Driving along this breathtaking for LA Sunday morning amidst blue skies and really pretty clouds defined clearly by colors of blue and white and not our usual LA gray, the radio via my favorite station KCSN was playing a Dylan hour. I jumped in at Congratulations and jumped out at Fallen Angels, the new Bob album released last Friday. Bob turns 75 next Tuesday and I love the fact that Fallen Angels is his 37th studio album. That is literally like releasing an album every other year you have been alive. Is it just because of where I am in the chronology of life that Bob turning 75 doesn’t sound old to me at all? I don’t think it sounds old to the kids at KCSN either.
You would think a college radio station doing a Dylan hour would be jumping up and down like a rolling stone but they didn’t.The next song in the set was Full Moon and Empty Arms, a Frank Sinatra song.
I saw Dylan at some venue that I wish I could remember in LA in maybe 1994. I wish I could tell you what he played but I am sure it was good. I never saw him again or before. I have never heard Dylan do the standards that he has come to love with his past few albums. I bought tickets to see him again this year. It’s been sort of my own little rock and roll reunion tour after so many years of not going to concerts. Couldn’t deal with the thought of crowds, arenas, stadiums etc. It’s the oldness that sets in when you are in your 40s and if you are lucky dissipates by the 50s and disappears by your 60s. The sold out in two seconds festival in Coachella this fall is a testament to that sentiment. So for me this year it was back to Bruce and Bob and Rod followed by Van Morrison and Tom Jones for starters.
Anyway I digress- yes of course. I have been told or rather warned that seeing Bob at the Shrine this year may be disappointing at best, annoying at worst. Things like he can’t really sing anymore; well some think he never could. Or that he doesn’t do the anthems we have come to know and love from our youth and that he concentrates on his new old by everyone else standards. Hmm has been my reaction to the rhetoric. I am curious, intrigued really to see what he does now at 75. Is that not the point to it? We certainly can’t be this deluded to think we are going to see Bob singing like he did when he was strolling down 4th street in the Village can we? And so this chance encounter with KCSN’s Dylan hour has delighted me actually. I like Bob being 75 year old Bob and doing such a nice job on these songs. His selection is quite good really, not conventional at all. I have never heard many of these songs and I like his rendition of them. His voice is low and not so smooth and not perfect but he delivers these songs in such a nice way. Nice- really the only adjective that comes to mind. Pleasant like the day it was this morning listening to it. I haven’t heard the whole new album, just one song called Polka Dots and Moonbeams and it was terrific. I am waiting for my free CD copy that we get for buying tickets to the show next month. Thank you Bob, that was very nice of you to do that for us.
Bob is a brilliant artist, always has been, always will be. His genius today lies in the fact that he isn’t going out on stage and becoming a caricature of his old self.
This week, Dylanfests will be sprouting up all over the place and that’s as it should be. Bob doesn’t need to be the one to get up on stage and sing Positively 4th Street or Mr. Tambourine Man or Tangled Up In Blue. That’s what we have Andy, Renee, Al D, or Bob Malone for. These musicians are doing exactly what Bob is doing now, singing the songs of their musical heroes and the songs they loved growing up. It’s a wonderful changing of the guards I think and I for one am excited to go hear 75 year old Bob next month doing his own version of a Dylanfest.