bob dylan - The I-94 Bar
I often put forward the argument about his Bobness that if any new artist produced a run of albums with the depth and quality of "Time Out Of Mind" in 1997 until "The Tempest" in 2013, we would hail them as a lyrical genius, the likes of which we'd not heard since Leonard Cohen.
We would be in wonder of this songwriter who draws Americano from his depth of styles, whether it be through darkened Southern blues, Western swing, folk ballads, rockabilly or Irish balladering.
We'd note the remarkable gravel in the vocals akin to Tom Waits and Shane Mc Gowan, and the way they descend to a whisper, the aural equivalent of the oldest oak tree, all weathered and timbered.
But it's Dylan. No singer/songwriter compares, and there is no other career like his.
This may be Dylan's best album ever. It might also be his most unnecessary. He recorded these songs. Sent out promos. Then he changed his mind.
Was it right to dump this version and re-record it? Absolutely.
In the early ’70s, this album would have had its fans. It would have sold. But it would have disappeared into the back catalogue. Too much more of the same.
The second go at the songs that become the Blood on the Tracks album are a force of nature that captured the zeitgeist. They buried the copyists and pretenders. That album was a lion amongst cattle. It turned Dylan's career around.
Sometimes I think I’m a bastard instead of being just somewhat scatterbrained. See, I put this order in to Easy Action and they sent a couple of other CDs as well. Generous of them. And I never thanked them.
Alright, I’d had a couple of man-flu health ishoos, and there were other inconveniences. But I never fucking thanked them. And they’re a generous, intelligent company. I feel like a small limp dick confessing this. But you should know some of the circumstances.
Steve Lorkin photo
More than a decade ago, I was sitting in a Sydney pub with a beer after a Bob Dylan concert. I was amidst Dylan fans, including Jenny Kee, the ’60s fashion icon, “OZ” magazine figure and Buddhist. Jenny is a deep thinker and was peeling back layers on the Dylan show we had both witnessed. She turned to me in mid-conversation and asked a question I won’t forget.
“Do you think Dylan is deeply spiritual and has soul consciousness on stage?”
My answer after much thought was: “I can’t answer that, as I believe Bob lived many lifetimes and always felt he was guarded on that level, except in his born-again phase. That said, his songs are from the heart and mostly from his mind.”
Jenny responded. “I saw Lou Reed last year. I believe he does, as he is on that journey.”
“I can’t say that about Bob or even Lou Reed. But after seeing Patti Smith live, I believe she does and that it comes from a very deep realm, in fact one could call it soul consciousness.”
That was my answer all those years ago that night in Haymarket. I've always believed Patti is indeed a special performer.