Thursday, May 24, 2007

Highway 61 Meets Route 66

Bob Dylan turns 66 today.

I've been on a Dylan jag pretty much all year, listening to the albums, his wonderful radio shows, reading the books about him and the books about his music (Paul Williams, Michael Gray's encyclopedia, and above all, Greil Marcus). I've been seeing as many of the films as I can find. A current favorite of mine is the song "Changing of the Guards" from STREET-LEGAL, an album I consider underrated as a collection of songs though I am sometimes annoyed by the producer's handling of the songs. "Changing of the Guards" was one of the songs selected by Patti Smith for her new album of covers, TWELVE, and her version may well redefine the song, much as Jimi Hendrix left his indelible imprint on "All Across the Watchtower." Lenny Kaye's acoustic guitar brings out the song's heroism so full-bloodedly, it's full of juice. Smith's haggard but expressive voice grabs onto the lyrics and wrests out all their medievalism, and the progression from one stanza to the next has all the drama of a series of overturned Tarot cards.

I'm up way too late and it's time for my boot heels to be wanderin' -- but I wish Bob Dylan a happy day and a good show tonight as he entertains the folks in Hershey, PA. On those occasions when I lose touch with what it means to be an artist, he's one of the lights who can always be counted on to bring me back on course, and I'm appreciative.

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