Monday, May 23, 2011


Bob Dylan turns seventy tomorrow. Love him or hate him, this old geezer changed your world by expanding the possibilities of songwriting and infusing pop music with poetry. He influenced everyone from the Beatles all the way down to those annoying buskers on the street. Forever changing and eluding your little net, this chameleon didn't sit on any rock long enough to stay one color. He doesn't seem to care if you get it, and he doesn't try to placate you. He undermines your expectations at every turn, and scrambles up the Great American Songbook while stealing snippets of Civil War tunes, Tin Pan Alley, surrealism and Blakean visionary poetry. His songs are not just Top Forty radio fodder--he could write that stuff in his sleep--but more like short stories. Maybe you hate his voice--yes, he can bray like an Old Testament prophet or some heartsick riverboat captain with a bad cold, but if you want sweetness and sentimentality he can do that, too, but he won't just give you a scoop of vanilla ice cream even if it is his birthday.

The long strange trip of Bob Dylan unfurls in this video, "A Series of Dreams," an outtake from the "Oh, Mercy" sessions recorded in 1989. The song is a brooding journey through the darkness, and the film clips from Dylan's career are priceless.

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