Remember that TV show? “I can name that tune in nn seconds.” Well, Bob Dylan would have had me stumped.
I’ve always enjoyed it when an artist offers a new rendition of a song during a live performance. “You might be tired of it; so am I. So listen to this.” It confirms that the song has an identity – a life – of its own, independent of the original recording, untouched by the endless repetition.
I saw a Bob Dylan concert, though, and he took things to a whole new level. The applause that usually accompanies the opening strains of a favourite song was delayed until midway through the chorus. And the applause was muffled by groans, grunts, whats and huhs?
New arrangements, different lyrics, new melodies (well, with Dylan, that’s maybe a guess). Actually, it was less like Name That Tune, and more like Guess That Vegetable.
I mean, I was expecting different, maybe even strange. And I know Dylan’s always been a “this is what I have to say, and this is how I want to say it. Take it or leave it” kinda guy. But it was like a band of gypsies rolled into town, heard a Dylan CD at the local bar, then went onstage and jammed it. Talk about becoming a caricature of yourself!
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve always admired Bob Dylan. His music is timeless and his influence is incalculable. I just don’t know what to make of this bizarre experience.
Something is happening here, but I don’t know what it is. Do you, Mr. Jones?