Setting the Record Straight: Dylan Fires Back at Media Critics

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American music legend Bob Dylan performs onstage during his concert at The Worker's Gymnasium in Beijing on April 6, 2011

Getty Images / Liu Jin/AFP

The ever-elusive icon defended himself against critics Friday by releasing a scathing statement that revealed a massive media snafu.

After Dylan played in China for the first time last month, news began spreading that his playlist was censored by the Chinese government and he was criticized by many for not playing his traditional “protest songs Perhaps the most brutal in the blogosphere was Maureen Dowd of the New York Times, whose column, “Blowin’ in the Idiot Wind,” described his performance as a “whole new kind of sell-out.”

(More on Dylan plays China for the first time ever)

But Friday, Dylan fired back in a statement that began, “Allow me to clarify a couple of things about this so-called China controversy which has been going on for over a year.” After correcting widely-reported claims that he had been denied performance there last year, he continued to refute a handful of other falsehoods.

“According to Mojo magazine the concerts were attended mostly by ex-pats and there were a lot of empty seats. Not true. If anybody wants to check with any of the concert-goers they will see that it was mostly Chinese young people that came. Very few ex-pats if any,” he said.

He also addressed the issue of censorship by saying, “If there were any songs, verses or lines censored, nobody ever told me about it and we played all the songs that we intended to play.”

But it’s in the last paragraph of the release when his scornful sneer becomes truly audible as he expresses his taunting contempt towards anyone who’s ever attempted to write about him (guilty as charged).

“Everybody knows by now that there’s a gazillion books on me either out or coming out in the near future. So I’m encouraging anybody who’s ever met me, heard me or even seen me, to get in on the action and scribble their own book. You never know, somebody might have a great book in them.”

Dylan’s never shied away from misrepresenting himself to the media, and even admitted to doing so during a CBS 60 Minutes Interview in 2004. “The press–the media, they’re not the judge. God’s the judge,” he said when asked about lying to the press. But if the press belies him on their terms rather than his own, he’ll let them know it. Just when people thought Dylan had lost his snark, he proved otherwise.

(More on The legend of Dylan)