Thursday, February 26, 2009

More on Bob Dylan

Click on the title for a link to another excellent web site about Bob Dylan's music.The author, George Starostin, gives detailed reviews of most of Dylan's albums in a "no holds barred" style. I don't agree with everything he says but he is fun to read.

Unfortunately, people seem to be divided in two major groups here: those that "get" his singing and those that don't - or, to put it more politely, his singing "gets" to group A and doesn't "get" to group B. The first group (which includes your humble servant) thinks he's a great singer, highly emotional and in a class of his own, using his vocal cords as a peculiar musical instrument all the time. The second group either thinks he's talentless or, at the very best, that his songs always sounded better when sung by other performers. And practically nothing can change the opinions of either, and I do mean nothing - I've held numerous battles defending poor Mr Zimmerman from those who say they'd better go listen to their toilet flushing than put on a Dylan record. Whatever. I guess this has something to do with your genes after all. Nevertheless, it is always better to 'get' something than 'not to get' it (this is my primary belief about art: always try to like it), so I say that if you don't 'get' Dylan there must be something wrong with your genes. Now feel free to flame me.


some people complain about the utter nonsense and incomprehensibility of his lyrics, but somehow people often forget that lyrics are not prose: you do not go around 'understanding' lyrics like you 'understand' prose. Much more often than not, Dylan's lyrics just convey a mood, a general feeling, maybe a vague idea, and an endless stream of entertaining, intriguing, and sometimes downright hilarious wordgames.

Yes, could have been an as***le (my edit)in real life, cheating on his friends, verbally destroying people that venerated him, etc., etc., but the day we start caring for great art based on the personal life of its creator is the day art will come to an end. What often escapes the listener and the reviewer is that the "musical Dylan" is really a small humble guy. He was never a big commercial star, with just about a handful of chart-topping LPs (most of which came in the Seventies, way past his peak hour). He never really cared for commercial success: maybe he didn't really shun it, but he always made clear that his primary aim in this world was not making money or scr***** chicks,(my edit) and success never really got to his head. He only went for a slight commercialization of his sound in the Eighties, making the fatal mistake of incorporating disco elements in his music; but he's come back with a bang since then, and if only his poor health won't fail him, we may yet hear a significant word or two from Robert. He wrote songs that hardly ever made you stand up and shake your hips or sing along to some sentimental romantic melody; instead, these songs went straight into the very depths of your soul and spoke to you on a personal, intimate level - a thing that neither the Beatles nor the Rolling Stones, as much as I love them, could never pull off.

The proof is that whenever I listen carefully to a Dylan song or try to sing along to it, I always end up putting myself in Bob's place and trying to feel the things he felt. It's amazing how such simplistic songs as 'Mr Tambourine Man' or 'Gates Of Eden' or 'Stuck Inside The Mobile' can get under your skin and change your life forever. This, of course, is only possible if you manage to get rid of the shackles of conventional singing and conventional songwriting - I sure did, and I'm both glad and proud about that. You really gotta live up to the good sides of Bob Dylan. You have to take the presumably 'bad' sides as a given fact even before you start listening to the first Dylan song in your life. You just have to concentrate on other things, ya know? Now on to the reviews before I start talking metaphysical.

Again click on the title for colorful reviews of most of Bob Dylan's albums.