Friday, May 23, 2008

A Tribute to Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan-A Friend of Mine Part I by Shaun Everitt

Never have rules mattered so little, have so many boundaries been overcome, has such a lonely furrow been ploughed as with the incomparable Bob Dylan. Lyrically prophetic, musically dynamic and incredibly prolific, Bob Dylan never bows to fads or fashions, never strays from his own private path and never lets anybody into his poetic mind. He leaves us to muse over his storybook lyrics, trying to extract meaning and message, whilst he tips his hat, gives a small smile and retreats back to his mysterious world to deliver another small piece of genius to us. He doesn’t court publicity, he doesn’t crave fame, he believes he is like the rest of us, only a pawn in their game. Bob Dylan doesn’t pretend he has the answers, he doesn’t act like a savior, he is just trying to make his own way in the world, he just happens to be a living legend, that is all.

For over forty years, Bob Dylan has been making albums. From 1966’s Blonde on Blonde, to his latest album, Modern Times, his vigor has never waned. It would be possible to interchange any song from these albums because Bob Dylan doesn’t change. He is like the tide, it wouldn’t matter if we were here or not, it would still go in and out, and Bob Dylan would still write his music. Bob Dylan can’t make a bad album because he defines what is good and what isn’t. He can’t hit a bum note or make a duff rhyme for one simple reason, Bob Dylan is a law unto himself. If Bob Dylan writes a song, it’s because it means something, not that he’d ever tell you what that is, he doesn’t work to a timetable. If Bob Dylan has 8 songs, he’ll release an album with 8 songs on, or wait until he has 10. He won’t release substandard material, he won’t waste words. Yet Bob Dylan songs aren’t like you might expect, for a man who says little in the public eye, his songs are sprawling vistas of rich colourful lyrics. His storybook style begs you to believe every word is true, and owing to the mystery of the man, they could well be.

The thing about Bob Dylan is that he’s every bit as relevant as he was forty years ago. This article has so far avoided clich├ęs and the author is well aware that this is such but Bob is different. Bob Dylan isn’t telling us about the trials of youth or the tribulations of love, he doesn’t want to tell you how to feel. His songs are like an arm around the shoulder, to let you know that he has been there and that he ‘feels you brother’. Some would argue that Bob Dylan has never been relevant, obviously the author disagrees with this but owing to the sense that Bob has always been the same, he must be just as irrelevant now as he was in the sixties (sic).

Situated somewhere between the dream world and the waking one, Bobs songs are a buffer, they stop you despairing, an airbag against the confusion and injustice in the world. Some people (mainly acid fried hippies and the sensationalist media) thought that Bob was like a messiah. They were convinced that he knew the truth, that somehow he was holding it all back and that he was selfish for doing so. But Bob Dylan isn’t a messiah, he isn’t even a saint, I bet he doesn’t even wash every day, he isn’t perfect. But his interpretation of the world is such that you can almost believe he is from a higher place. Romantic tragedy is his forte, tales of the underdog, victories in unlikely places and trials of the soul are what he knows.

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