Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Happy 70th Birthday, Mr. Zimmerman

I wouldn’t call myself Bob Dylan’s biggest fan, but my respect for him is greater than the Nashville skyline. His myriad songs have conveyed complex thoughts, reflected the social sentiments of a generation, and brought a greater literateness to popular music than any composer before him. The fact that the former Robert Zimmerman of Hibbing, Minnesota, remains active in today’s music world — not only active but still a vital presence — after 50 years sings volumes about his importance. Like Elvis Presley and the Beatles, Bob Dylan’s contribution to contemporary music, and indeed to contemporary culture in general, can hardly be overestimated.

So, it’s with some embarrassment that I confess to rarely listening to his singing. Often nasal and occasionally cracking, Dylan’s voice has a sincerity and an integrity that suits his songs. What his voice doesn’t have is an ease of listenablity. For this reason, when I listen to a Bob Dylan song, I’m likelier to listen to a cover by a more accomplished vocalist than to an original recording by the tunesmith himself. I’m sure that my admission has just irretrievably cost me whatever cultural credibility I might have had with the music mavens of the world. But such are my shortcomings.

The juke box at my local bar can download multitudinous songs from Cyberspace. Whenever I’m visiting the old watering hole and feel like inflicting a block of Dylan songs on the room, I will usually play the following covers:

So, despite my musical apostasy, Happy 70th Birthday, Bob Dylan. Here’s hoping for another 70 years of vital songs and a tireless presence on the music scene. Here’s hoping that you never stop.

Now, if you’d just do something about that mustache ...


mernitman said...

Woa. Dude. Now that's... [insert impossible descriptive word]. Not dark yet, but we're getting there.

p.s. When exactly did Bob become Vincent Price? Subject for further research.

Rob in L.A. said...

You’re talking about the photo at the top of the post, right? I’m tellin’ ya, the problem is the what’s-a-cool-guy-like-me-doing-with-such-a-dorky-mustache mustache. He (and the photo) would look so much better without it. Doesn’t Dylan know that Clark Gable is the only guy to look good wearing a chevron ’stache?

If you’ve read my Rachel McAdams post, you’d know that my new career is giving unsolicited fashion advice to celebrities. Those who can, do.