1970’s, critiqued Dylan’s propensity for grossly simplistic myth-making in a specific essay on the song Joey from the album Desire. Bangs went into detail about just who Joey Gallo really was, a nasty piece of work known as Crazy Joe, a known New York mafioso, who had operated in extreme violence and racketeering for decades. He was the sort of gangster that gave odd sweets to the neighborhood kids and odd cash handouts to curry local favor, and try manage down the likelihood of any neighborhood citizens informing on him and his violence or rackets. Dylan chose to romanticize this very violent career criminal – and to manufacture a wholly unambiguous account of him, a portrait of a knock-about guy, and citizen, struck down by violence in his prime! Repeat, this was an NY mobster, from the Colombo crime family, who was a direct and murderous participant in a decades long sequence of dog eat dog, crime-family murders, for criminal syndicate power!
    In short, Dylan, nee Zimmerman, wrote some classics, and equally, some awful duds.

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