Monday, October 30, 2006

Dylan Sunday - Theme Time Radio #18-19

Bob Dylan, Theme Time Radio Hour #18 (Radio)

Bob Dylan, Theme Time Radio Hour #19 (Bible)

Busy day here at Pound for Pound, here's a little Dylan for the cherry on top. It's funny, as these posts sort of became more ritual than anything in the middle, popular and a good chance to spread some music not easily available. But, the more I listen to more I enjoy them. The initial thrill of hearing Dylan on radio has long since passed, but now the deeper enjoyment has set in as you get to learn a little bit more about Dylan and hear his wit and knowledge about music.

Which leads me to the random thoughts that came fromn hearing these shows, the first one in particular. Almost all of the songs on the Theme Time Radio Hour #18 deal with the magic of radio and how great it was as a means to hear music. All I could think was how things have changed. I mean, I never listen to the radio anymore and most certainly don't look to it as a source for new sounds. Can you remember the last time you listened to the radio as something other than background noise? Besides Howard Stern? I mean, I love my pop music and Mariah and Brittany and Ludacris, but they play new singles every half hour and even they become background.

But, I don't accept Dylan's (and Peter Wolf during his interview) nostalgia, as it misses the point. Radio isn't a fertile medium today, but it doesn't need to be. Yeah, I wish that I still waited all week to hear the Friday night Power 99 set that had all the great hip-hop that didn't make it on the regular rotation, or the Grateful Dead Hour on XPN, or even the college stations like PRB and KDU (which seem to be playing the same mix of punk and experimental that they did last decade). The Internet has risen up and gives me that thrill today. Blogs and internet radio bring me the new and that's fine.

It's the essential conflict that I think I have with the Dylan the man, which seems to have risen in the last few decades. It's a conservative, nostalgic mindset that seems to constantly look back to what we've lost as opposed to what's on the horizon. I fucking love these old hillbilly songs and soul and r&b jawns that Dylan brings out every week, love hearing that Weird, Old America that he is a part of. But, I also want to hear the stuff that has been the roots of my Weird, Old America, the 2 Live Crew, Run DMC, Arthur Baker, Larry Levan, John Zorn stuff, the people running with that, Spank Rock, Timbaland, LCD Soundsystem, Black Dice, you know the people. Hell, that's not even considering the impact of Europe and the world on my listening, which has little place on Theme Time Radio Hour. I guess that in a weird way I consider this blog as one of those new outlets and I hope that it will always serve as a place to find the old and the new, the roots and the now, with no nostalgia or hate.

What do you think? Do you agree with Dylan's view? Does anyone read this far?


wildflower seed said...

I agree with you. I think Dylan is on a nostalgia trip. But I am not surprised. He's 60+ and the times are changing a whole lot faster than when he was in his '20s. For me, the disappointment, if you want to call it that, began with seeing him on Masked & Anonymous. Somehow, I think the quasi-nihilist Dylan is a little too much to digest. I like his 60s stuff, some of his 70s stuff, and the last three albums have all been good, but I certainly dont look to him as a beacon of inspiration or anything like that.

Its good to hear old-timey traditional American music though, especially since I am not American. Feels good to connect to the "heart" of things and find that music is happiness and joy and tears and soul everywhere you go, you know, thats why I like this radio show so much. Thanks for your efforts. :)

ta said...

random thoughts on this...and keep in mind that i didn't listen to the radio hour, so i'm an uneducated buffoon.

i agree that turning a blind eye to new media outlets in order to wallow in nostalgia for the olden days is a crime. but if it doesn't cripple you from moving into the future, in general, a little nostalgia never hurt anyone. (this comes from a sentimental sap.)

radio is no longer a viable source for new (or in most cases good) music. anybody knows that. and you can get that in all the other sources you mentioned.

but i'll tell you what i'd imagine was special about radio back in the day and what's probably worthy of nostalgia: its sense of community. dylan's generation trusted the people who spun music to give them the great shit. to tune in was to realize that thousands of other faceless people out there were hearing the same thing and maybe feeling the same way about what you were hearing. at that exact moment. it's the shared experience of music.

i think its kinda like that rush you get at a live show, picking up on the energy of others...but in a quieter, afterschool-special, kinda way. ok. that's just me.

anyway, i know that people who've embraced new media feel that same sense of community from poundforpound and the numerous spots frequented by your readers...that opportunity for feedback, discussion on the best tracks, the chance to trash the tired ones, depending on p4p to post on the hot topics. like sitting around with your friends listening to music. like radio used to be. and it's a beautiful thing.

but maybe if someone's experience with online music is limited to downloading mp3s to a player and listening on their own time...they might be missing that aspect of it. it could make the experience of music seem more isolated and maybe less emotional. it's doesn't excuse the fact that they're turning their backs on the future of their profession, but maybe it excuses a tiny bit of the nostalgia.

or maybe i'm projecting. :)
please excuse my 4 pm ramblings...that's what office workers do.

Private Beach said...

When I was a kid growing up in England, there was only one (legal) British station playing what was then called pop music. That meant all of us in our teens and twenties listened to it, whereas now the audience is much more fragmented. John Peel in particular was essential listening.

I don't think Dylan is against the new - we know he likes Alicia Keys for example, and his past tours have showcased then newcomers such as Ani di Franco and Tracy Chapman as opening acts. What he is against is the worthless, and it has to be admitted that there is so much more recorded music out there today that a lot of it is inevitably a good example of Sturgeon's Law.

Paula said...

There are any number of places to hear modern music. If Bob wants to play mostly older stuff, mostly stuff that very few listeners have ever heard before, what the heck is the matter with that?