May 24, 2007

Bob's...

... 66.

41 comments:

Hoosier Daddy said...

I never could quite understand how anyone could listen to him sing and think, 'Boy this is good stuff.'

Yes I know it was poetry and all that crap but my God the man could not hold a tune to save his life.

MadisonMan said...

66 and his voice is just as fresh and melodic as it was 40 years ago. You're right on, Hoosier Daddy.

ricpic said...

Shoulda been a nice yeshiva bucher. Went wrong, horribly wrong,

Bissage said...

He should go for a drive and get his kicks.

But where?, . . . , but where?, . . .

Ron said...

Wow, just 600 years from now and he can finally join up with his lord and master....

Roost on the Moon said...

Bissage,

I'd suggest he get his kicks by revisiting highway 61.

Everyone else,

So much Bob Dylan hate! How can you hate Bob Dylan?

It's like hating apple pie.

Bob said...

I don't feel a day over 45, actually.

*grins*

John said...

If you don't get Dylan you just have no understanding or taste in popular music. Is Dylan Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys with perfect voices and harmonies? No. First, his voice actually isn't that bad. I defy anyone to listen to Lay Lady Lay and tell me that he can't sing. Further the songs and the lyrics are a big deal for a reason. Dylan is only song writer in history who wrote so many great songs that he could take something like "Lay Down Your Weary Tune", a song that most 60s folk artists would sell their souls to ever write, or "Blind Willie McTell" and just put them on the shelf and forget about them. It is just unbelievable. Further, listen to Love and Theft or Modern Times. No one other than maybe Johnny Cash has ever managed to make relevant records this late in their careers.

JoeLaX said...

RE: John

I love Bob, but I would consider "Lay Lady Lay" to be perhaps the worst singing Bob ever did. My opinion in that regard may be colored by the fact that the lyrics to "Lay Lady Lay" may be the worst he ever wrote.

I think his singing is best when he is kind of in poetry slam mode, spitting out the words like a mad preacher.

My 2 cents.

MadisonMan said...

roost on the moon, why is pointing out the obvious, that Dylan can't sing worth a damn, interpreted as hate?

To John: I'm glad you love Dylan and therefore have taste in pop music. You'll probably argue that your taste is good. I disagree.

Bissage said...

I used to want to be Bob Dylan. But anymore I wish I was someone just a little more funky.

John said...

Joelax,

I hate that song to. But he quit smoking and his voice sounded really good and un Dylan like. Most people who say they can't stand Dylan's voice like that song and in fact sometimes don't even know it was made by Dylan. That is why it is used as an example.


Madiaon Man,

Bad taste is bad taste. Glenn Gould was a genius but hated Mozart. Not that Dylan is Mozart but Gould was wrong about Mozart just as you are wrong about Dylan. There may not be a lot of accounting for taste but there is some and some people really are undeniable geniuses.

Roost on the Moon said...

Madison Man,

He is a brilliant singer. Arguing taste is futile, but the fact that Dylan doesn't sing out of tune is objectively verifiable. You could say that his singing is sometimes too nasal, or wheezy, or whatnot (subjective taste stuff) but he never hits sour notes or fails to "hold a tune".

Hate is a little strong, I'm just casually tossing it around. I don't mean you have a hard heart or wish him harm or something. I mean it in the sense that some poor misguided soul might say "I hate apple pie" or "That Bob Dylan sure can't sing."

Hoosier Daddy said...

If you don't get Dylan you just have no understanding or taste in popular music.

Its called an opinion. I 'get' Dylan just fine, I simply think his singing sucks.

First, his voice actually isn't that bad.

Compared to what? 3 castrated tomcats fighting in a burlap bag?

I defy anyone to listen to Lay Lady Lay and tell me that he can't sing.

Consider yourself defied. I spent a trip to Columbus OH with my sister in law listening to him and was ready to kill someone by the time we hit Dayton.

Further the songs and the lyrics are a big deal for a reason.

