McTavish: Dylan’s Work Ethic Feels Like Toil at Starlight

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4 Responses to McTavish: Dylan’s Work Ethic Feels Like Toil at Starlight

  1. Anonymous says:

    Brian, I’ve seen him four times, twice he was incredible (the show at the House of Blues in Atlanta during the Olympics was THE best he has ever been) and twice I walked away shaking my head. Too bad it’s the bad shows that you remember most. With Dylan, it’s caveat emptor anymore. Too bad.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Winston Apple
    While I understand what you’re saying and agree with you up to a point, I would just add that I went knowing what to expect and got what I expected. I did see a bit of whimsy in some of his expressions and some of the poses he struck, reminding me of his wonderful video for “Must Be Santa.” Impish behavior from a 69 year old man is endearing in my opinion.

    He clearly doesn’t need the money and continues to tour and perform because he wants to. The thing I respect most about Bob Dylan is that he has always pretty much done whatever he wants to musically speaking.

    And to close on a self-serving note: If you’d like to hear some updated versions of classic Dylan songs, sung by a singer who has not blown out his voice, I recommend “Alias: Zimmerman! (Apple Sings Dylan” by me.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Steve Wilson
    Brian: There is much that’s inarguable in your description of this latest trip to Kansas City for Dylan, I’m sure. I wasn’t there. I haven’t seen Bob in about eight on nine years. While I suspect that I would find much to enjoy (still), I confess that I haven’t found attendance compelling.

    Given his weathered pipes and aesthetic proclivities in his Sixties, I continue to enjoy his recordings. I think “Time Out of Mind” and “Love and Theft” have some remarkable material, worthy of the elder bard.

    Given your experience (specifically and generally) I can’t fault your analysis except on two central points. The first is simple and perhaps not so significant, but I would be pained to reduce Dylan’s idiom or accomplishment to ‘folk rock.’ I’ll leave PBS fund raising to such reductionist speak. My second point, to my way of thinking, is more important. Whether or not Dylan could succeed now or have succeeded ever on ‘American Idol’ is an absurd concern. Dylan’s groundbreaking achievement was to liberate pop singing from the Mitch Miller mode of polite formalityy. Actually, he brought the wild and woolly world of Harry Smith to the mainstream and then transcended that by making his own Shakespearean stamp on the art of his time.

    ‘American Idol’s’ version of what constitutes a good singer reduces everything to high school talent show standards and ninety second soundbites. It may be a major cultural phenomenon, but it has squat all to do with art.

    Finally, as someone who’s sung a bit in his day, my first response to someone who naively suggests that Dylan can’t (or couldn’t) sing is simple: You have a crack at “Jokerman.”

    I have had to confront my own misgivings about Dylan much in the same way you have, though, when I think about introducing his performance idiom to my kids. I confess that the Dylan you just saw may not be the best representation of his art and career. So, with you there.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Hannah ShuShu

    I am confused as to why anyone would be expecting a great VOCAL performance from Bob Dylan at this concert. You insult him for “horribly gravelly” vocals….have you not heard any of his albums in the past 20 years?? His voice has been that way for awhile now. Nothing to get shocked about.

    The thing about Bob Dylan is NOT his voice, even with it’s great emotional quality. His songwriting is impeccable and has stood the test of time. He is a poet, that happens to be able to put great melodies behind his words. THAT is why people love Bob Dylan.

    I was AT this concert that you picked apart mercilessly, and it was nothing short of fantastic. Was his singing flawless and smooth? No. If it had been, I would’ve been shocked, because that is NOT the Bob Dylan I have come to love. Did he talk to the crowd? No. I didn’t expect him to. I didn’t go there to hear him make worthless small talk with the crowd, I went to see him perform. Did he play alot of bar-room blues? Yes. And it was great. He didn’t play most of my favorite songs, but I didn’t care. He played what HE wanted to play, which is really what it’s about to most musicians. And I loved it, whether it was perfect or not. It was REAL.

    And if you want American Idol quality, you most definately went to the wrong place. Bob couldn’t sink so low as that.

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