Skip to content

Bob, Briefly

Saw Bob Dylan at the Beacon on Saturday night. I’ve written about him here before, several times. This probably should have been a Bob Dylan blog — exclusively — from the start. Could have avoided a lot of pretentious rambling in favor of more select pretentious rambling. Like Allen Ginsberg in the Dylan doc “Long Way Home”: “I heard ‘A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall’, I think, and I wept .. because it seemed the torch had been passed to another generation.” It’s his emphatic pause on “wept” that’s really cringe-worthy. Not that there’s anything wrong with music evoking strong reaction; it’s just that nobody’s slant, least of all mine, is necessary when it comes to Dylan. So I’ll skip to Jon Pareles’ take on Bob in the present, observing it’s no nostalgic oldies show and that he concentrates on his stuff from the late 90s forward:

Mr. Dylan has every right to not look back. The songs he has released since his mid-50s are powerful, mysterious, down-home jeremiads with bitter bravado and backhanded humor. Mortality, social collapse, disaster, betrayal and the wreckage of love are sketched over Chicago blues, old-timey picking and honky-tonk country. Mr. Dylan has replaced the fluidity and arrogance of youth with a more genuine, lived-in sense that he has nothing to lose and no one but himself to please. He doesn’t soften what he sees; he inhabits it, baleful and acute.

In case the “Mr Dylan” stuff or superior prose isn’t a giveaway, Pareles writes for the New York Times. I’d use my own words but it would only be a less eloquent transcription. This is the Bob Dylan I’ve followed, and saw on Saturday night, nailing ‘Love Sick’ just before the intermission. “I’m sick of love / but I’m in the thick of it” .. spare, pointed, and unflinching. Economically whimsical with “Soon After Midnight”: “I’m searching for phrases / to sing your praises.” Early Roman kings, in their “sharkskin suits, bow ties and buttons, high top boots .. drivin’ the spikes in, blazin’ the rails, nailed in their coffins in top hats and tails.” How’s that sit with you, Allen Ginsberg? He stands center stage most of the show in a cream colored suit with dark stripes down each pant leg and a wide-brimmed  hat. The only words besides lyrics came at the intermission: “Why thank you .. we’ll be back shortly.” The other point of note is that his voice sounded better than I’d ever heard it; rasped and barking on some of the ‘Tempest’ tunes but downright melodic, by Bob standards, on “Forgetful Heart.”

Nothing that Mr Pareles didn’t write better in his review. I’ve included the link above, so give it a read.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *