Bob Dylan’s ‘Tempest’

It’s been six weeks since Bob’s new album came out: long enough to get the hang of it, even for the most picky Dylanophile.

So – as usual, some great songs.  An average Dylan song is better than most songwriters ever manage, and there are a few really good Dylan songs here: ‘Scarlet Town‘ is the best by a mile.  ‘In Scarlet Town where I was born, there’s ivy leaf and silver thorn; the streets have names that you can’t pronounce…’ is a great opening to his retelling of the old American standard ‘Barbara Allen’, and takes us into the land of mythical resonance that gave birth to Dylan the songwriter.

I could go on (and will, if you get me talking).  But one of the (many) things I love about Bob is the way he makes old things new.  He re-imagines the oldest folk traditions and makes them into something sparkling and fresh.  He finds life where you thought there wasn’t any. It’s one of the things that infuriates the casual listener who goes to one of his concerts – why can’t he do ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ so that I can recognise it?  But what would be the point?  Do it different: maybe then it will mean something different.  Maybe it’ll work better. Maybe it’ll be worse.  But we won’t know unless we experiment.

So that’s the point of this blog – learn from doing things differently.  Re-imagine.  Keep it fresh.