Oh mercy, indeed.
You know, I really like Bob Dylan. I’ve got most of his albums and, like him or hate him, the man has so much to say and he’s so much a part of our culture now that it’s really hard to not pay attention to him. Whatever you may think of him, I’ve heard it all from the fans and the detractors, and I don’t care. I really like him, so there.
For the purposes of this post, it should be noted that this is one of the only albums of his that I indeed did not have until the other day, when our good friend Irwin, co-creator behind the mighty Knox Acoustic Café, was kind enough to lend me his copy so I could give it a spin. Thanks, Irwin!
Now, by the end of the 1980’s Bob Dylan had been through so many political changes and wars and protests, let alone the life he’s lived too, so you’d think he’d be too tired to bother, completely apathetic to the point of being pointless. Well, think again. And don’t forget the heady period from which this came in the career of producer Daniel Lanois, too. This record was part of such an incredible roll. Oh baby!
He starts right off the bat with a damning rocker, and he never looks back as he leads us through blues, country, folk and everything else you’d expect from this man and his band. There’s no trace of getting older, or tired, or of giving in. The iconoclast remains (and choose your own definition of that word here, folks, they all work on one level or another), thank goodness.
And we really couldn’t blame him if he had given it up, even just a bit, could we? How long can the idealism of the 60’s survive in the face of decades destroyed by the power and money-hungry, those who absolutely refuse to learn from history (and are hence doomed to repeat it)? Think about it. Masters Of War is just as true today as it was when it was written, etc etc etc. Could we understand if he just finally said Fuck you? Sure, but he hasn’t. And for that I thank Mr. Dylan profusely. We need him. He’s always shown us the way. I just wish we’d follow it more often.
Of course, looking back at this record now, from the context of knowing what’s happened and come after, none of us are really all that surprised by what’s here, are we? Suffice it to say that I don’t think he’s ever lost his vitality. He’s had some snoozer tracks, sure, but record as often as he has for as many years as he has and try to not have a couple of tracks that suck. Go ahead, just try. Well, I didn’t hear any such songs here, anyway. Each one is a total gem.
This record kicks ass on so many levels. The man has such an incredible ability to pick up the world, turn it in his hands so he can even see the seedy underbelly, and then reflect it back to us so that we, too, may share in his insights. And what about his voice, you say? His voice is what it is, so be it. Nobody ever expected him to learn how to sing. It’s what he has to say here that matters.
I loved it. I’m gonna go play this again. And again.
Own this record.
01 Political World
02 Where Teardrops Fall
03 Everything Is Broken
04 Ring Them Bells
05 Man In The Long Black Coat
06 Most Of The Time
07 What Good Am I?
08 Disease Of Conceit
09 What Was It You Wanted
10 Shooting Star