So long as he rides the wave of American music
as it rises in the Delta, in the Piedmont, in the Panhandle,
So long as he raises the questions that bubble beneath
the surface wherever shell-shocked citizens collect,
Bob Dylan makes sense, Bob Dylan makes people sit up
and take notice, Bob Dylan makes good songs.
When he discovers red stripes in the American flag*
and sets out to alert his beleaguered sisters and brothers
That unseen actors wreak havoc, Bossman says no,
that song must go, but you can stay Bob Dylan, you can stay
So long as you play in the space set aside for Minstrels,
for Jesters, for Beatles, and for the Song and Dance man.
Sense, not dollars, fell away from Dylan songs;
Principle fades to Black, as Prize arrives in a red Cadillac.
*CBS revoked its invitation for Bob Dylan to perform on the Ed Sullivan Show in May, 1963, because the song he wanted to play exposes the vicious and stupid John Birch Society, which is an early iteration of the Tea Party. An illustration of the adage, “He who pays the piper, calls the tune.”
Ever the Imp, Bob Dylan won’t say whether he copped the Welsh poet’s name, but we’ll cop to repurposing this Dylan Thomas poem title: A Refusal to Mourn the Death, by Fire, of a Child in London