Tales of Ordinary Madness: Talk about Pap Music; There Are Aspects of the Bob Dylan Phenomenon That Annoy Me to an Infinite Degree, and I Think He Was/is a Manipulative and Thieving Git, a Failure as a Human Being, but His Towering Artistic Record Is Awesome

The Birmingham Post (England), November 23, 2005 | Go to article overview

Tales of Ordinary Madness: Talk about Pap Music; There Are Aspects of the Bob Dylan Phenomenon That Annoy Me to an Infinite Degree, and I Think He Was/is a Manipulative and Thieving Git, a Failure as a Human Being, but His Towering Artistic Record Is Awesome


Byline: WITH SID LANGLEY

Iused to think the old adage "One man's meat is another man's poison" was actually a subtle piece of Catholic-baiting, with "poison" being an anglicised version of the French poisson or fish. You know, Friday and all that. Clever stuff on my part, I always thought. I'm wrong, I've discovered. It was originally a Latin tag by the writer Lucretius. I thought he was a Borg. Be that as it may, we all know examples of the reality of the phrase, the words in action, as it were. You like dogs, can't stand cats, she likes cats, can't stand dogs.

There are people who love the work of Elvis Costello, regarding him as some kind of superior singer/songwriter. His work leaves me colder than the proverbial witch's appendage, but I can understand why people admire it. Ditto Picasso. Not a fan of the man or the artist (yes I think those two aspects of his personality are easily identifiable and separable) but I admire his extraordinary achievement and breathtaking skill.

There are aspects of the Bob Dylan phenomenon that annoy me to an infinite degree, and I think he was/is a manipulative and thieving git, a failure as a human being, but his towering artistic record is awesome. To reach the heights of a Dylan or a Picasso you have to be supremely selfish, it seems to me, and that rather works against your standing as a likeable member of the human race. All of which brings me to Daniel O' Donnell, who may, quite possibly not be. A member of the human race, that is. He's a Cliff Richard-lite singing star from Donegal. If you've not yet heard of him or heard him, just give up reading this now. You'll be a better person for it, and I'd hate to feel responsible in any slight way for introducing a fellow sentient being, even a reader of this column, to the opus of St Dan. I'm a pretty perceptive kinda guy, but I simply fail to see any reason on earth why Daniel O' Donnell has a worldwide following of devotees.

His fan base - congregation would be a better word - is religious in its fervour. People make pilgrimages to his home, where, by all accounts, they queue to be ushered into the presence, very like a Papal audience. Of course, he plays the religious card, but so has Dylan at times, and his great mate and mentor Johnny Cash, and various other pop luminaries have worn their faith on their sleeves, sometimes quite sincerely, apparently. …

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