June 11, 2005

"Mr. Dylan has turned his act into one of the weirdest road shows in rock. "

From the NYT:
He rarely speaks to the crowd, and when he does, his remarks are often gnomic throwaways. ("I had a big brass bed, but I sold it!") He plays some of his best-known songs, but often in contrarian, almost unrecognizable versions, as if to dampen their anthemic qualities. He highlights recent compositions more than most of his 60's coevals, but these, too, are delivered as highly stylized, singsongy chants.
I think Bob Dylan has invented the best style of being an old rock star. Better than doing the big showy tours, reaching back, like the Rolling Stones, trying to recapture your glory, is this low-key, constant playing. It poses a fascinating puzzle for us.

Are you afraid of your real life? Are you completely bonded to art? Do you think you owe penance? What are you doing, Bob?

We know something is happening, but we don't know what it is. It's right that Bob Dylan should needle us to the very end.


twwren said...

"It's right that Bob Dylan should needle us to the very end."

Yeah, but I don't need to pay for it. I can get it free elsewhere.

Mark Daniels said...

I also think that by his seeming indifference to his status as a rock icon, Dylan can have it both ways. He can still be seen as being up there with the biggies like McCartney, the Stones, the Who, John Lennon, U2, and Springsteen. But he doesn't offend anyone by making overt plays for that status. It continues to be conferred on him without him becoming a cartoon of himself, like Elton John.

As always, Dylan displays a studied weirdness that keeps us guessing even when we strongly suspect it's all an act. Of course, it wouldn't mean a thing if he didn't really write great stuff.

(By the way, he first employed the sing-song defacements of his greatest songs, as far as I can remember, back during the Rolling Thunder Revue tour.)

One last point: I am always disappointed when established artists fail to do new material. It seems to me that the moment that artists fail to challenge themselves and their audiences with new material, they cease to be artists. Dylan is to be commended for remaining creative.

CraigC said...

Yeah, twwren, I saw him a few years ago with Phil Lesh, and was severely unimpressed. Along with all the other stuff that was mentioned, he insisted on doing electric solos that the kid in my first garage band could have done better.

Phil, on the other hand, was awesome. But then, when you have God on bass, Paul Barrere on guitar, and Bill Payne on keyboards, how can you not be awesome?

Ron said...

Why must we spin doctor Bob Dylan being a jerk? If a performer today did the same things, without being BOB DYLAN, we would rightly hoot him off the stage.

We owe Bob nothing less.

neo-neocon said...

What's gnomic about his remark about selling the big brass bed? Clearly, it's the one the lady used to lay across in "Lay Lady Lay."

Mark Daniels said...

You're right that Dylan is a jerk, Ron. Right along with most others who make it big in the music industry.

To note the particular ways in which he acts like a jerk and uses it as part of his schtick doesn't exonerate him. It just looks past the obvious and asks about the method behind his particular expression of rudeness.

Meade said...

"We know something is happening, but we don't know what it is. It's right that Bob Dylan should needle us to the very end"

says it all even better than the linked-to article.
Althouse at her best.

Ron said...

Mark: I meant a jerk above and beyond even standard music industry jerkiness...

Meade said...

Ann, you'll appreciate this: Dylan played the song New Morning tonight in Zebulon, North Carolina for the first time in thirteen years. It's being said that no one recognized until it was half over.

dax said...

lmeade - I caught the show at 5 County Stadium.
On a 1 to 10 I gave the show a 6. It was Ok but, I can asure you that it will be the last time I spend a dime to go see those guys.

Meade said...

dax: New Morning alone must have been worth the ticket price, no?