« Pippa, compartmentalizing & the left | Main | The investment slump »

May 24, 2011


Tom Addison

Great post (I'm not the biggest Bob Dylan fan either), but I suppose you could also consider the fact that nowadays footballers are public enemy number one. People love misinterpreting stories about footballers if it makes them out to be scum. I think people may be using the Giggs story to say, "You see, even the supposed sensible ones are shagging around!"


I'm not a huge fan of either but there's a huge and glaring difference between the two in that footballing prowess is measured in goals and concrete achjievements whilst musical taste is entirely subjective and ideas of value in this field formed through complex cultural/social processes. If this were not true, the whole field of musical endeavour would become little more than a talent contest....and even it it were who would be judging it? by what standards?

Also I'm not sure how Giggs' reputation as a footballer is meant to have been scarred by his failings as a family man.


By the way, did you hear Wayne Rooney's agents told him he should take out a super-injunction? He refused. Told them he was scared of needles.

Ken Houghton

The "anthems"--exception: "Chimes of Freedom"--are boring.

Where you get Dylan at his Best is the breakup songs, such as "Boots of Spanish Leather," "Positively Fourth Street," or "When the Night Comes Falling from the Sky." Those and the songs rooted in traditional folk (the title track from JWH, "Joey," "Lenny Bruce") are the actual expansions by (as Michael Gray noted) a Song and Dance Man.

Ken Houghton

Oops. Gray link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Song-Dance-Man-III-Dylan/dp/0304705888/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1306254175&sr=1-3


Have to say I find this a rather odd post given your previous one on compartmentalizing & the left. In my mind Giggs is still just the great footballer, who happens to be more like other footballers than those interested in that sort of thing had previously supposed. But who cares? What we have lost is the ability to judge people on their work and insist on an all encompassing assessment of their personality, as I thought you pointed out before. Its a level of scrutiny few of us would fancy. I preferred a time when footballers could live off the pitch with the same level of privacy that most of us would wish for.

Mind you, you're right about Townes Van Zandt.

Charles Wheeler

"someone whose best-known songs at least say nothing to those of us of a younger generation"

A pretty wild generalisation on which to pin a rather subjective conclusion.

Solipsism rules OK.

Luis Enrique

I suppose opinions differ over Gigg's status as a footballer, but not much. By the sounds of it, opnions differ to a greater extent of Dylan, but is a factomundo that plenty of people will disagree with you and think he's great. Given that tastes over music are heteregenous and we don't think any less of Motzart becuase x% of the population don't like classical music, I'd say Dylan has a sufficient number of people think he's marvelous to qualify as a great, and you're claim that his reputation is out of proportion to his ability an example of confusing one's own preferences for any sort of objective measure.


Giggs never had a reputation as a faithful family man, at least not outstandingly so. He just dipped his toe in the water of 'celebrity' fame (remember those adverts for Quorn?) and then retreated, replaced and much surpassed in the media eye by Beckham*. Afterwards, Giggs didn't achieve quite Scholes like avoidance of the media but he certainly took a back seat.

Its a blackmial operation he's been subject too as far as I can see. Once people work that out they'll rally to him I reckon: already the beeb is carrying reports of fans attacking reporters' cars outside his house.

Giggs' reputation will survive. He's being lined up to take on the 'public face of the club' ambassador role when Bobby Charlton retires. his reputation will survive because it's based on stuff like this:

*Sidenote: I once heard the the Beckhams very first date was a double one, with Giggs and,I think, Baby Spice making up the other pair...so there but for the grace of God might have gone Ryan.

Tom Addison

Rumour I heard is that Giggs introduced Beckham to Posh. Posh was supposedly trying it on with Giggsy, he wasn't having it so he lumped her on Becks. Becks first impression of her wasn't meant to be that good either!

Innocent Abroad

I agree with you about Dylan as performer.

As songwriter? Well, don't judge him if you haven't heard Barb Jungr's version of his songs - and she's a Lancashire lass.


You seem to be contradicting a sharp observation that you made in a previous post, which had to do with the ability to write songs, as opposed to being able to play an instrument. The person who can do the former is an artist, the latter an artisan. That *some* of his songs sound a little dated now is irrelevant.

Now Hendrix could play but his version didn't improve on this...


But he did with this...


What's the point of comparing this with some sad-sack footballer? You might as well compare steak and ice-cream...


This post is a little weak. It would be more interesting to me if you considered the impications of a privacy Law for democracy. Who is being shagged by a footballer however good is irrelevant. In France Politicians use privacy Law as a way to cover up their misconduct. This undermines accountability. That isthe important issue you and the Judges seem to have overlooked.

The Silent Sceptic

"Expertise in PR seems to be even less useful than ability in singing."

This conclusion is typical of your articles - given a particular hot topic find a situation in which great expertise has failed, and inexpertise has succeeded, and use this single example as a justification for writing off the entire field.


Re. Dylan - I've always put his reputation down to baby-boomers' inability to shut up about the '60s (see the Beatles and the Rolling Stones).

Re. Giggs - I agree re. the Streisand effect. On the other hand, if the reputation of a celebrity is a bit 'edgy' (Robert Downey Jnr, Angelina Jolie), the only defence is a reply of 'So what?', unless the allegation is false, in which case they can sue.

Ed Smith

I'm flattered to be mentioned in your blog, which I enjoy very much.
Sorry if my piece was misleading: I didn't mean to write off today's best singers. I could make a case for Ryan Adams (never to be confused with Bryan, of course). But though he's good, he's still not Dylan.
And don't you think Dylan's reputation did collapse, in the early 80s? The often self-indulgent Dylan-as-genius articles only picked up again in the late 90s, with Time Out of Mind. I would say his reputation has actually varied a lot since his early fame.

Incidentally, I always enjoy your posts about luck.


Giggs deserves more praise than Dylan? Is this a joke? Is this even a logical comparison?


Simply a matter of taste, perhaps? A songwriter can't always know EXACTLY what s/he is writing ABOUT... but a mood, a feeling is created by how the words come together. I love Cohen, I'm indifferent to Dylan, but I'd expect history to rate them equally as artists.


You fall for a common mistake you often (correctly) rail about. You assume Ryan Giggs is as well known as Dylan. My guess would be 90% of the world has no idea who Ryan Giggs is (despite its claim to being 'the world game' it is nowhere near that pervasive as far as individual players are concerned). On the other hand, a significantly greater proportion of the world has heard of Dylan. Hence there is no paradox.
As an example, until recently, I had no idea who Giggs was but having decided to spend a few months in Paris and buying some English newspapers, I found out that he was an elderly soccer player with a newly defunct super injunction. I already knew from papers in Australia of Man U's successes and 'star' players such as Rooney (but I don't recall Giggs being mentioned in these articles - although I'm sure he must have been on occasion).
Unlike most of my peers, I have never been a fan of Dylan's singing but acknowledge that some of his lyrics are pretty good. To compare a man who has been producing this level of output for 50 years to a man who kicks around a bit of inflated leather for less than half that time is, to characterise a very apt English expression, "round objects".

Party Bus Rental Los Angeles

Small bits of content which are explained in details, helps me understand the topic, thank you!

The comments to this entry are closed.

blogs I like

Blog powered by Typepad