Ok, I think you're mistaking my dislike with his singing with his songwriting. Two different things. I won't argue he's a great songwriter but leave the singing to someone else.

Further, listen to Love and Theft or Modern Times. No one other than maybe Johnny Cash has ever managed to make relevant records this late in their careers.

I'm crediting a lot of his popularity with the prevalence of wide drug usage at the time which probably had some effect on people's auditory systems.

Ron said...

I'm tired of the thrall of Dylan. He's a fine songwriter, but he just can't sing worth a damn, and to call him a "brilliant" singer must mean I'm Cary Grant!

Paul McCartney is as least as good a songwriter, handsome in his youth,and a far, far better singer than Dylan will ever be. Sorry if he's not "real" enough for you, but Macca deserves more praise and Bob less.

George said...

Would you get hip to this kindly tip, and go take that California trip? Get your kicks on Route 66....

Lonesome Payne said...

Yes, there is no arguing taste. But you can make an appeal to class and intelligence, and say to someone like Hoosier Daddy that for those of us who love the Dylan of 1961-1978 and then sporadically afterwards, we don't just put up with his voice. We love his voice.
That's just a fact you have to deal with. For us, that voice is the embodiment of American plaintive folk.

I don’t expect him to come around and understand that, but I would expect him (here's the class part) to accept that a lot of people – among those paying attention, it's a gigantic majority – think he’s just sort of oddly wrong, perverse almost. For some reason denying himself a significant pleasure in the world. Gaining nothing but distinctiveness. And we wonder, what’s the kick that’s derived from blaring this odd opinion so aggressively?

LutherM said...

"he not busy being born
Is busy dying."


Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

DO NOT GO GENTLE INTO THAT GOOD NIGHT Dylan Thomas

MadisonMan said...

John, the idea that Dylan is a genius singer is laughable.

If anyone were in charge of hiring a singer for just about any event, and among the choices was a Dylan sound-alike, it boggles the mind that someone would pick Mr. PseudoDylan over, say, Mr. PseudoMcCartney or Ms. PseudoCook, and retain their singer-picking job.

Roost on the Moon said...

That's because when you choose a "singer" for an "event" you aren't interested exciting, innovative, brilliant, unique music. You aren't interested in creativity, vocal or otherwise. You want music you've heard before, sung conventionally. You want music so bland that nobody could possibly complain.

But what a lousy way to evaluate creative genius.

And it's way more than just the writing. Dylan injects all kinds of meaning and conflict with subtle inflection. Many of his songs wouldn't work without that kind of tonal control. Picture one of your "talented" American Idol singers or company picnic entertainers pulling off the regret of "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" without seeming whiny and self-pitying. Or keeping your sympathy through "Leopardskin Pillbox Hat".

Lonesome Payne said...

I think what MM and a couple others are tying to say is something along the lines of "I don't get it, I have no willingness to try to get it, I prefer the illusion of wisdom to the possibility of a new source of sublime pleasure, and I'll crankily proclaim my correctness as the world rolls along without me."

Lonesome Payne said...

Because I honestly don’t understand the attitude, the belligerence of it specifically.

And I really do mean it I’ve always thought that about any kind of art, especially music. If so many people, including people you undoubtedly know and even love, derive such joy out of something, don’t you owe it to yourself to seek out the joy? To try to enter the frame of mind that perceives it? Or at the very least, avoid making boisterous pronouncements about it until you do that.

The most understandable response to not perceiving such joy would be grief, I think.

MadisonMan said...

Lonesome Payne, I bow down before your omniscience. Please explain why I am belligerent whereas Pro-Dylan roost and John are not.

My dislike for Dylan's singing voice is just as irrational as their worship of it.

Lonesome Payne said...

I'm just saying, look at reality. Of people who really pay attention, look at the numbers. Look at the people in your own life, or people you've met, people who seem fine and great and who love Bob Dylan in a very deep way. Look at the musicians you may admire.

It's good old Occam's razor again: what's the simplest explanation for the disagreement?

