Oh, that Ellen Willis…

When she’s right, she’s super duper right; she had Dylan pegged before anyone else, back in 1967 in her breakthrough piece “Into the Flood”:

In six years Dylan’s stance has evolved from proletarian assertiveness to anarchist angst to pop detachment. At each stage he he made himself harder to follow, provoked howls of execration from those left behind, and attracted an ever-larger, more demanding audience. He has reacted with growing hostility to the possessiveness of this audience and its shock troops, the journalists, the professional categorizers. ..  Dylan’s refusal to be known is not simply a celebrities ploy, but a passion that has shaped his work. As his songs have become more introspective, the introspections have become more impersonal, the confidences of a no-man without past or future. Bob Dylan as an identifiable persona has been disappearing into his songs, which is what he wants.

But when she’s wrong – oh dear, is she ever wrong.  One of her favourites on Abbey Road? “Octopus’s Garden”. The one she likes the least? “Oh Darling”.  Also, she hates “Bridge Over Troubled Water” but loves it when Elvis sings it at a concenrt in 1972. In the fat jumpsuit era. Really. Wow. Okay, then.


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