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Music Blog

Missed Masterpieces: Bob Dylan

by Lane Heaps
- Posted // 2011-05-24 - "Look on his works, ye mighty and despair. After 40 years on the job, Bob Dylan still makes all singer-songwriters sound like scared kittens, and in terms of sheer volume, he’s built the body of work worth listening to in Rock and Roll. He’s the American song-and-dance man, mixing folk, beat poetry, Chuck Berry, Texas Medicine, railroad gin, and his own psychedelic mutations of the blues, singing it all in that intense Book-of-Deuteronomy howl of his."

Yeah, I stole that first paragraph from the 2004 Rolling Stone Record Guide, but it’s just too damned good not to share. In fact, even Dylan’s album names are art themselves: Highway 61 Revisited, Blonde on Blonde, John Wesley Harding, Nashville Skyline, Blood on the Tracks.

But my favorite Dylan albums are actually his two later albums, Love and Theft (2001) and Modern Love (2006), where his voice has actually caught up with his songwriting. Dylan really needed 40 years of smoking and drinking for his voice to equal his song writing.

I have a very addictive personality, as you may know. Alcohol and tobacco have been friends of mine for decades. But my biggest addiction is probably reading—20 to 30 books a year for 35 years, and subscriptions to Esquire, Spin, Interview, and Rolling Stone.

Rolling Stone magazine's current issue features Dylan’s "70 Greatest Songs," because he’s turning 70 years old today. 70 FUCKING GREATEST SONGS … CONSIDER THAT FOR A MINUTE! If you don’t find that as mind-blowing as I do (to say nothing of how many rockers even reach that age), you don’t listen to very much music.

He’s the Great American Hope, who competes with the Stones, Beatles, and Who.

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Posted // May 26,2011 at 07:53

A couple of weeks ago I had a reader say, "You're a great writer, but a shitty emailer." There are are two reasons for that. First: my blog is my art, therefore, I check it three or four times. Second, I have an editor to save my ass. I think as far as emails go, if you get my point, that's all I care about.


Posted // May 24,2011 at 13:45

Yeah I fuck-up on the of his 2006 album, no doubt, I should have looked at it but I'm a lazy ass. It took me many years to get Dylan, but I'm very glad I did. Lane


Posted // May 24,2011 at 13:22

Good Article. The name of that 2006 Dylan album you refer to as Modern Love is actually Modern Times.


Posted // May 24,2011 at 12:32

Hey Justin...Go back to listening to your Van Halen records and we'll call you when we need you.


Posted // May 24,2011 at 11:42

I listen to a lot of music, and have listened intensively for about 24 years. I have never been able to get into Bob Dylan. Maybe it's the voice. Maybe it was growing up in the 80s in the era of non-stop, self-congratulatory, baby-boomer 1960s nostalgia. Maybe it's predictable song structures, chord changes, and all the metaphors and imagery which have been so overused since he first brought them out that now they seem trite when he uses them himself.

I always got the sense that Dylan was one of those artists whom you're just supposed to acknowledge as a genius and a brilliant musician, and never ask any questions.

I suspect that Bob Dylan will eventually become one of those "You had to be there" experiences. He was clearly innovative for his time, in the mid to late 1960s. But objectively, in 2011, when you remove the artist from his era, his work has been surpassed by other musicians with better voices, better skill with their instruments, and better songwriting. Of course, you can't say that in certain company. To the true believers, the apatheosis of Bob Dylan is unassailable.