The 35th album of the most overestimated recording artist in existence. Reviewers fall over each other to praise its dark lyrics and brooding American traditionalism. All I hear is simplicity and repeated tunes. Endlessly the same, on music that answers itself every time: the line goes up, and then comes down. Only to go up again and repeat the pattern. And that in a raspy voice that is reminiscent of Tom Waits, but without any real quality. Yes, buying this record was a mistake.
Enough with the rant. Robert Allen Zimmerman was born in Minnesota in 1941. At just 22 years old he wrote Blowin’ in the wind and The times they are a-changing, and created the soundtrack of a generation. These songs became symbols of the civil rights movement, and of the protests against America’s involvement in the war in Vietnam. He was the most famous protest singer at that moment.
What followed was 60 years of touring and recording new albums. Of course he went through changes, and most of those were not appreciated by his fans. Three years into his career he decided to use an amplified backing band: ‘to go electric’. On one of his live performances, later published as the bootleg series, one can hear a crazed fan shouting Judas because of it. Feelings ran high. During the Seventies Dylan became a Christian and was singing evangelical songs. He went through phases, so much is clear.
While I’m writing this, I’m listening to jazz singer Lizz Wright. She recorded a version of the song Every grain of sand. I like that song, and I realised I knew it already in the version by Emmylou Harris. Reading up on Dylan’s story, I saw it is a song by him. This illustrates for me Dylan is everywhere. He has written so much material, it is staggering. 40 albums, and at 82 there is still no end to it. I do respect that, even though I still think he is overestimated.