Comedian and Saturday Night Live vet Norm Macdonald is known for being a captivating storyteller, a fearless innovator, and hilarious. This week, all three combined on Macdonald's Twitter account.
On Monday night, he pieced together a story about his two days hanging out with music icon Bob Dylan, and then proceeded to promptly delete it. Fans of the comedian and the celebrated songwriter were frantic. They shared what they could remember of the story -- some even trying to stitch it back together like Frankenstein's monster.
Macdonald seemed to relish the moment, and retweeted followers who were counting their blessings that they got to read the story at the time, as well as those lamenting that they missed out on their opportunity.
Too often, we take the permanence of the internet for granted. We have more ways than ever to say whatever we want to absolutely anybody and everybody in the world, but we also have countless chances and means of preserving everything we say no matter how insidious or frivolous. For the act of storytelling, however, seemingly into infinity we'll always be able to find an original author's take on an idea. What is great for preserving an idea damages human civilization's extensive tradition of oral history storytelling -- a.k.a. the stuff that Bob Dylan songs are made of.
Macdonald deleting his Dylan story theoretically meant anyone who wanted to hear it would have to garner information second- or third-hand, and these hands have to come together to share their best guess as to what Norm's story was. The speed at which Norm tweeted the tale was as if he had told us all the story at a party. In an Mmmbop, it was gone.
The parts I remember don't speak of the entire story itself, but the snapshots that resonated. Macdonald and Dylan quietly eating beef stew together while listening to Waylon Jennings's Honky Tonk Heroes, written by their mutual friend Billy Joe Shaver. Dylan asking Macdonald what his favorite book of the Bible was, Dylan saying his was Ecclesiastes while Macdonald's was Job, and Dylan going on to say the version of Job we know today isn't how it was originally. Dylan's obsession with how any word could be turned into a verb.
Obviously, Norm tells it far better. For those not interested in the game of piecing the story together, BDCwire has it in full.
But did Macdonald intend for us to share the story as he told it or as we knew it? Or was it deleted for personal reasons? Or was he trolling us? The motivations are as mysterious as the story itself and on a platform essentially built to explicitly share every aspect of our every thought, that bit of mystery is refreshing.
Norm Macdonald's Bob Dylan story was the equivalent of an amazing improvised jazz solo from a virtuoso. The BDCwire capturing of the tweets is the concert bootleg that showed up several decades later. But now that all the tweets are available in full, the mystery surrounding its disappearance and significance may be even greater.
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