Over the years, Bob Dylan has rarely bothered to address rumors and false information about him. Heck, he’s been a creator of many of the half-trurths and outright lies himself: at the start of his career he changed his name and spread tall tales about his background. So it must have really gotten under his skin that some observers recently took him to task for playing government-censored shows in China, because this morning Dylan released a statement to clarify.
Here’s a snippet of the statement, titled “To My Fans and Followers,” which you can read in its entirety here:
As far as censorship goes, the Chinese government had asked for the names of the songs that I would be playing. There’s no logical answer to that, so we sent them the set lists from the previous 3 months. 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.
In the rare statement, Dylan also notes that contrary to previous reports, he was not previously banned from performing in China and in inimitable Dylan sardonic fashion, he also tweaks his biographers and would-be biographers (for what it’s worth, we’re reading yet another Dylan book called “The Ballad of Bob Dylan” by Daniel Mark Epstein right now, and it’s really great stuff.)
In April, Dylan played in China and Vietnam for the first time in his roughly 50-year career and was roundly criticized by some, most notably Maureen Dowd in the New York Times, for allowing his setlist to be approved by the Chinese government.