Hey, Baby Boomers, feeling old yet? The original Voice of a Generation turns 70 today. I don't sit around waxing nostalgic for a Sixties I never experienced, but I do regret that I missed an era when the pop charts were ruled, at least temporarily, by a young guy who could barely sing and wrote songs of undeniable poetry. And, unlike virtually all of his peers, he produced vital music in every decade of his professional life, including this odd self-portrait from a few years back (try to imagine Louis Armstrong singing this tune)
I saw Dylan at a hockey arena back in 2003 when he was touring behind Love and Theft. He came out dressed as a Kentucky colonel, played many (not all!) of his hits, and was backed by a crack band of pros. But, it was those songs where he accompanied himself with his guitar and harmonica that were the most memorable moments. It's no wonder that there are still a lot of people who regret his turning away from folk music. He really is a master of that simplest of musical forms, even if his muse was much more complex.
The Free Will Dylan Top 12
1. the Freewheelin' Bob Dylan: where "it all began." "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" is haunting
2. Another Side of Bob Dylan: Dylan's poetry begins to flower.
3. Highway 61 Revisited: an out-of-control rock masterpiece with beautifully rustic melodies
4. Blonde On Blonde: Dylan said this came closest to the folk rock sound he was after. Regret getting rid of my LP because it sounded warmer than the CD (although the re-masters were an improvement)
5. John Wesley Harding: pure simplicity. the lyrics are the true beginning of Dylanology
6. The Basement Tapes: great fun.
7. Blood On The Tracks: Dylan at the height of his powers. people who think Dylan is a terrible singer need to listen to this.
8. Desire: Simultaneously contains one of his best songs ("Hurricane") and one of his worst ("Joey").
9. Slow Train Coming: his first "Christian" album was produced by Mark Knopfler and is very well recorded. Most of the songs from this unfairly maligned record have gone on to be gospel standards.
10. Infidels: a fascinating line-up: Sly & Robbie on rhythm and Mark Knopfler and Mick Taylor on guitars. Widely seen at the time as being "Reaganesque" believe it or not.
11. Time Out of Mind: murky ambient Dylan. Started a decade-long career revival
12. Love and Theft: very underrated concept album about the Deep South.