Why Bob Dylan Was Wrong About Lenny Bruce

We do not hear much about Lenny Bruce lately but if you look at the new Beatdom 10, The Religion Issue, you will see some new information about the man who changed the face of comedy in America and around the world.  Next time you laugh at an old George Carlin clip or laugh at Lewis Black or Sarah Silverman, you ought to thank Lenny for opening the door for them

A lot of Bob Dylan fans know his song, “Lenny Bruce”  from the 1981  “Shot Of Love” LP.

Lenny’s daughter, Kitty Bruce, talked to Beatdom in November and we asked her about the song and how Dylan sings,”‘He’s on some other shore, he didn’t want to live anymore…” We did not think that to be the case, since Lenny seemed to love life and had no reason to die, aside from the police admittedly trying to kill him, outright, as they said in the press after his death. They killed him with the law. He fought for the Law. He did not kill himself on purpose and it even makes you wonder if he gave himself the last dose that killed him or if it was administered by an officer…but that is just opinion and conjecture.

“You are talking about a writer singing something that might rhyme,” says Kitty, “Bob Dylan has written wonderful songs but I sincerely don’t believe that my father didn’t want to live anymore.”

And who would know better?

 Kitty is preserving the memory of her father, Lenny, by being the heart and soul of  ‘Lenny’s House,’ a 12-Step rehab facility she started in Northeast Pennsylvania to honor his name and memory. You can show your loyalty and love and celebrate the work of Lenny Bruce by sending a contribution to The Lenny Bruce Memorial Foundation, P.O.Box 1089, Pittston, PA, 18640-5082  

Read more from Kitty Bruce in Beatdom 10, The Religion Issue!

The Bob Dylan song does show feeling and respect for the man who battled and won for our First Amendment Rights. Listen to it here…just click on the link!

Bob Dylan, \’Lenny Bruce\’

These are the lyrics:

Lenny Bruce is dead but his ghost lives on and on
Never did get any Golden Globe award, never made it to Synanon
He was an outlaw, that’s for sure
More of an outlaw than you ever were
Lenny Bruce is gone but his spirit’s livin’ on and on

Maybe he had some problems, maybe some things that he couldn’t work out
But he sure was funny and he sure told the truth and he knew what he was talkin’ about
Never robbed any churches nor cut off any babies’ heads
He just took the folks in high places and he shined a light in their beds
He’s on some other shore, he didn’t wanna live anymore

Lenny Bruce is dead but he didn’t commit any crime
He just had the insight to rip off the lid before its time
I rode with him in a taxi once
Only for a mile and a half, seemed like it took a couple of months
Lenny Bruce moved on and like the ones that killed him, gone

They said that he was sick ’cause he didn’t play by the rules
He just showed the wise men of his day to be nothing more than fools
They stamped him and they labeled him like they do with pants and shirts
He fought a war on a battlefield where every victory hurts
Lenny Bruce was bad, he was the brother that you never had

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Author: Michael Hendrick

Michael Hendrick, activist, capitalist, poet and writer, has been published in newspapers and magazines since 1972. Editor of the literary journal, Beatdom, he is currently finishing his first novel, Egypt Cemetery, the first volume of a Proustian effort he refers to as 'A Remembrance of Things Crass' (with apologies to Marcel Proust). A survivor of five bookstores and two libraries, his two cats are his most prized possessions. He likes Irish ciders and organic foods and never misses a Bob Dylan tour!

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2 Comments

  1. I’d add Richard Pryor owes a tip of the hat to Mr. Bruce too.

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  2. bob deals with myths on the whole. somewhere between the facts and imagination.
    he’s an artist not a journalist. who’s to say that the song is ultimately about the Lenny Bruce.
    it’s metaphorical as always. no? it has a life of its own, like all artworks.

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