Today marks the birthday of a favourite artist of mine and one of David’s own musical idols: Bob Dylan. I know that I want to listen to, and focus on, his songs and little else today (well, look at the time, I guess I already have), and hope you can further indulge me.
I’d very much like to hear your submissions for his strongest lines (true, how long have you got? Better make that his angriest, funniest, loveliest, saddest, cleverest, etc.), the tracks that seem to end too soon and the most unrecognisable live versions of his songs (as performed by Bob himself, naturally). Feel free to share your concert memories, or a video that you want others to see. (Check out the 19 uploads to Sony Music Entertainment’s Bob Dylan channel on YouTube and allow me to suggest that you make your first selection a tight version of ‘Cold Irons Bound’.) Or add just about anything else you care to throw in, really. Yes, we can even speak of that slightly sinful up-tempo Mark Ronson remix; I think enough time has now passed.
Similarly controversially, did you make any sense of director Todd Haynes’ 2007 I’m Not There biopic? I have to admit, I couldn’t make head nor tail of it.
We once speculated as to which of Dylan’s tracks David could cover with most remarkable results – here – so do browse over the many excellent ideas and add yours, if you wish. Current thought: ‘It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue’ could be good.
Paste magazine’s 50 best cover versions is a decent read, knowing that many of you prefer Dylan’s songs as interpreted by others. (You’re forgiven, by the way.)
Just think: Bob Dylan has been able, for close to fifty years now, to make your spine tingle in response to the anger of ‘Idiot Wind’ or the hatred in ‘Masters of War’; to chuckle at the satire, if not length and supposed unsuitability of titles such as ‘Talking Bear Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues’; to sympathise with him as he describes the stop-start corkscrew-to-the-heart pain of separation that we’ve all felt at times but never summarised so perfectly. He’s written some quite beautiful love songs: ‘To Ramona’, once said to be David’s favourite, is a case in point. But he’s also been so deliciously cruel – just see the Washington Post‘s precise list of five Dylan ‘kiss-offs’ for a few choice cuts.
Whether unplugged or plugged in, whether a fan or not, you have to acknowledge the excellence in songs tinged by biting social commentary, an often tortured religious faith, the driest of wits, and enhanced further still by all those delightfully indistinct moments of characteristic, deliberate Bob vagueness. There’ll never be another like Bob Dylan. Well, be fair, who could even come close?
The chat, scheduled for today, will now take place tomorrow at the same time: 3pm (UK). I apologise for any inconvenience or irritation that this postponement may have caused you and hope to catch you tomorrow instead. I’ll still be saluting Bob tomorrow, as he deserves more than one day each year to be hailed. If I haven’t adequately expressed my admiration, I’ll close by adding that he’s the finest poet of the 20th century (for ‘A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall’ and ‘Gates of Eden’ alone), a genius arranger of words and the inspirational voice of not one generation, but of several. Tomorrow, perhaps, we can discuss these brazen statements further over a cyber-glass or two of Le Terrazze Planet Waves.
So, having heaped such open and sincere praise on the man, in descending numerical order, your 136 (or 142, if you prefer) favourite Bob Dylan songs are…?
I jest, but I will listen to mine, even if I cannot confidently put them in order.