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Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Dylan And A Fan Just A Little Too Young

With many books, interviews and now a documentary directed by Martin Scorsese called No Direction Home (discussed in Slate), Bob Dylan is the talk of the media. Dylan is a rock and roll icon in the stratosphere with the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and, well, that’s it. He is the poet of the 60’s and represents the fusion of folk music with rock and roll. To ever criticize him on any level is anathema to any person over the age of 50.

I do not plan on criticizing him much here.

I have many of his CDs (and even have “Blood on the Tracks” in one of the boxes of records in my basement). I was only 7 or so when he took over the folk world that mattered so much to beatnik-hippies. Like all kids at that age, my preference in music was bubble-gum and pop. Then upon hitting my adolescent period, the Beatles and the psychedelic era was upon us. Thus, my Hall of Fame contains most of the English bands that followed the Beatles. Eventually, the California groups like CSN&Y, Airplane and the Dead took over my musical tastes.

Let’s face it; he has a horrible singing voice. I have had more The Band albums than Dylan albums and they were his back-up band in his early rock days. As I age I have begun to appreciate him as a brilliant lyricist who tells stories with wit and insight into what real people think and talk about. And I recognize that most of my favorite groups or individual singers were influenced by Dylan who made music a platform to express issues beyond the latest crush or romantic break-up.

Per interviews I have read, Dylan comes off less haughty than one at such a high mantle and more like a person one may actually know. He has been stung by media enough over the years that he is skeptical of their veracity and finds them often off-base in their artistic analyses. No doubt he wrote some of his best lyrics while merely searching for a word to rhyme with the final word of a prior line. His greatness is that wisdom flowed without labor.

These days I am still a push-over for tunes with a catchy melody sung by great voices. I was infected enough by Hendrix to always crave the guitar solo that mesmerizes. But just like one “must have” certain possessions just “because”, Dylan’s music is one of those rare “must haves”. Put on the headphones and lie down on the couch, turn off the lights and sip some wine and listen to “Blood” or any of his other CDs. He is always worth the time.

BTW: a title of a movie or book must use an obscure quote written by the subject. My title for a Dylan book would be "You Look Like The Silent Type". Any other suggestions?

3 Comments:

At 8:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

yeah man- scorcese's movie was excellent-- most fascinating the reaction (negative) from american and british fans when Dylan went electric- the booing resulted in levon helm leaving for awhile and al kooper dropping out as the keyboard player right before they went to play in Dallas- Al remembered that Kennedy was killed there and Kooper saw himself as a potential John Connelly where the bullet goes through him to get to Dylan- crazy stuff

 
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