This morning, the King of Folk himself, Mr. Bob Dylan, addressed his “fans and followers” on his website about the much discussed “China controversy”, where it was said he was banned from performing there. Dylan immediately extinguishes any fires, writing, “First of all, we were never denied permission to play in China,” laying blame to a promoter, who “was trying to get [him] to come there after playing Japan and Korea.” He goes on to explain that he and his band had no intentions of playing there, and when this happened, he believes “the promoter had to save face by issuing statements that the Chinese Ministry had refused permission for [him] to play there to get himself off the hook.”
But, that’s all moot because Dylan did end up performing in China this year — last month, to be exact. However, he also addresses recent statements by Mojo magazine, which reported the concerts were attended namely by “ex-pats” with a lot of “empty seats.” Dylan explains, “If anybody wants to check with any of the concert-goers they will see that it was mostly Chinese young people that came. Very few ex-pats if any. The ex-pats were mostly in Hong Kong not Beijing. Out of 13,000 seats we sold about 12,000 of them, and the rest of the tickets were given away to orphanages.”
There was some controversy over his setlists. Dylan dishes on what went on behind-the-scenes, adding, “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.”
The old bard digresses on more thoughts — including an inspirational closing note to any aspiring Dylan biographers out there — but you’ll have to go read it for yourself. Either way, China loves the ol’ Tambourine Man. Case dismissed.