Bob Dylan blocked from performing scheduled concerts in China

37th AFI Life Achievement Award - Show

Legendary singer-songwriter Bob Dylan has been banned from performing upcoming scheduled dates in China by the Chinese government.  His promoter for this leg of the tour Brokers Brother Herald stated that:

“China’s Ministry of Culture did not give us permission to stage concerts in Beijing and Shanghai, so we had no alternative to scrap plans for a South East Asian tour.   The chance to play in China was the main attraction for him.  When that fell through, everything else was called off.”

Due to this, Dylan’s next scheduled tour date will not be until May 29th in Athens, Greece.

Dylan recently completed a series of shows in his self described “Never Ending Tour” in Japan including an impressive seven night stand in Tokyo.  You can check out the setlists and reviews of the shows here.

It is highly symbolic that of all the artists out there Bob Dylan has been banned from performing in China.  His highly influential career includes songs that actually did affect a revolution, that changed hearts and minds during the 60’s counter-culture movement including Blowing in the Wind, The Times They Are a Changing, and With God On Our Side among many, many others.  This voice never waned after the 60’s with songs such as Hurricane, Union Sundown, Every Grain of Sand, and Ain’t Talking having every bit the revolutionary punch of his previous works.

Dylan has performed seemingly everywhere and for everyone including the Pope as well as opening up for Martin Luther King Jr. before his eternal I Have a Dream Speech. 

The Chinese government has been especially weary since Icelandic singer Bjork shouted out “Tibet” “Tibet” at the end of her song Declare Independence during a performance two years ago.

Jeffrey Wu, of  Brokers Brother Herald stated the following:

“What Bjork did definitely made life very difficult for other performers. They are very wary of what will be said by performers on stage now.”

It is completely counter to Bob Dylan’s style to make an overt statement like Bjork did.  As he always has he would have let his masterpieces speak for themselves.  The country that hosted the most recent Summer Olympics, the global expression of community and togetherness, has prevented their citizens from seeing and hearing arguably the most influential artist in recorded music history.  That is a national tragedy and shame.

This is for all those who weren’t allowed to see Bob Dylan:

Chimes of Freedom:

Far between sundown’s finish an’ midnight’s broken toll
We ducked inside the doorway, thunder crashing
As majestic bells of bolts struck shadows in the sounds
Seeming to be the chimes of freedom flashing
Flashing for the warriors whose strength is not to fight
Flashing for the refugees on the unarmed road of flight
An’ for each an’ ev’ry underdog soldier in the night
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing

In the city’s melted furnace, unexpectedly we watched
With faces hidden while the walls were tightening
As the echo of the wedding bells before the blowin’ rain
Dissolved into the bells of the lightning
Tolling for the rebel, tolling for the rake
Tolling for the luckless, the abandoned an’ forsaked
Tolling for the outcast, burnin’ constantly at stake
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing

Through the mad mystic hammering of the wild ripping hail
The sky cracked its poems in naked wonder
That the clinging of the church bells blew far into the breeze
Leaving only bells of lightning and its thunder
Striking for the gentle, striking for the kind
Striking for the guardians and protectors of the mind
An’ the unpawned painter behind beyond his rightful time
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing

Through the wild cathedral evening the rain unraveled tales
For the disrobed faceless forms of no position
Tolling for the tongues with no place to bring their thoughts
All down in taken-for-granted situations
Tolling for the deaf an’ blind, tolling for the mute
Tolling for the mistreated, mateless mother, the mistitled prostitute
For the misdemeanor outlaw, chased an’ cheated by pursuit
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing

Even though a cloud’s white curtain in a far-off corner flashed
An’ the hypnotic splattered mist was slowly lifting
Electric light still struck like arrows, fired but for the ones
Condemned to drift or else be kept from drifting
Tolling for the searching ones, on their speechless, seeking trail
For the lonesome-hearted lovers with too personal a tale
An’ for each unharmful, gentle soul misplaced inside a jail
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing

Starry-eyed an’ laughing as I recall when we were caught
Trapped by no track of hours for they hanged suspended
As we listened one last time an’ we watched with one last look
Spellbound an’ swallowed ’til the tolling ended
Tolling for the aching ones whose wounds cannot be nursed
For the countless confused, accused, misused, strung-out ones an’ worse
An’ for every hung-up person in the whole wide universe
An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing

Lyrics by Bob Dylan