Monday, November 10, 2014

Illuminations: Dylan, Man!

Dylan, Man!

Bob Dylan is one of the last few artists around that can lay claim to "greatest living legend" status. Not only is he the Alpha and Omega of all modern American songwriting, his history as an artist has become vaulted to mythic proportions that would make Orpheus blush. So, when his Basement Tapes were released this past Tuesday it made some noise, so to speak.

The Basement Tapes themselves have taken on mythical status. Recorded with The Band in his  Saugerties, NY home, as Dylan recovered from a  mysterious motorcycle accident, these tapes have only been available through bootlegs and one botched release from 1974. Or, something like that. To be honest, I can't really keep up with Dylan. Dylan's discography is so extensive and wrapped in the same cloak of ambiguity and mystery that his work becomes as impenetrable as his persona.

So, why in the hell am I writing about this, then?

Well, Dylan is one of those guys I know I should like. And don't get me wrong, I do, I have a bunch f his albums and they have given me hours of pleasure. But, Dylan will never stoke the voracious fandom in me that other, admittedly lesser artists have. I have come to accept that. I will still return to Dylan from time to time and I will still continue to pick up his new albums if they catch my fancy, but his work will never drive me into the kind of rapturous frenzy that will make me think that plunking 40 or 50 bucks down for recordings of him and his buddies dicking around in a dilapidated farm house seem like a good idea.

But, I will say that a few years ago I was going through the most devastating break-up that I had ever experienced. Every cliche was true: my heart was a shriveled, black dead thing that beat no more, and I literally could not see how it was possible that I would ever love again.

Then I picked up Blood on the Tracks. Listening to that album after a bad break-up is pretty much like putting Neosporin on your soul. I may never become a Dylan freak the way I feel I should and his mythic status may always prevent me from relating to most of his work in anything other than an intellectual capacity, but this album will always live close to my heart and for this album alone, Dylan will always have my eternal gratitude. 

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