Friday, October 14, 2016

"Something is happening, and you don't know what it is ... do you, Mr. Jones?"

The freakin' Nobel Prize -- seriously?

"What a year ..."
Needless to say, my admiration for Dylan is of the decidedly guarded variety.

Really, there are only two other options on the spectrum -- the unguarded variety, or lifelong dislike. I'm not in the latter camp -- but those unguarded types (like the ones who gave the award), man, I dunno. They're a little unhinged, a little . . .

"JUST the Nobel?! Why, he deserves ... uh, is there something bigger?"

. . . well, let's be frank: one wonders if they're entirely trustworthy.

A little like the object of their devotion.

Good luck trying to capture what makes the man The Man, but I'd say a worthy start is reviewing the 1992 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration in Madison Square Gardens.

That was one weird stew. Sinead O'Connor got booed off the stage, while Johnny Cash and June Carter bounced all over it like a couple of teenagers. Lou Reed sullenly crammed Dylan's 7/8 meter into a 4/4 rendering. Johnny Winter was so cranked it took him less than five minutes to rip through the entirety of Highway 61 -- twice. There were plenty of entrants that weren't nearly so jarring, of course. But the overall effect of the affair? Unsettling.

The proceedings gave all the adulation a big fat question mark, really, until The Man finally picked up his guitar, slouched over to the mic and sang, "It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)."

Now that seems at least somewhat definitive. The music without the man is, almost always, a wannabe effort.

And the words without the music are this close to nonsense.


Joel Swagman said...

>>The music without the man is, almost always, a wannabe effort.

Interesting. I frequently hear it said of Bob Dylan that, while he can write amazing lyrics, the covers of his songs are often superior to his own version.

You would disagree though?

Darrell Reimer said...

Yes - because the covers and the homages almost always "nail down" a quality to the song that may or may not be there. And Dylan frequently reinterprets his own work, almost always to baffling effect, as if he's telling listeners, "Maybe you don't really 'get' this." My suspicion is there is very little to "get" without his performance of his own work. (Which is why I side with Phil.)

Joel Swagman said...

I once read a quote (in Rolling Stone Magazine, I believe, somewhere around 2000ish) from one of the people who toured with Bob Dylan. He said something like "I love it when audience members try to sing along with Bob Dylan. He never does any song the same way twice, so you can't sing along with it."

This quote stuck in my mind, because I experienced it myself. I had seen Bob Dylan in concert 3 times by that point, and every time I tried to sing along to the songs, I just got thrown, because he kept changing the tempo and the rhythm of the lyrics.

But that said, I still think Manfred Mann's version of the Mighty Quinn is superior to Dylan's original

Darrell Reimer said...

"Manfred Mann" - hee! Have it your way, Joel. I wouldn't dream of countering that!