Friday, July 03, 2020

Past laurels

I've listened a few times to the new Bob Dylan album, and I do think it's quite nice in its mellow way. But today, while we were out for a drive, we were just a couple of minutes from our destination when it ended, so I put on "All I Really Want to Do" (written in 1964 and released on Another Side of Bob Dylan in 1965).

My gawd, what a difference. That song, one of his really great ones, is so cracklingly alive - funny and sarcastic and sincere and ambiguous and powerful. He playfully gives this astonishing catalog of all the things you shouldn't do with or to a romantic partner, including playing multiple types of head games. It's jokey and rhymey, but at the same time a brilliantly assembled and variant list.

Then the classic ending about not wanting to make her to "see like me, feel like me, or be like me" - which of course is also so right. But he laughs, which has always conveyed to me his sense of the utter weirdness of anyone being like Bob Dylan. But throughout, the sarcasm and sincerity are so inextricably mixed, including the obviously suspicious come-on inherent in "All I really want to do, is, baby, be friends with you." Yeah right. The ambiguity is a large part of what makes it so great. (Missing, of course, in the Byrds' pretty and tuneful but shallow version.)

It is too bad for other artists, in a way, that we listen to Dylan today because he did such great things more than 50 years ago.


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