But beyond that, wouldn't you love to undertsand it? It's just so damn great when it hits you. It's not a cult. It's not weird Borg stuff - "resistance is futile." Nothing like that.

It's more akin to beer, the way some of us have to work a little at it to begin really liking it, and then deeply loving it. And it sure is worth the effort.

Ron said...

The smug condescension of the pro-Dylan people is rapidly increasing my revulsion. I know plenty of people who don't like beer. I say, "Try it," and if they still don't like it, I tip my hat and say "OkeyDokey," because their dislike is fine with me! I don't think that they should "love to understand it," I live with, and respect their right to make choices different than my own. The belligerence comes from their repeated insistence that you must re-affirm their musical choices, that choosing differently makes you "perverse," (among other insults!), and assuming that lack of agreement means lack of understanding.

I think the American plaintive folk response to all this is "Up Yours!"

Mark Daniels said...

Dylan has a lousy voice and I love his music.

Mark Daniels
Here

Revenant said...

66

That's an eerie coincidence. 66 also happens to be approximately the number of albums Dylan's released since the last time he did a song I liked.

Lonesome Payne said...

Plainly stated ideas can come across as smug or condescending, especially if they're sort of, like, logical.

I’m smug and condescending. Noted. But beyond that, what about my reasoning?

You don't get this thing, this voice, that brings joy to people you love and respect. (A situation which would be the case for the overwhelming majority of anti-Dylanologists.)

Why the need to tear down? Out of the blue, as the first comments on a thread marking the guy’s birthday?

It doesn't threaten what I believe. It's an attitude that seems anti-generous and anti-profound. It begs a response. Maybe that's dumb, because the mentality that would start a thread that way might not be real amenable to it.

The need to leap in and declare boldly on this topic seems like an affectation. Those beer-non-lovers of yours – do they exhibit the need to proclaim on the suckiness of beer at frequent intervals, almost whenever the topic arises? Do they declare heatedly at parties focused on beer that claiming to love beer is a laughable idea?

Stephen Baraban said...

Joe LaX,

"Lay Lady Lay" contains Bob's worst lyrics?

Certainly not the lines:

His clothes are dirty
But his hands are clean

("Clean hands" here carrying of course its familiar metaphorical significance.

Stephen Baraban said...

Re/ "Lay Lady Lay" I forgot to mention the lines

Stay lady stay,
While the night is still ahead

wherein I think the most important significance of "ahead" is that the Night (the time of awe and romance) is winning, is in control.

But I may be misled into such readings by the wonder and urgency of the music...

Bissage said...

Ron is a giant among men.

I'm not saying anything about Bob Dylan.

I'm just saying that Ron is a giant among men.

(That repays many debts.)

Revenant said...

I’m smug and condescending. Noted. But beyond that, what about my reasoning?

Your reasoning mixes the argumentum ad popularum fallacy with the argument from authority fallacy.

Musicians are experts on playing (their) music. They are not experts on what constitutes good music. Nobody is.

Hence, their opinions on Dylan are worth nothing.

Ron said...

Your first sentence said: "Plainly stated ideas can come across as smug or condescending, especially if they're sort of, like, logical."

Wow, I'm glad you're not smug! Oh, wait, you admit you're smug! At this point, why am I even going to consider your reasons? You'll strap all virtues onto yourself, and insult and denigrate those who disagree, reasons be damned!

"You don't get this thing, this voice, that brings joy to people you love and respect. (A situation which would be the case for the overwhelming majority of anti-Dylanologists.)" Again, confusing disagreement with understanding!

"Why the need to tear down? Out of the blue, as the first comments on a thread marking the guy’s birthday?" How's about this: We're sick to death of hearing about how wonderful Dylan is. There are enough people who find The Dylan Thrall mawkish and repugnant so we need to say it out loud with being lectured or insulted as I've seen some of the Pro-Dylan people do in this thread.

"It doesn't threaten what I believe." How's about this one: I don't care what you believe; it's not about you.

