Call for Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

 
Music
Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA

While Everyman races toward achievements and breaks his back to keep up with the Joneses, the great troubadour of our time imparts divined wisdom in a quote that goes beyond simply being against the grain: “A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do.” A dictum that encapsulates the breadth of the Bob Dylan show, that kind of straight-talking has kept fans and critics alike at the edge of their seats for decades. Is it any wonder, then, that at a time when fundamental truths, which to live by couldn’t be harder a-comin’, what lies inside the sheath of our yearning is more Bob Dylan?


It was an eye-opener having had the opportunity to follow what seemed to be another Never Ending Tour in the United States. Certainly there’s an artist for every fan, but what one finds in a Bob Dylan enthusiast is perhaps as extraordinary as The Man’s trajectory. And that, I’m afraid, can be as easily characterized as Bob Dylan himself. Just when you think you’ve got him pegged and call it a comeback, Modern Times belts out themes, such as “Ain’t Talkin’”, resurrecting
once again a “heart burnin’ / still yearnin’ / carrying a dead man’s shield.”


Bob Dylan managed to set his own terms with his breakout album back in ’62. While his eccentric style has evolved to raspier intonations and his voice tends to flounder, and while he chooses not talk to the audience, Baby Boomers fill a ball field in New Britain, CT with strollers in tote, warding off a slow and steady rain to reminisce the good ‘ol days, notwithstanding. Aficionados take their seat at the NYC Center, the last of the Modern Times tour, and drink him like a post-dinner aperitif.


Everyman seeks the hero within himself and sometimes that hero gets his shot through a song-and-dance man’s subjectivity. Fast forward two years later, and one Jack Frost materializes with another hard-hitter, Together Through Life, debuting at number one in Britain and the US, only to trot back in months later with the biggest head-scratcher yet, sentimentally yours, Christmas in the Heart.


If you didn’t catch on to the Dylan invasion, then you most definitely would’ve at the Hollywood Palladium in October, 2009, I’m sure. There, silver-haired hippies, drunk with entitlement, may have given you the business for not giving them the proper red-carpet treatment, and may or may not have hissed at you for being an amateur. You’d be gladder, still, begging someone to pinch you, lest it was a mirage before you onstage: Mr. Bobby D. doing a shoulder poppin’, hip gyratin’ languid dance for “Twiddle Dee & Tweedle Dum”. In a Sahara industry thirsty for authenticity, a sphinx-like image stands apart.


Now in his 60’s, while we’d expect him to sit back on his merits, Bob Dylan is peaking and lauded as an icon of youthful rebellion and poetic sensitivity by President Obama. You know you’ve made it when you are a no-show to receive praise from the leader of the Free World.


While stalwarts vie for who’s the real Bob Dylan fan, 20-something hipsters and teenyboppers going ballistic to lyrics meant for another era have a more prescient say. They portend in Dylanesque wit, they were his fans before he was Bob Dylan.


Val Strange writes about Larry-David moments and people with Boeotian tendencies sometimes referred to as present day intellentia. Her essays appear in Alternet, Counterpunch, Huffington Post, among others. She lives in Los Angeles.


Tagged as: bob dylan
Related Articles
17 Oct 2014
Well, I remember seein’ some ad so I turned on my Conelrad but I didn’t pay my Con Ed bill so the radio didn’t work so well. Turned on my record player—it was the 929th most acclaimed album of all time. Dylan's 1963 breakthrough is this week's Counterbalance.
By Ian Bell
16 Oct 2014
Ian Bell explores Dylan's unparalleled second act in a quintessentially American career. It's a tale of redemption, of an act of creative will against the odds, and of a writer who refused to fade away.
By PopMatters Staff
5 Oct 2014
PopMatters' picks for the best albums of the 2000s begins with a series of albums that spans epic metal, ornate indie folk, and a terrifying work of electronic music.
26 Aug 2014
The Dylanologists doesn't give up any answers about Dylan, but it does ask the right questions of people, on the trail through Dylan's America.
discussion by

Comments
Now on PopMatters
PM Picks
Announcements

© 1999-2014 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters.com™ and PopMatters™ are trademarks
of PopMatters Media, Inc.

PopMatters is wholly independently owned and operated.