When: Wed., May 1 2013
BOB DYLAN A lot of young folks simply do not get the whole Dylan thing. He can’t sing, he can’t play, he seems like kind of an asshole... And they’re right. Yet, he remains one of the most important figures of the 20th century — and not just musically. Sure, his Woody Guthrie-meets-Rimbaud folk music anticipated the onrushing tide of ’60s social unrest and put post-modernism in song, and his electrification of that at Newport turned pop music into rock music and folk on its ear (“Judas!” they soon cried). But what’s most fascinating is to watch Dylan in the vortex of celebrity that exploded around him — he simply would not play the media game, and was extraordinarily uncomfortable as the “voice of a generation.” No wonder, either. Lost souls — many baked on weed or LSD — would hunt Dylan down at his home and want to talk politics and religion with him, while clueless reporters who’d never heard his music battered him for explanations about what was happening in the streets. “It was like living in an Edgar Allan Poe story,” Dylan later said, succinctly summing up the next 60 years of popular culture. Lately, he’s made up for years of irrelevancy and strangeness with a few simple-but-well-executed blues-based records, but his on-stage mumbling is indecipherable now, his anthems too often shop-worn exercises in Baby Boomer nostalgia salvaged only by the crack bands he’s surrounded by. But he changed the world we live in, and turned a percipient eye to the things too many take on faith, including hero worship — which, of course, made him a hero. Let’s face it; we’re never gonna learn.