Spot befuddles fans

DYLAN'S DELIVERY DEFIES DECIPHERMENT TV

February 08, 1992|By Rafael Alvarez

People were taking turns doing their Bob Dylan impersonations at the Calvert School yesterday.

Why?

Because the night before they'd winced, laughed, and held their stunned breath as Mr. Dylan did his Dylan impersonation on the 10th anniversary special of the "David Letterman Show."

"The first thing people said when they came to work was: 'Did you watch Letterman?' and then everybody did their Dylan impression," said Kim Siriporn, a singer who works in the Calvert School business office. "I thought: 'It's time to put Bob out to pasture . . . somebody should really put him out of his misery."

In offices around Baltimore yesterday the question volleyed between graying Baby Boomers who hadn't checked in lately with their generation's poet laureate: Did you see Dylan on Letterman?

"A friend of mine called me from New York in the middle of it and said: 'Can you believe this?' " said Doug Numbers, an investigator with the attorney general's office. "He looked terrible and he sounded twice as bad."

With a huge all-star band at Radio City Music Hall that included everybody from Carole King to Chrissie Hynde, Mr. Dylan walked on stage a little after 10 p.m. Thursday to sing "Like a Rolling Stone."

Or, as one person put it, he didn't.

"You couldn't understand a single word," said Ms. Siriporn. "I was even watching his lips and I couldn't figure it out."

Watching Mr. Dylan's lips didn't help because of some real or affected tic, not to mention that Mr. Dylan doesn't find it necessary to open his mouth to sing.

Deliberate?

Drugs and alcohol?

Bad attitude?

It's Bob Dylan at 50.

"My suspicion was that he would not play it straight," said a longtime local fan. "I thought he'd use it as an opportunity to frustrate his followers."

A spokeswoman for NBC, which taped the show last month, called Mr. Dylan's performance "spectacular."

Some locals, like Johns Hopkins lab tech Bill Michaud, liked it fine, saying: "Even with his scowl he looked happy to be there."

And plenty more people, like the female inmates at the Baltimore City Detention Center, opted to watch a television movie instead.

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