Written by Harry Porter
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Tuesday, 8 March 2005

image for Dr Bob Dylan returns to scene of teenager's torment
Self Portrait - The cause of one teenager's torment

When Bob Dylan steps up to the stage to accept his degree at St Andrews University, he'll be on tear-soaked ground that witnessed one of his most loyal defences.

Back in 1970, in the corridors of the town's Madras secondary school, 14-year-old George Morris stood alone - perhaps in the world - in defence of Dylan's controversial and vilified double album ‘Self Portrait'.

For nearly a year the teenager withstood a barrage of torment, ridicule, humiliation, and was even ostracised by classmates and teaching staff.

"In those days music really commanded loyalty and you wrote your favourites' names and albums on your school bag," recalled George, now 47, from his Fife home.

"Dylan and ‘Self Portrait' really drew the heat."

Can he remember his tormentors?

"Oh yes, I'll never forget them," he admitted. "There were quite a few Grand Funk Railroaders, the Steppenwolf crew, two art teachers, the head of the gym department and a handful of Hendrix fans.

"The Hendrix guys weren't too bad - they tended to be able to read and since they'd noticed Dylan's name on the credits to ‘Watchtower' they backed off a bit."

George's loyalty meant him enduring constant name calling for months on end.

"It was horrible," he recalls. "They called me ‘Folkie' which was plain wrong, ‘Crooner' and even ‘Hurdy Gurdy Man', which is a Donovan song for Chrissakes! Then when CBS released ‘Wigwam' as the single, things just got worse - everyone, even the teachers, were going around doing bad Dylan impersonations.

"It was horrible, just horrible."

George suffered his torment for almost a full year until Dylan's ‘New Morning' was released and met with massive critical acclaim, silencing the school bullies.

But was ‘Self Portrait' worth the pain?

"The album took a bit of getting into but I still like it," admitted George. "The thing that hurts most is I recently heard the Weberman tapes and Dylan said something like there were only ‘a couple' of good songs on it - there are lots more than that, Bob should never have said that."

George will be in the crowds at St Andrews and hopes to sneak an autograph from Dr Dylan - on his tattered, but prized, ‘Self Portrait' sleeve.

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The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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