Even Bob Dylan can’t be Bob Dylan all the time.
The 68-year-old Boy from the North Country born Robert Allen Zimmerman has been trying to break his own myth since the mid-60s, when he alienated fans of his early folk albums by plugging in and rocking out. Since then, his muse has come and gone, but his contrarian streak – most recently indulged on the month-old Christmas in the Heart, whereupon the Jewish-born troubadour snarls his way through yuletide standards with psychotic zeal – has been a constant.
For the last 20 years, so has the road. Dylan tours endlessly, turning up at a half-full arena or a minor league ballpark near you again and again, as if to prove he’s no sage, just an itinerant song-and-dance-man. Though late-period albums like Time Out of Mind and Love & Theft have evinced a creative renewal, he’s often been erratic, even indifferent on stage. Still, there’s something noble in his doggedness, fighting those Workingman’s Blues. Paying the empty seats as little mind as the occupied ones. Singing on though thousands of shows have curdled his voice into a viscous, gutshot croak. On a good night, he can still remind you why people worshipped him in the first place. Continue reading