Bob Dylan: He’s back and he’s electric — again

Once upon a time in rock and roll, a great rock star, set off by something called Johnny Rotten. wondered out loud in song if rock and roll demanded a fiery, perhaps suicidal finale. Neil Young set off a storm with the idea, on Rust Never Sleeps, one of his greatest albums, and among his fellow rockers. 

John Lennon, for one, hated the idea, and said so (via Wikipedia): 

Sheff [Playboy]: You disagree with Neil Young's lyric in Rust Never Sleeps: "It's better to burn out than to fade away…" Lennon: I hate it. It's better to fade away like an old soldier than to burn out. If he was talking about burning out like Sid Vicious, forget it. I don't appreciate the worship of dead Sid Vicious or of dead James Dean or dead John Wayne. It's the same thing. Making Sid Vicious a hero, Jim Morrison - it's garbage to me. I worship the people who survive - Gloria SwansonGreta Garbo. They're saying John Wayne conquered cancer – he whipped it like a man. You know, I'm sorry that he died and all that – I'm sorry for his family – but he didn't whip cancer. It whipped him. I don't want Sean worshipping John Wayne or Johnny Rotten or Sid Vicious. What do they teach you? Nothing. Death. Sid Vicious died for what? So that we might rock? I mean, it's garbage you know. If Neil Young admires that sentiment so much, why doesn't he do it? Because he sure as hell faded away and came back many times, like all of us. No, thank you. I'll take the living and the healthy.

Lennon had a point. Young himself shows no sign of burning out, after all. He's busy not just with his music, but with his hybrid biomass/electric car, not to mention his interest in Lionel trains, his new biography coming out this fall, Waging Heavy Peace, two records this year, a tour, and the Bridge School benefit this fall. 

But if the early word can be trusted, it's a comeback by his old buddy Bob Dylan that seems likely to make the music news this year. Dylan is about to release a new record, Tempest, on which he has largely turned away from his airy jazzy 20's Americana sound, and gone back to the electric guitar.

He's excited about it, he says. So is the Los Angeles Times, extolling his story-telling prowess on the title song, about the Titanic going down,  and British press, including Uncut. Here from the Telegraph is just one of several enthusiastic advance peeks: 

There’s a lot of blood spilt on Tempest through murder and revenge, chaos and
confusion. On the Muddy Waters style, harmonica-driven blues of Narrow Way,
Dylan declares “this is a hard country to stay alive in / I’m armed to the
hilt.” Although unfolding with a lot of wit and relish, this is Dylan’s
darkest, maddest, most provocative collection of songs in a long time.

The word is that Dylan is pleased with his latest effort, or, as someone at
his record company told me, “he wants people to hear it.” 

The Telegraph critic does admit that Dylan singing has a range of just a few notes, but says he pulls it off nonetheless. Here's a new video, Via The Guardian:

This one seems like a pleasant throwback to the New Morning style. Rumor has it that Bob is coming to town…for an expensive show


Published by Kit Stolz

I'm a freelance reporter and writer based in Ventura County.

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