Electric Troubadour? Or
Folk Judas? Lucky man in the right place
at the right time? Or the most creative
genius to ever lend a hand to Rock ‘n’
Roll? This dog certainly leans the way
of immortal rock pioneer.
The Dylan legend was created in a burst
of creativity in the early sixties, which
saw the writing of many of his most famous
songs, from “Blowin In The Wind” via “Mr.
Tambourine Man” and “Just Like A Woman”
to “All Along The Watch Tower”.
Here in lies the answer to the questions:
Does he still matter? Can the man still
cut it? For what makes Dylan important
and unique, and so far above the inanity
of Paul McCartney or Mick Jagger’s gaucherie?
Is that he continues in his efforts to
bring meaningful expression from his life,
even as time rolls past. This year Dylan
reaches sixty. Will this be the end of
an era or the start of something new?
And such on going engagement is the sign
of a truly great artist. The ability to
change and change your audience is certainly
the mark of a leader.
His last studio album “Time Out Of Mind”
(1997) (He has been out on the road touring
incessantly since it’s release, finding
himself more at home on tour now than
he has ever been.) was a huge critical
success winning all the categories in
which he was nominated, including album
of the year at the 1998 Grammy’s. Not
bad for an old man, eh “Boyzone”.
Artistically Dylan is now at the top of
his game, playing with more vim and vigour
than has been shown for many a year. Then
again it is peculiarly misguided to treat
Dylan albums as one-off events. Listening
to his work is more like taking the Siberian
Express, where the scenery is sometimes
startling, sometimes rough, even shabby
occasionally, but most importantly always
demanding your attention. Most tracks
on “Time Out Of Mind” are as good as anything
Dylan has done before, and often surpassing
some of his slightly dodgy work in the
eighties. These songs in typical Dylan
style are restless, dissenting, wrathful,
lonely, but heartfelt in their effort
to drag a bit of reality out of feelings
created over the last six decades, in
his emotional way to add some truth out
of long experience.
Things have changed of course over the
years. These days on stage he dresses
eccentrically, a cross between a gentleman
dandy from Mississippi and a gun slinging
Texan cowboy dressed in black, he is less
the young poet and more like an old testament
prophet come down from the mountain to
cry out – in a voice as cracked as the
tablets which he throws to the ground
– the soothsayer of human affairs.
But the description that definitely still
does pertain to Dylan – as it always will
– is that of protest singer, the voice
of his subjects. Not in the narrow, liberal
– baby – boomer – turned – pillar – of
– society sense of complaining on behalf
good causes, but as a man who consistently
dissents from, disapproves of and inveighs
against this vulgar forlorn age in which
we live, Bob Dylan is an articulate man
whose proclamations on “Time Out Of Mind”
are worth hearing. As Dylan sings in “Not
Dark Yet” probably one of the most disturbing
songs on this collection.
“I was born here and I’ll die
here against my will
I know it looks like I’m moving
but I’m standing still.
Every nerve in my body is so vacant
I can’t even remember what it
was I came here to get away from
Don’t even hear a murmur of a
It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting
If that isn’t protest, then
Pawed by Mott The Dog
Remastered by Ella Crew