Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Bob Dylan - Modern Times

Bob Dylan, "Someday Baby" (YSI link)

Bob Dylan, "Nettie Moore" (YSI link)

Finally. I've been threatening to take a look at Bob Dylan's recent album, Modern Times, for months now. I'm not sure why I've put it off. Probably a mixture of a fear of overdosing people on Mr. Dylan, a desire to get up some of the rare, older stuff as opposed to something that everyone is talking about and can get and a inability to put my thoughts down on this. That final issue hasn't gone away, but it's time to do the damn thing.

I do want to discuss the actual music contained on this LP first. It's a really great snapshot of Dylan right now, the leader of a great touring band who has become the blues man that he started out as. It sounds remarkably similar to the live shows I've seen, with the added benefit of Dylan's voice upfront in the mix. Oh, what a voice it is! Long time readers know that I love Dylan's voice as much as anything and it sounds so great here to me. It's ragged and off-key at times, more nasally than his younger voice, but that only adds to the magic. It's so real and unadorned, the perfect instrument for these words about love, love lost, pain, death, tragedy. Listen to it during the refrain on "Someday Baby," as it struggles to reach a note just a bit too high, or the raspiness during "Nettie Moore" and tell me that this isn't gorgeous in its imperfection.

"Nettie Moore" is one of Dylan's greatest songs, definitely from this recent period, probably ever. It's a magnificent expression of love and despair, a ballad for the ages. As he sings with that weathered voice, "I'm the oldest son of a crazy man/I'm in a cowboy band/Got a pile of sins to pay for and I ain't got time to hide/I'd walk through a blazing fire, baby, if I knew you was on the other side despair." Magnificent. "Someday Baby" is just damn catchy, with the added bonus of that ol' Bob acid tone (not in a short supply at all throughout the album). "I try to be friendly, I try to be kind/Now I'm gonna drive you from your home, just like I was driven from mine/Someday baby you ain't gonna worry po' me any more." Mang, this whole album gets better and better with every listen, like all great Dylan albums. The two above were my initial favs, now I'm loving the first two tracks - "Thunder On The Mountain" and "Spirit On The Water."

I'm sure everyone has heard the raves about this recent one, as it has been on most Top 10 lists for 2006. I can't add much to that, as it is one of the better albums I heard last year, another brilliant addition to the Dylan oeuvre. It's hard to really look at this one album without considering it as a part of the trilogy of albums he has released in the last decade. Many are comparing it to his greatest periods in the 1960s. I just had to say that this is just too much, as these are great albums but nowhere the levels that Dylan sustained for the first decade of his career. Y'all know that I hate the nostalgia, but I also don't want to front. This is a great album, which you need to buy immediately. It is another amazing work in his illustrious career,


Anonymous said...

why always the comparison to the early work?
an artist creates out of what life is handing him at the moment--if he's a Realized Being--not a hack or a sucker for his best reviews---which will only render him a mannered idiot.
glad you like the album.
maybe after you hear it more you'll see the breadth of it's brilliance without wishing for the magical metaphors of a younger spirit--
there's refined thinking the seemingly simpler directness of language.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful writing. Thanks.

Markku Koski

Doctor Mooney said...

Very Nice Post! Just wanted to let you know that I posted Dylan's Newport 65 (electric & acoustic) show over at my blog "Doctor Mooney's 115th Dream" (1/24/07). Check it out when you have a sec. I have some more Dylan goodies planned. Should have a new one up every week for a while.

Likin' the blog. Keep it up!