November 12, 2006

Other Bob Dylan fiascos.

The awful failure of the Bob Dylan musical prompts Mark Caro to list other Dylan-related disasters:
1. "Tarantula."...

2. "Dylan."...

3. "Renaldo and Clara."...

4. "At Budokan."...

5. "Masked and Anonymous."...
Surely, this list could be lengthened.

15 comments:

LetMeSpellItOutForYou said...

Any list would have to include the "Self Portrait" album.

Pogo said...

Given Dylan's lengthy tenure and voluminous output, this list of rejects is mighty thin.

I just gained more respect for the man.

Meade said...

The baby blue not to be thrown out with the Masked & Anonymous bath water would be the soundtrack - a superb collection of little-known covers including a Japanese 'My Back Pages,' an Italian hip-hop 'Like a Rolling Stone,' and Bob himself with his boys doing the best damn version of 'Dixie' you will ever hear this side of the post 19th century Mason-Dixon line.

The movie itself is worth wasting time watching for one scene and one scene only: an a cappella audition of 'The Times They Are A-Changin' performed for the old man by young Tinashe Kachingwe.

Eddie said...

A couple of thoughts about the list:

1. The live album at Budokan is not terrible; it just isn't what most people expect and want from Dylan. To my mind, the album helps reveal that Dylan's music isn't just an occasion for his lyrics. Pop-Dylan sounds just fine. (And saying that it sounds like Vegas as a way of insulting it overlooks that Vegas does preserve some art forms that are hard to find elsewhere.)

2. "Masked and Anonymous" is a terrible movie, but the soundtrack has its moments: some Jerry Garcia versions that are excellent, Dylan singing "Dixie" and "Diamond Joe", and a group by the name of The Dixie Hummingbirds singing "City of Gold" so well that you might want to get it for that song alone.

Hamsun56 said...

I agree with Eddie's comments - "Budokan", while not my cup of tea, is not horrible.

Masked and Anonymous has yet to come to a theater near me, so I haven't seen it. But I've seen a video of "Cold Irons Bound" from the movie and the music was hot and Dylan's stone cold killer glare was engaging.

To add to the list:
The song "Three Angels" from New Morning.
All of Knocked out Loaded, except for "Brownsville Girl".

Meade said...

The linked-to article notes that this musical is a fiasco not of Bob's making but one that he is merely associated with.

Two more fiascos the artist associated himself with:

1. Carter

2. Carter

Bird Dog said...

Shame on you, Ann.

If any one of us accomplished one-hundredth of what he has done, we'd be satisfied.

Some famous folks have only written one great song.

The more one tries, the more one fails. That is guaranteed. Going the distance is a tough road, and a few mis-steps mean nothing. I think Dylan might be at his prime, now.

George said...

Michaelangelo's scupture of Moses isn't so great, either.

LetMeSpellItOutForYou said...

The more one tries, the more one fails. Well, yes, but by his own admission he's been coasting for quite a while now! While I fully appreciate his towering achievement, his artistic judgement and ability to edit himself is often shockingly poor. Except perhaps for a bit part in Pat Garrett, his cinematic forays have been uniformly awful.

The song "Three Angels" from New Morning. Then let's not leave out "If Dogs Run Free." Also from an otherwise excellent album: "Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts," especially the part where he uses a harmonica that's in the wrong key.

Something I regard as a continuing fiasco, based on the last three live shows I attended, were his guitar solos, which typically consisted of three notes played over and over again. (He has since gone keyboard-only.) Perhaps there is purpose to this, since he has done much the same with his singing, often converting otherwise interesting tunes into tonic-dominant-octave, one after the other.

johnstodderinexile said...

Well, yes, but by his own admission he's been coasting for quite a while now!

I haven't read where he's said that, but nothing could be further from the truth (and generally Dylan interviews are far from the truth). I put Modern Times and Love and Theft as among his greatest work, just a hair behind Highway 61, Blonde on Blonde and Blood on the Tracks. Plus, his touring schedule is strenuous. Because of the enduring popularity of his older songs and albums, Dylan is extremely wealthy, and doesn't need to go to the trouble of making new music or performing in public on such a regular basis. "Coasting" is the most inapt word you could possibly apply to Dylan.

Any list would have to include the "Self Portrait" album. But that album was a conscious attempt to get the various hippie hangers-on, New Left lunatics and so-called "Dylanologists" off his back. He figured, rightly, that his insistence that he spoke for no one but himself would only finally be heard if he made an album of meaningless music. (Sadly, "Self Portrait" was the first Dylan album I bought with my own money. A pricey double-LP! Listening to it was a very weird experience. I thought the whole thing was in code, and I just wasn't cool enough at 14 to figure it out.)

I think Dylan's biggest fiasco was allowing himself to be associated with the folkie/protest movement. It might have been politically significant for a few months, but it gave him an image that he is still unable to shake of someone whose songs are meant to criticize society and make this a better world. It goes on today -- dumb rock critics assuming that "When the Levee Breaks" off his new CD just has to be a protest song about how the Bush Administration mishandled Katrina, when not one word of it supports that interpretation.

Bleepless said...

If he's so great, why does he invariably sound as though he has a corncob stuck in his nose?

EMC said...

No, "Modern Times" is not great. It sounds OK, because the ensemble playing is good, but the words and music are lazy and derivative.

LarryK said...

The live album with the Dead is definitely regrettable.

The relationship between Dylan and the folk movement is complicated. I don't think it's fair to say it was a fiasco, because his exposure to folk music gave him access to a wealth of images and sounds that he has drawn on for most of his career. On the other hand, it's true that far too many people still think of Dylan as a "protest singer." In reality, he left protest and the folkies behind very early in his career to go his own way, the way any real artist would. It's not really his fault that a sizeable number of so-called fans haven't been paying attention to what Dylan has been doing since 1964.

And yes, Modern Times and particularly Love and Theft are great and deserve to be listed with the best Dylan albums (to which I would add Bringing it All Back Home)

Meade said...

Sorry LarryK, but his only 'great' works were produced from 1964 to 1969 -- original, courageous, imaginative.

So you're right about 'Bringin' It All Back Home.'

But 'Modern Times' and 'Love & Theft?' nah.

'Time Out of Mind' was a good album thanks to its producer. Every album that he has self produced has pretty much sucked.

Mr. Blah said...

Every album that he has self produced has pretty much sucked.

I'd venture to say that every album that has been produced has sucked. Actually I wouldn't because I don't believe that but I don't think it has much to do with him being the producer. For example the overly slick and polished sound that many believe take away from the songs on Street Legal can be credited to Don DeVito.