Wednesday, February 17, 2010

#18 The one, the only, Bob Dylan

If you have never heard of Bob Dylan you should probably just go back to the moon or wherever you have been hiding over the last fifty years. Bob Dylan, often called the Father of Folk Rock, is generally recognized as one of the top 3 American writers of all time and named as the top solo musician in Rock History. His performing career spans over five decades and his discography extends from the early sixties and contains over 30 albums and counting. Artists like John Lennon, Paul McCartney, David Bowie and Tom Waits have publicly stated that Dylan has profoundly affected his career. There are universities in the USA that teach degree programs in Dylanology. In 2008 the Pulitzer Prize committee invented a prize just for Dylan for what they called his 'profound impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power.'The man is one of the greatest rock icons of all time--even if you aren't much of a fan you can't really deny that.

I am going to write a different sort of article on Bob because there are books that could fill a room on him and I don't have a degree in Dylanology.

I first started getting into Bob Dylan when I was about 13. I was watching the new documentary series 'The Beatles Anthology' (a fantastic series by the way) and I saw a segment where the Beatles professed how much they loved the music of Dylan and how much he influenced them early on. That influence is clearly felt on albums like 'Help' ("Hide Your Love Away") and Rubber Soul ("Norwegian Wood"). Getting this kind of high praise from the Beatles was more then enough motivation for me to start checking out Dylan's work. I started out right from the beginning with his self titled debut album from 1962; he had already been touring the coffee house scenes for over 3 years at the time of the record's release. From there I dove in hungrily with albums like 'The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan' (1963) and 'Highway 61 Revisited' (1965). Those are two of my favorite albums in all of music. The lyrics are amazing! If you took away the music the songs would stand alone as beautiful poetry. After getting into those two albums I was hooked and have loved Dylan since.

I first got to see Dylan in 2007 in Victoria, BC. This was in the middle of his Modern Times tour. The show was brilliant and Dylan was in top form that night, belting out classics such as "Maggie's Farm" and, one of my personal faves, "Don't Think Twice It's Alright". It blew my mind and has totally solidified me as a Dylan fan.

In October of 2008 I got to see him again in Victoria, BC and this time I got to meet him in person! I was working as a medic at the Save On Foods Arena and I figured the chance at meeting Dylan was well worth the risk of being fired so I snuck backstage and managed to introduce myself to him. I got to talk to him for a few minutes which mostly consisted of me trying to refrain from shouting out "I'M NOT WORTHY!". He asked me if my name was connected to Peter Tosh and I told him how my parents were huge reggae music fans. I made a quick exit soon after thanking him immensely for the opportunity to meet him and his staff gave me a sweet pin with the tour insignia on it that I still wear on my jacket to this day. In person Dylan seemed like a really down to earth guy for the most part. I was actually a bit surprised by that, seeing as the man is a living legend.

What really surprised me was that a lot of people walked out halfway through the show. The local rag (Times Colonist) gave the show a horrible review saying how bad Dylan sounded and that he should stop touring as he doesn't have what he used to. I haven't read anything in that paper in years and have sent them many letters stating that I think their music reviewer should be fired for incompetence--Bob Dylan gets a crap review but Def Lepporard or Cher or Brian Addams get glowing reviews? Clearly this man is going to Rock and Roll Hell for that one. Give me a break people, that show was dynamite! Bob was in top form and the backing band rocked the house down. The only people that were disappointed were those that showed up somehow expecting the 25 year old version of Dylan to hit the stage..... Well maybe after that miracle he would have introduced John Lennon back from the dead for a one-night-only duet. Personally, I love the fact that he can mix things up and perform the songs differently all the time. How boring would it be for him to do his old songs exactly the same for over 40 years? To those who said "boo hoo he didnt play the guitar?": who cares?! He is a singer above all and he sung every song that night. Its not like seeing a Jimi Hendrix concert and having Jimi play piano all night.
If nothing else, this concert was WELL worth the fifty dollar price of admission just for his awesome version of "Stuck Inside of Mobile".

The Facts:
-Bob was born Robert Allen Zimmerman.
-He has toured almost continuously since 1980 in what is commonly referred to as "The Never Ending Tour".
-Bob has won 11 Grammys, an Oscar, a Golden Globe, a Pulitzer and a score of other awards including two Honorary Doctorates of Music
-Bob was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988.
-His son Jakob went on to form the band The Wallflowers and is perhaps the most successful of any rock star's offspring.

My Fave Album:
-My fave Bob Dylan album changes all the time. Lately, it has been 1975's Blood On The Tracks. It was his 15th album and was partially recorded back in Dylan's home in Minnesota. The record is a bit darker then usual with the lyrics mostly revolving around heartache, anger, and loneliness. Dylan has rarely commented on this album but it is said by Dylan researchers that the songs came from his personal troubles at the time, such as the separation from his wife Sara. It is an amazing record and has some of Dylan's best work on it including: "Simple Twist of Fate", "Shelter from the Storm" and "Tangled up in Blue". This really is one of those albums that is solid gold from start to finish. I can't say enough good stuff about how much I dig this album. If you haven't dug it yet, then I highly suggest you go out and do so.

I love this early music video from 1965 for "Subterranean Homesick Blues":


Anonymous said...

Love this video, one of my all time favs..I have seen Dylan 3 times, and I have to agree with your comments on the reviews..they obviously don't know real music..Dylan has always been and continues to be, one of my all time musical heroes. Well done Tosho

Anonymous said...

Nice job, Tosh! I've seen Dylan 6 times(including the 2 shows you saw). Worth seeing everytime!!!!

Anonymous said...

I had to double check, but you may want to adjust the album total. He's actually up over 60 of them with the compilations and live ones. WOW Go Bob Go!!

Tosho said...

yes with compilations, I was meaning just original studio works