Sean Maher's Quality Control

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Bob Dylan: Yeah, I'm about 40 years behind

Well, it's finally happened.

I'm getting into Dylan.

See, every time I've been really exposed to his music in the past, the context hasn't really been right. Growing up in and around San Francisco, I've gotten really fed up with the New Hippies, all those goddamn 18-year-old white kids hanging out at the touristy bits of Haight Street and asking for money, with jewelried piercings by the dozen and leather jackets and steel-toed boots and lots of other stuff I can't afford. Head down to the college campus and there's a few hundred more, living in the campus housing on their parents' nickel while they talk about the Evils of Money and spend their allowance on pot and stereo systems on which they blast... Bob Dylan.

So every time I've really heard his music, I've had really annoying people on my mind. He's used left and right to represent the sixties in pitiful throwback movies trying to capture the True Spirit of the Movement. Given that my experience with most people who were hippies in the 60's has been pretty poor (they tend to have either completely ruined their lives or else become passive-aggressive yuppie shitheads), I don't really have any lost love for the romance of that decade. So a lot of the Dylan love has left me rolling my eyes.

Don't get me wrong, I've enjoyed the odd Dylan song here and there; I've owned his first, self-titled album for a few years now, 'cause I really dig his cover of "House of the Rising Sun," and Johnny Cash's cover of "It Ain't Me, Babe" (in duet with his wife, June Carter Cash) made me a fan of the song. But he never hit me with the lightning bolt, y'know?

But the other day, I went walking through Golden Gate Park (man, I love living so close) with the iPod I got Molly for her birthday (ha ha, she left it home!) and listening to the Greatest Hits album she bought. I'm all by myself, middle of a sunny day tromping through the eucalyptus trees, and suddenly I realize:

All by itself, "Blowin' In The Wind" is a really great goddamn song. If there's no goddamn campfire kumbaya bullshit coming along with it, that's one beautiful, well-written number.

And here I always thought it was a cliche.

So yesterday I went to Amoeba and picked up The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan. (I think I'm gonna go chronologically with this.) I'm really diggin' it. My favorite track, at least for the moment, is "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall". Nice combination there between the intimate, affectionate bookend lyrics to each verse and the headier, more visual and abstract lyrics he uses to fill in the middle.

Also, reading through the liner notes, I found this quote that grabbed my attention:

What made the real blues singers so great is that they were able to state all the problems they had; but at the same time, they were standing outside them and could look at them. And in that way, they had them beat. What's depressing today is that many young singers are trying to get inside the blues, forgetting that those older singers used them to get outside their troubles.

Thought that was pretty cool.

So, that's what I'm excited about today. Music, not comics. It's all right; new comics day is tomorrow, so I'm sure I'll get the blood flowing again.


  • At 7:41 AM, Blogger Jim said…

    It's OK to get into Dylan late, as he is awesome. I've only been listening to him for the last 4-5 years or so. It's a good idea to go chronologically, as the early stuff is badass. Blood On The Tracks is my personal fave, but it's hard to choose! You should watch Don't Look Back as well, as it documents some of the early years.

    You're aware of No Direction Home, the upcoming Scorcese-helmed PBS / DVD / doc slash CD slash Starbucks-exclusive live disc, right? I'm happily lapping it up.

  • At 12:05 PM, Blogger Sean Maher said…

    Yeah, I can't wait for "No Direction Home". And it's put together by Scorsese?

    Pretty damn wicked.

    I think I remember seeing parts of Don't Look Back with a Dylan-crazed roommate a while back and Dylan was acting like a horse's ass the whole time, like he was letting everything go to his head and acting like a bigshot.

    Pretty sure Blood on the Tracks is my old roomies' favorite as well.

  • At 7:31 PM, Blogger Fialkov said…

    I hated Dylan up until I had a roommate in college who forced me to listen to him. Slowly but surely, i feel in love.

    Go check out all of the 'country era albums' they're far and away my favorite Dylan albums. "New Morning," "Nashville Skyline," and "John Wesley Harding" will blow your mind.

  • At 8:59 PM, Blogger Lefty said…

    You MUST pick up Blood On The Tracks. That record turned my into a Dylan-head.

    Welcome to the club.

    One of us! One of us!

  • At 12:56 AM, Blogger Disintegrating Clone said…

    "Blood on the Tracks". Buy it.

  • At 4:55 PM, Blogger Mo Soar said…

    You could just briefly trade bodies and memories with Larry Young. That'll kick you out of the nostalgia trip. Right quick.


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