The Troubadour of the 60’s is one year short to his diamond jubilee today exactly — May 24, 1941 — 74 years to be a exact. No, he isn’t under 30 anymore, far from it, and with no direction home.
Watch and Observe a Composer in Action
Martin Scorsese’s retrospective documentary on the life and times of Bob Dylan from his childhood to 1966, No Direction Home, serves as a poignant illustration of the fundamental differences in personality. Bob Dylan was, and probably still is, somewhat of a mystery to many people, whereas those who know temperament can understand why Dylan is a mystery to others. Many people naturally assume that Dylan is like themselves because his lyrics connect to them. However, Dylan is more easily understood when one knows his temperament and character type.
In 1963, Joan Baez had difficulty understanding Bob Dylan. She was enamored by Dylan’s poetic lyrics, but was confused by his genius. His lyrics were so poetic and so meaningful to her. But Dylan didn’t seem to care. He was an enigma to her and the rest of her generation. Being the troubadour for the post World War II baby boomers, he seemed to have tapped into the Zeitgeist of his generation. He inspired others by his profound and powerful lyrics like “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna’ fall” or “The times they are a changin'”. On the other hand, he personally didn’t ascribe as much meaning to his lyrics as his admirers. He just liked writing songs, and then enjoyed performing his songs in front of an audience. Baez and the media tried to project their motives and their agendas onto Dylan. He wouldn’t stand for it. They seem to try to put words in his mouth. He would not be pigeonholed or take on the mantle that others tried to assign to him. He saw a lot of naivety and hypocrisy around him. And he didn’t see the point of trying to explain himself — why should he?
The answer my friend is blowin’ in the wind.
What Baez and the rest of activists in the 50’s and 60’s didn’t know, or understand at the time, was that they were attracted to the art of a free-wheelin’ Composer Artisan. Typically, Artisans are not as interested as Idealists in the troubles or the causes of the world. Bob Dylan was not interested in political action; he was much more interested in writing and performing music to have an impact on people. He liked the art, but wasn’t as interested in the “deep meaning” of it. He was a genius in reflecting the times by being very perceptive of his environment. He picked up what was in the “air” at the time, and put it to words and music, sometimes borrowing words or tunes and modifying them to his artistic need, at the moment.
As Dr. David Keirsey has said:
“More than the others Artisans, Composers have a sure grasp of what fits and what doesn’t fit in any and all artistic works, and so when an especially gifted painter, ., song writer, ., poet, ., he or she is likely to be a Composer.”
You don’t need a weather man to know which way the wind blows.
Joan Baez is a Champion Idealist, whereas Bob Dylan is a Composer Artisan. They are fundamentally different. The soulful but serious Baez assumed that since Dylan could write such soulful sounding words and songs — talking about rebelling and protesting against the injustice and the status quo — he was interested in acting upon his words. Baez thought these causes of injustice should be pursued. She assumed that Dylan was just like herself. She was interested changing the system very much like Mahatma Gandhi — an Idealist like herself. Gandhi’s ideas had had an influence on Baez ever since she heard a lecture in her high school on non-violence by Ira Sandperl. Later, she attended Boston College for awhile until she achieved success in singing folk and protest songs at coffee houses in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She was soon involved as an activist. On the other hand, Bob Dylan was not interested changing society despite what he expressed in his songs. Dylan (original name, Robert Zimmerman), originally from the small town of Hibbing, Minnesota, had also abandoned college like Baez. He just wanted to write and perform songs when he headed for New York to soak up the pop culture and folk music of Greenwich Village. Like a sponge, he soaked up all different kinds of music — but he initially imitated the style of Woody Guthrie, a legendary folk song singer and writer. Artisans like Guthrie and Dylan have a natural ability to imitate, and then change and improve on others’ works. Artisans are observant. Bob Dylan was very observant. He could remember a song after hearing it once or twice.
Again, Keirsey explains:
Many of our greatest poets and orators have been Artisans, from Lord Byron to Dylan Thomas to Winston Churchill to Ronald Reagan. Why? Why not the Idealists in the forefront, instead of only a few, along with but a handful of Rationals? It has to be conceded that the Artisans have captured most of the top spots in this domain because of their sensitivity to harmonic coherence, or what sounds good. The Artisans’ ear for sound is incomparable.
|My concern has always been for the people who are victimized, unable to speak for themselves and who need outside help.
|People seldom do what they believe in. They do what is convenient, then repent.|
Bob Dylan was idolized by many young people who heard his lyrics. But Dylan ignored those who idolized him or criticized him. When he started playing with the electric guitar and playing rock-like music, he was accused of “selling out;” he ignored the criticism, he just wanted to write and perform music. He didn’t care about the “purity” of the folk music, or any other kind of music. He didn’t care about causes or money. He followed his own drummer. He had to do his own thing, not to follow others’ opinions of what he should do.
On the other hand, the Artisan can be seen as contradictory in behavior by the other temperaments because:
Social impact is vital for Artisans, even for those who appear to shrug their shoulders and turn away from society. Artisans need to be potent, to be felt as a strong presence, and they want to affect the course of events, if only by defying, shocking, or mocking the establishment. For an Artisan, to be without impact, to make no difference in human affairs, is like being deprived of oxygen.
How does it feel
To be on your own
With no direction home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone?
In the beginning of his popularity, Bob Dylan was interviewed on the radio. When asked where he grew up, he said Gallup, New Mexico. That was not the truth. He had never been to Gallup or New Mexico. Having a natural knack for understanding publicity, Artisans often find it useful or fun to play with the truth. He had forgotten, or at least he wanted to forget where he grew up, the Iron Mountain region of Minnesota. He felt that he had traveled the country by the kind of music he listened to; he had listened to any kind of music he could get his hands on: country music, folk music, blues, gospel, you name it. He felt that he didn’t have a home.
Artisans, of all of the temperaments, are the most likely to answer the call to wander, and they can sever social or family ties more easily than others, even though they can be aware of the distress such behavior causes those close to them.
Other types often find it hard to understand why an Artisan wants to live so impulsively; but to the Artisan, a life of action in the moment, which disregards long term goals, is life at its freest and most intense.
The Artisan’s penchant for action is explained in Please Understand Me II.
The idea of action for itself can best be understood by comparing “practice” with “compulsion.” Practice, first of all, is what we all do to improve our skill in preparation for performance or work. It is not for keeps, not for real, we know it doesn’t count, that it is mere rehearsal. Artisans, however, do not wish to practice, since it is only preparation for action later on. Artisans do not practice; they do. Indeed, the Artisan must do what he feels the urge to do. Sometimes this action can be excessive, going for many hours without pause, such excessive action being mistaken for “discipline” by observers of other temperaments. But this is not discipline; rather, it is action by compulsion, as if the Artisan is caught in its traction, feeling a necessity, as it were, to do his thing. Like the man who climbs a mountain because it’s there, the Artisan is only inarticulately aware of the sovereignty he gives his impulse. He must do whatever his impulse dictates and continue the action as long as the urge compels. When the urge lets up, he no longer “feels like” racing, climbing, or whatever.
Why? Because I just feel like singing.
Looking back as he reflects about his life, Dylan explains himself in his own words: “An artist has to be careful to never really arrive at a place where he thinks he’s at, somewhere. You always have to realize you are constantly in a state of becoming, as long as you can stay in that realm, you will sort of be alright. I can’t self-analyze my own work, and I wasn’t going to cater to the crowd because I knew certain people like it or didn’t like it. I got in the door when nobody was looking. I was in there now, and there was nothing anybody from then on could ever do about it.”
Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who
That it’s namin’.
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’.
– Bob Dylan