"Those beer-non-lovers of yours – do they exhibit the need to proclaim on the suckiness of beer at frequent intervals, almost whenever the topic arises? Do they declare heatedly at parties focused on beer that claiming to love beer is a laughable idea?" If these non-beer lovers are hectored like I've seen Dylan lovers do over and over again? Hell, yes they need to proclaim!

Stop painting yourself an innocent and realize the extent that you are trying to bully (not argue! Arguing assumes respect for the person who disagrees, which is the issue here. ) people into agreeing with your tastes.

Galvanized said...

Ahh, regardless of whether you like Dylan as an artist, he IS the embodiment of hip. He was so cool when he was younger...and more intelligible. I've always enjoyed his lyrics and old footage and interviews of him, even though it's painful to watch him perform now. He's just interesting to watch, and you wonder if his discomfort with attention is really that annoying to him or an act; maybe that's the appeal.

MadisonMan said...

revenant, your comment on 66 is hilarious.

Lonesome Payne said...

“Get” might have been a bad word, since it implies a lack. By “get” I don’t mean “understand.” As in an intelligence sense. I mean “be affected by,” the way art affects us. I’m just laying out the starting point there. You don’t “get” this one, Dylan’s voice that is. In itself, there’s no judgment in that reality. I don’t care. Bummer. You should work on it, as I say, the way my friend Tom told me to be patient with my initial “huh?” response to Elvis Costello. He was right about that one, too.

My whole point is – why the need to tear down this thing that brings such joy to so many, especially given that the group undoubtedly includes so many in your own lives?

It’s that need, that urge, as evidenced by the way this thread started, that brings the response you claim as your actual motivation. And I hate to say, but in this particular instance, well, your side started it.

I guess we’ll have to accept that you live odd lives surrounded by bullying Dylan fans, accosting you at restaurants demanding to see your Dylan fan ID and grilling you on your failure to love both him and his voice.

Lonesome Payne said...

“Stop painting yourself an innocent and realize the extent that you are trying to bully (not argue! Arguing assumes respect for the person who disagrees, which is the issue here. ) people into agreeing with your tastes.”

How am I bullying? I’m not trying to get you to agree with me that Dylan’s voice is often great. That’s obviously pointless. If that’s what you mean by a failure to “argue,” that’s my response.

I’m just shifting the frame of reference a little and trying to explain why the attitude that started the thread is so grating for a big Dylan fan.

Although to return to the voice for a second: for me, his lyrics and his voice are a unit. In fact, the whole sound of his music is a unit. It all works together, at its best. I read an essay recently making the case that Dylan is best understood as a musician, not a lyricist, in that the lyrics are almost always chosen at least in part and sometimes most dominantly in service of the whole sound.

People who say they love the lyrics but hate the voice – well, fine, but in a non-smug way I’d silently urge them to keep working at it, because in my opinion – that’s all it is – they’re kind of not “getting” it. Which is too bad.

To repeat what I said earlier, a basic idea with me for a long time: on matters of art, if anyone you seriously respect waxes on about something, anything, and you don’t see it – that person isn’t wrong. There’s no way. The thing he perceives is definitely there. You’re just not seeing or hearing it, maybe because you’re just not made that way. Which is fine. But respect for a great love like that is a matter of class.

Robert R. said...

They should have a Bob Dylan night on American Idol just to demonstrate what a good singer Dylan is as his songs get butchered by people with pleasant voices who bring no meaning or emotion to the words.

Dylan doesn't have a good voice. It's nasal, raspy, and doesn't have much range. But as a performer, at his best, there are few better. There are few better at using cadence, inflection, and raw emotion to bring meaning to the words.

Ron said...

How are you bullying? Let's see...
In one post you tell us you know what reality is.
You told hoosier daddy that you pro-Dylan folk are "a gigantic majority" of people who "pay attention," that he's "oddly wrong", "perverse," "denying himself a significant pleasure," with his "odd opinion." At the very least this is insulting of someone who has a different opinion than your own, and it's a crude attempt to arm twist someone into your opinions.

