Bob Dylan Defends China Set Lists in Open Letter to Fans
In response to criticism that he censored his set lists to appease the Chinese government during his concerts last month in China, Bob Dylan has written an open letter to his fans refuting those claims.
Some journalists took shots at Dylan, assuming that he adjusted his set lists to conform to the standards of the Chinese government. Maureen Dowd of The New York Times strongly bashed the iconic singer-songwriter in her April 9 column:
"The idea that the raspy troubadour of ’60s freedom anthems would go to a dictatorship and not sing those anthems is a whole new kind of sellout — even worse than Beyonce, Mariah and Usher collecting millions to croon to Qaddafi’s family, or Elton John raking in a fortune to serenade gay-bashers at Rush Limbaugh’s fourth wedding," she wrote following Dylan's April 6 show in Beijing.
A month later, Dylan has responded to the critics with a rare open letter of his own. The folk-rock legend explains that the sets he played at his China gigs were very similar to the ones he's been playing recently all over the world, and that he did not conform them to meet any government standards:
"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."
A look at Dylan's set lists from his April 6 concert in Beijing and April 8 gig in Shanghai does indeed seem to verify that his song selections were very similar to his other recent shows around the world.