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Mixed-Up Confusion: Chinese Newspaper Can’t Tell Bob Dylan From Willie Nelson


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Bob Dylan finally made his long-awaited debut in China today with a two-hour concert at Beijing's Worker's Gymnasium, in front of 5,000 fans who had never seen the folk legend perform before. In fact, one can assume that those in attendance had never even seen Bob Dylan before: According to the Telegraph, Shanghai newspaper Xinmin Evening News accidentally accompanied their story about Dylan performing in Shanghai tomorrow night with a picture of Willie Nelson. In case you've been living under a rock these past 50 years, this is Bob Dylan. And this is Willie Nelson. We don't see (or hear) the resemblance. We would have accepted a photo of Bob Dole if it was a "lost in translation" situation on their photo service, but it turns out the majority of Chinese people just don't know what Dylan looks like.

"In China, maybe many people have heard of Dylan, but not many really know who he is," Beijing music critic Zhang Xiaozhou explained to the Telegraph. "I know his songs from karaoke, but I'm really not that familiar with him," another fan told Reuters. "Still I think this was a historic concert and I'm glad I've seen him."

Even though Dylan's Chinese fans couldn't pick him out of a police lineup -- though, to be fair, a New Jersey cop mistook the legend for a drifter in 2009 -- the singer still received a "rapturous reception" from his Beijing show, where rock's poet laureate performed a Culture Ministry-approved set list that omitted from his more politically minded songs. Hopefully when Dylan returns to China in another half-century, they'll recognize him.

[Photo: L. Cohen/]

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