Re: [ANTI-BITS] (more of a flame really) Dylan/Grammy Award

I'm not a real doofus, but I play one at the Grammys. (
Thu, 26 Feb 1998 14:19:19 -0600

> At the risk of alienating the Dylan fans on the list

I don't think it's possible to alienate this Dylan fan, who's already such an
alien anyway.

> I've just *got* to ask... What do people see in [Bob] Dylan?

See? Someone who has an impressive amount of stamina for his age. Hear? Not
much charming on the Grammy show, but that pretty much was in keeping with the
evening. (He said cynically. ;-)

Hmmm. So, what, am I the only true blue fan here today? Where to start, where
to start ...

> his song sounded like hell -- the music sucked,

So, what's your point?

I've never seen Dylan in concert (except for a few brief things on TV), so I
cannot say for certain, but given the combination of last night's live
performance and the Best Album Grammy (haven't heard the album yet, either, but
I'll eventually buy it), he's much better in the studio vs. live. This would
be the opposite of Clapton, IMHO of course, who is far better live than in the
studio, a few Cream albums notwithstanding.

But, I digress. Being an old codger, I don't go to concerts much at all
anymore, but if I do, Dylan's would be toward the top of my list, even with
his failing voice, if only for nostalgia reasons. Kind of like the Stones.
(He said, continuing his cynicism. ;-)

Music, like flavor, is quintessentially subjective, so there will always be
people who can't stand Sara Lee. And even though Dylan's poetry cuts an
enormously wide emotional swath, it won't touch everyone. But even when he's
speaking of situations and places I'll never encounter, I find his songs to be
like reading an engaging, exotic, novel. To wit, some favorite lines from
Tangled Up In Blue (Blood On The Tracks):

She lit a burner on the stove, and offered me a pipe.

My new range is a really swell sealed-top Ceran-glass electric. It's almost as
fast and responsive as gas. But it's nothing like this. It cooks very nicely,
but it evokes nothing. These lyrics evoke images that run from watching my mom
light the stove when I was very young, to shadows of scenes from many books and
movies, to imaginary encounters that float through my head.

She opened up a book of poems and handed it to me
Written by an Italian poet from the 15th Century (or was it 13th?)
And every one of them words rang true and glowed like burning coal
Pouring off of every page like it was written in my soul
From me to you, tangled up in blue.

I've never had this experience, but I can dream, can't I?

Dylan's range (poetic, not cooking) appeals to me. And his humor and cynicism.
And the way he'll take a grand theme and bring it down-to-earth, like in What
Good Am I (Oh Mercy):

What good am I if I'm like all the rest
If I just turn away when I see how you're dressed

This starts out sounding like something from the New Testament (James, in
particular). It could be high-minded, abstract, "Duty, Honor, Country",
shelter-the-homeless stuff. A few seconds later, it's on an entirely different

What good am I while you softly weep
And I hear in my head what you say in your sleep

Suddenly, loving your neighbor as yourself is thrown into sharp relief -- Love
your wife as yourself. Throw in a twist of irony, to top it off:

If my hands are tied, must I not wonder within
Who tied them and why, and where must I have been?

It's a rare talent that can write songs using words like Botticelli and
Ashtbula, and then come up with *LAY*, Lady, *LAY*. If what bothers you about
him is his voice, which never was aria caliber, I understand that. Neither is
Leon Redbone's, or Robert Plant's, or a thousand others. But he almost always
sings on key, and with dead-on timing. If you don't like harmonica, that's
fine too. For me, it's part and parcel.

> From what I've heard, most connosseurs prefer Dylan sung by other people.

Perhaps, but we conno*i*sseurs prefer our Dylan straight up.

> He hasn't been able to do live performances for 15 years.
> Be very thankful that Janis Joplin, Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly and the
> Big Whopper are dead, dead, dead.

Sheesh, I thought I was being cynical! Haven't you learned about killfiles?
You don't have to go to a (bad) concert. You don't even have to buy albums by
the great washed-up. Unless you live in under socialist regimes that take your
hard-earned pfennigs by force to subsidize the princes known as former artists.

Sorry if I sound cranky and less coherent than usual (notice I don't say
normal). I've got too much work to do.


If tomorrow wasn't such a long time
Then lonesome would mean nothing to you at all