This is crazy good: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qVs6X9yIM_k. (Notice that at one point, he mixes Santa’s reindeers’ names in with those of recent US presidents.)

Bob Dylan was virtually unknown in the Soviet Union. When his friend, the famous and immensely popular poet Andrey Voznesensky — the officially sanctioned avant-garde enfant terrible of Soviet literature (the cooler, as it were, and more Western-oriented version of Yevgeny Yevtushenko, though every bit as conformist as the latter in his carefully, safely sanitized, Union of Soviet Writers-vetted political progressivism, and just as much of a tireless world traveller and mad self-promoter and name-dropper, never missing an opportunity to roll out the lengthy list of his suppositional close friends, good acquaintances and ardent admirers: the vertitable Who’s Who of the international literary and arts scene) — brought him, in 1985, to the international festival of poetry in Moscow co-organized by Yevtushenko and Voznesensky and held (as per the good old 1960’s tradition, borne out of the Khrushchevian thaw’s heady ferment of abortive nascent freedom) at the giant Luzhniki stadium, he sang “Blowin’ in the Wind” in complete silence. The audience — presumably comprised, to make matters worse still, of the non-Dylanesque, non-English-speaking, Party- and Trade Unions-affilated crowd — couldn’t wait for him to finish and be replaced on stage by someone it could understand and relate to, such as Yevtushenko himself or the rustic Byelorussian growler Rygor Borodulin or some such. It was a sad, uncomfortable sight to behold… Yours Truly, who was watching the recording of the event on television in his apartment in Leningrad, couldn’t have known at the time that in a few short months he’d be told he was free finally to leave the country, and had three weeks to do so. This was a long time ago.



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