Bob Dylan is still doing it – Bob Dylan NZ-

Bob Dylan is still doing it – 20 Dec 1985 –
POOR Robert Zimmerman. He has had to answer for his fictive alter ego ever since he reinvented himself, at the University of Minnesota in 1959, as Bob Dylan. He forged the new identity from fragments of off campus Bohemia: jazz poetry, beatnik nihilism, dissenting politics and folk music’s fantasy of uncorrupted community.Transcending the artless manner of Woody Guthrie,he became a rock-and-roll Rim-baud, the hobo prophet of his generation.

Had he died in his near fatal motorcycle accident in July 1966, he would doubtless be revered today as a martyred cultural icon, along with James Dean and John Lennon. But Dylan survived. “I’m not concerned with the myth,” he said several years ago, in a typically evasive comment. ‘I’d rather go on, above the myth.”

The myth, however, has a life of its own. Witness Bio graph,the five-record boxed set just released by Columbia that chronicles Dylan’s career. The set includes 53 tracks, 18 of them previously unreleased, all recorded between 1961 and 1981. Highlights include rarities like Mixed-Up Confusion, Dylan’s first single, which was released and quickly withdrawn in 1962.bob-dylan-patti-smith-poster

The digital mastering brings out fresh detail in familiar songs: for the first time, you can hear clearly such lovely musical touches as the curling guitar figure on I Want You. The set opens with a kalei doscope of love songs recorded between 1961 and 1970. It closes with four songs from the late ’60s full of religious imagery, including All Along the Watchtower. And it includes a 36-page illustrated booklet, built around a revealing new interview with Dylan.

“I don’t write confessional songs,” he says in the interview. “Emotion has got nothing to do with it. The ’60s were not any big deal.. I would rather have lived at the time of King David.” In the mid-’60s, Dylan was taking his music to extremes he would never again venture near.

“Chaos is a friend of mine,” he declared at the time, and you knew it was true – you could hear it in his voice. His art came to a full boil while he was on tour in Great Britain in my 1966. Biograph includes a previously unreleased rock version of I Don’t believe you from an early stop on that tour.

His audiences hates this music. He defiantly played it louder, harder, more violently than ever before.To borrow a metaphor from the critic Greil Marcus, Dylan stared into the void and in the summer of 1966, the void stared back. After his motorcycle accident that July, chaos would never again be his friend. “All our tongues are confused,” he laments today. “That lie about everybody having their own truth inside of them has done a lot of damage and made people crazy.”

He should know. Nearly half the music on Biograph dates from the dizzying years when Dylan was blazing his own path – and sanity be damned. Little in the later work can stand beside the feverish intensity of his early songs. One of the few exceptions is Up To Me, a previously unreleased song recorded in 1974.

“If we never meet again,” he sings in the last verse, “baby, remember me … No one else could play that tune. You know it was up to me.” It is a moving performance, confessional in spirit, simple in instrumentation, marked by an unforced pathos, as is Dylan’s laconic comment on the song. “I don’t think of myself as Bob Dylan,” he says,”It’s like Rimbaud said, ‘I is another.”

-Jim Miiler -NewsweeK

~ by viradoang on 23-March-2009.

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