American Writers, Supplement XVIII by Jay Parini

By Jay Parini

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Baez was leading Dylan into the frenzy of his new life as a celebrity, yet her home in Carmel, California, responsibilities they required. From his first interview with Shelton he had begun developing the system of feints and falsehoods designed to frustrate the media in its efforts to classify him within a particular role or genre, and what began as simple evasion accelerated toward a full-blown mutual antagonism between Dylan and the mainstream press. A cover story in Newsweek on November 4, 1963, confirmed Dylan’s distrust of the media and left him warier than ever of the consequences of his own fame.

One might also notice the inscription (as with compass hands upon a map) of a circle from one national landmark to another, with the individual at its radial center. The singer remains You lose yourself, you reappear You suddenly find you got nothing to fear Alone you stand with nobody near When a trembling distant voice, unclear Startles your sleeping ears to hear That somebody thinks they really found you. (Lyrics: 1962–2001, p. 157) That illusion, the illusion of finding someone else in the midst—which is to say the mist—of one’s isolation, suddenly makes even the act of plunging from the stepping-stones into the flood in pursuit of a calling voice seem futile, foolish.

Meanwhile a romance with Suze Rotolo was proving a watershed for his songwriting, not only in such characteristically arm’s-length love songs as “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” and “Down the Highway” but also in an initially wholehearted embrace of Suze’s activism and social consciousness. Dylan had previously shown little interest in politics, but under the tutelage of Suze and her sister Carla, as well as such Village folk personalities as Dave Van Ronk, he began to learn and write about an array of social issues.

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