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“It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry”

Whether one likes or loathes Bob Dylan and his music, there is no escaping the fact that he will go down in history as one of the greatest and most influential figures in popular music during the 20th Century – and quite possibly ever.

It might be said that the mark of a great musician and performer is the extent to which others in the music industry have covered his songs, freely acknowledged his influence upon their own music and – in not a few cases – have practically made careers for themselves by of recounting tales from the time or times (often brief) that they came into his orbit, worked upon any of his recordings and/or even played in his band on his famous “Never-Ending Tour” that began in about 1988 and has officially never stopped since.

In the past week I have come across two pieces on the website of The Independent on him that give different perspectives upon the man and the myth that I thought I would share with Rusters today.

To an extent Dylan is like a metaphorical infinitely-sided prism onto which anybody can project their own interpretation or view and then get back something which either confirms or confounds it.

During the early 1960s he gained a world-wide reputation and iconic status as a protest singer – yet both at the time and ever since he has consistently denied that he ever was.

The list of similar contradictions and complexities in the man and the music he creates is endless and compounded by the passing years. At a time in life (he’s aged 77) when many still-living contemporaries have long since retired, begun playing ‘Great Hits’ tours, or become sad parodies of themselves in trading upon their past supposed glories, Dylan just keeps on moving.

Not that this means that attending a Dylan concert is ever akin to a comfortable, secure evening in a West End theatre at which he knocks out all the hits, everyone claps along and has a good time – and then they all go their separate ways for a hundred sumptuous dinners in upmarket restaurants.

See here for a link to an article by Lucy Jones on the recently announced Dylan Hyde Park gig coming up in July 2019 – THE INDEPENDENT

Finally, see here for a link to an attempt by Clemence Michallon to do the completely impossible, i.e. choose the ten most influential Bob Dylan songs of all time – THE INDEPENDENT


About Michael Stuart

After university, Michael spent twelve years working for MELODY MAKER before going freelance. He claims to keep doing it because it is all he knows. More Posts