THE DYLAN FILES:
- Link in the Chain (roots and beginnings)
- 1961—1964 The Folk Years
- 1965—1966 Thin Wild Mercury Music
- 1967—1973 Pink Houses and Country Breezes
- 1974—1978 Rolling Thunder
- 1979—1981 Born Again
- 1982—1990 80’s Burlesque
- 1991—1996 Roots Revisited
- 1997—2005 High Water Risin'
- 2006-- Together Through Life…
Over the next six to eight months I’d like to explore the musical career of Bob Dylan. Posts will consider the various eras of his career where hopefully I can provide context and perspective. (There will be a Dylan Files post at least once a month).
I will also provide capsule reviews of every Dylan studio album as well as important bootlegs. In addition I will discuss films about or by Dylan including rare pieces like Eat the Document and Renaldo and Clara.
I will link individual posts to the list above as they are written making this the home page for The Dylan Files.
Fifty years ago an eager nineteen year old folk singer with a rock n roll heart by the name of Robert Zimmerman left Minnesota and arrived in New York City a few days later as Bob Dylan. Within five years he would change the course of popular music forever.
There’s no easy way to assess Bob Dylan’s career. He shifted and morphed through many personas and guises, exploring the many highways and side-streets of American music. Some people contend that Dylan gave rock music a conscience, but I think he gave rock music an IQ. He made it okay to accept and celebrate rock music as a valid art form.
He began his career as a folksinger who had the audacity to write his own songs (not something trad folksingers did; old equaled authentic for the folk revivalists of the late 50s and early 60s).
When he was prematurely hailed as a genius and some kind of prophet he rebelled—channeling James Dean and Arthur Rimbaud he “went electric” telling left wing establishment to look for another puppet and the right wing establishment to fuck off: ain’t gonna work on Maggie’s Farm no more...It’s all over now, baby blue...they were all positively fourth street man...
He declared himself as an artist who was not going to pander to anyone’s style or politics. He charted his own course, public taste be damned. Whatever one’s opinion of Dylan, it’s clear he is one of the most important artists of the past 100 years.
Dylan’s music is, for me, a portal into a different world
— a world where Woody Guthrie and Marlon Brando pass a bottle under a old neon sign
—where Hank Williams and Charlie Patton share a smoke and a song just south of the crossroads
--where angry kids tear up advance copies of the New York Times
—where twisted Technicolor dreams advance on golden dawns
—where the sad-eyed faces of strange and weather-beaten characters shuffle angel-like down some forgotten alleyway.
There’s an otherworldly aspect to some of his best music, as if he has been transcribing thoughtdreams sent to him from some beatific, colorful, and sometimes dangerous alternate dimension.
Dylan’s music changed my life. I had never heard music like that before—nothing prepared me for it. I have still never heard music at once visceral and introspective as Dylan’s. It made me want to read books. It made me think. It made me sing. It frustrated me. It inspired me. It knocked me out.
In the end, I hope this series will be interesting and enjoyable for both long time Dylan fans as well as those unfamiliar with his music and history.