No, we didn't "start it." Several people said they don't like Dylan, but there were no attacks on the fans of Dylan until they started dishing on those who are not fans.

There's nothing so special about Dylan that prohibits looking at lyrics separate from everything else. If you can do it for Cole Porter or Bono or John Lennon, Mr. Zimmerman merits no special treatment.

Somehow I don't think my lack of respect for a Nazi who has got that great love for Der Fuehrer indicates a lack of class on my part. You know, there are people with enough passion to blow themselves up in airplanes into skyscrapers, passion to blow up Greenwich Village Jewish singer-songwriters, maybe even more passion than the Blonde on Blonde fan base. But if it means I'm classless for not respecting their Big Love to slaughter those who disagree with them, well, call me Ralph Kramden.

Lonesome Payne said...

Since you’re not into doing careful reading, I’ll help out by suggesting that the phrases you point out were presented, and honestly, as description of how these aggressively anti-Dylan opinions come across to one like me. Just a fact: that’s how they come across. FYI, so to speak.

Which is mostly important (in terms of your potential need to reflect) when joined to a fact you really can’t refute beyond mocking it: the pretty damn large majority opinion on Bob Dylan among other musicians, people of his generation, the music press and so on is that he’s great. (Does this reflect on his voice, the original topic? I’d argue it’d be hard for his reputation to be what it is if the consensus was that he was a great lyric writer but his voice was barely listenable.)

Which you don’t need to agree with. Granted. I don’t care if you agree. But especially since the majority probably includes good friends and loved ones and lovers, I ask again – why the urge to tear down? Not that it was you, but speaking to the type – why the spiteful compulsion to declare it to be “obvious” that Dylan can’t “sing worth a damn?”

You guys would rather do that, reacting to some fantasy Dylan mafia, than come to terms with the grief of missing out on something, or put an effort into opening up your receptors?

But anyway, given the rationality of your final comment, I can conclude you’ve lost it. Most like you’ll go your way and I’ll go mine.

Ron said...

"Since you’re not into doing careful reading,"
More insults; yes I read it quite carefully. You -- and not just you , John as well -- start out insulting people in your first post.

"I’ll help out by suggesting that the phrases you point out were presented, and honestly, as description of how these aggressively anti-Dylan opinions come across to one like me. Just a fact: that’s how they come across. FYI, so to speak."
Wow, what spin doctoring! And that's a fact!

"Which is mostly important (in terms of your potential need to reflect)"
Oh, I forgot! I disagree with the Owner of All Facts! My Bad!

when joined to a fact you really can’t refute beyond mocking it: the pretty damn large majority opinion on Bob Dylan among other musicians, people of his generation, the music press and so on is that he’s great. (Does this reflect on his voice, the original topic? I’d argue it’d be hard for his reputation to be what it is if the consensus was that he was a great lyric writer but his voice was barely listenable.)"

I simply could not have come up with a better line of argument that the Pro-Dylan faction is full of arrogant, condescending boors than this bit of writing. Whatever virtues I may have seen in Dylan, you've erased in toto! Do keep it up! Simply breathtaking!

"But especially since the majority probably includes good friends and loved ones and lovers, I ask again – why the urge to tear down? Not that it was you, but speaking to the type – why the spiteful compulsion to declare it to be “obvious” that Dylan can’t “sing worth a damn?”"

I've explained this, but you just won't listen to anyone who disagrees with "the facts." This urge is not spiteful, and I don't care what loved ones and lovers think on the topic! Your whole approach to Dylan insults those of us who disagree. The "phantom Dylan Mafia"? Right here, in many of the posts written here by the Pro-Dylan crowd. Hardly phantoms! They are simply not content to allow people to disagree with them without the slightest bit of understanding or respect for another person.

"put an effort into opening up your receptors?" Pretty laughable coming from someone who's done nothing of the sort from his very first post.