An Enigmatic Musical Genius, or a Grumpy Cunt? You Decide.
Just before Easter I went to see Bob Dylan at the Rod Laver Arena. I haven't been to an arena concert since Dire Straits in 1984. And quite an event it was. People were streaming through the heavy rain from all directions, bags were checked at the door and ushers with torches showed you the way to your seat. It was a far cry from the sticky carpet music venues I more often frequent, where barmen shove beers at you across a sodden beer mat and busboys push through dense crowds to collect discarded beer glasses, while some spotty kids skip around on stage belting out pretty much every song from their latest (and so far, only) album.
Dylan has been, in modern times (pardon the pun), much maligned when he plays live. There's always reviews pronouncing him too old, or too grumpy or that he can't sing. Sure, this is all true, but so what? Yes, he's the same age as my dad, but I don't see my dad rocking out on stage. And yes, he's kind of grumpy. But I think more than that, he's just Bob Dylan. He's not so much grumpy as an enigmatic musical genius who's always done things his own way. Sure you don't get exact replicas of his studio recordings. But if you want exact replicas of his studio recordings, you may as well sit in your loungeroom and listen to the studio recordings. No, he doesn't interact with the audience. But nobody ever said he's a great orator, a comic wit, or even particularly smart. I didn't go to hear him talk. He's a poetic rock and roller, and he was there to play his music.
Admittedly it was a trifle comical when he tried to hit few high notes. His voice has degraded to an enormous extent. I mean, he could never really sing in the first place, but that's not what he's all about. As Stephen Thomas Erlewine has said, Dylan's influence on popular music is incalculable. Seeing such a legend of modern music play Like a Rolling Stone, Ballad of a Thin Man, Highway 61, Desolation Row and Don't Think Twice it's Alright, was worth every cent of the $140 I paid for the worst seat in the house.
The cunt turns 70 on May 24. Give him a break.