Bob Dylan took to his official site this morning for a rare statement in reaction to discussion over rumors of censorship at the living legend’s recent performances in China, which were — according to a number of reports — canceled last year by the Chinese government and rescheduled for this spring, sans early-career protest anthems in the set list. Not so fast, says the poet laureate of rock:
First of all, we were never denied permission to play in China. This was all drummed up by a Chinese promoter who was trying to get me to come there after playing Japan and Korea. My guess is that the guy printed up tickets and made promises to certain groups without any agreements being made. We had no intention of playing China at that time, and when it didn’t happen most likely the promoter had to save face by issuing statements that the Chinese Ministry had refused permission for me to play there to get himself off the hook.
Dylan goes on to debunk reports that the audience in Beijing was made up of mostly ex-pats: “Not true,” he writes. “If anybody wants to check with any of the concert-goers they will see that it was mostly Chinese young people that came.” Dylan adds that though the press promoted the concerts with photos of famous 1960s names like Joan Baez, Che Guevara, Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, the younger audience wouldn’t be as familiar with that era or “have known [his] early songs anyway.” In response to claims of censorship, Dylan revealed that the government did request a list of songs to be performed ahead of the gigs, so he sent 3 months of recent set lists with no objections from the Chinese government.
Finally, employing his trademark, hilariously cryptic wit, Dylan encouraged people to write more books about his life:
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.
Bob Dylan may be turning 70 years old in a few weeks, but the icon won’t be shying away from confronting critics like a 20-something anytime soon.