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coverpic flag US - California - Full Moon 122 - 09/07/06

Bob Dylan
Modern Times
Sony Music Entertainment Inc.

Good old Bob. People have been trying to write him off as a has-been for more than 40 years now, but they've never been right. They haven't been close to right. Maybe they've wanted to say something important, something radical or remotely revolutionary, but they've never been close to the truth.

Even when he stumbled into his so-called Christian period and the taste in our mouths got a bit bitter, he was still there doing what he did and made no compromises. He didn't look to the left and right (certainly not to the right) before he crossed the street. He didn't even look for the "Walk"-sign to turn green.

It must have taken 20 years too long for people to understand that this man has both humour, wit and a bucketful of sarcasm enough to make the Pope cry with laughter. But most of all, he's never been cheap, he's never been easy and he's certainly never been tacky. So, what do I make of it then? I say we should give this giant our humble and sincere bows.

On this new album, his first in five years, he rumbles into town on what sounds like a crazy horse and here's what he says: I was thinkin' 'bout Alicia Keys, couldn't keep from crying. When she was born in Hell's Kitchen, I was living down the line. I'm wondering where in the world Alicia Keys could be. I been looking for her even clear through Tennessee. Maybe it was rude of me, but I started laughing my most heartfelt and happy laugh. There is actually a fair chance that old Bob's in love with Miss Keys, but either way he knocks us on the head so hard with the line that it's simply brilliance on display. "Thunder On The Mountain" is only the mere beginning of this Fabulous Fanfare of Fables and Fun. It's a show folks! He's a sharp-shooter. He's a comedian. He's a statue. He's a hobo. He's a king. He's a servant. He's a juggler. What else is he? I don't really care. The myth and the ever lasting speculations around his persona get even less and less interesting. Simply because this body of work that he has created is so rich and so much stand alone that whoever Robert Zimmerman is, is none of my concern.

I suppose that any "fan" of Bob's was there on the morning of August 28th. scraping at the door of the record-store. I didn't go to work that day and it was worth it. Even though he got me there, in the song "Working Man's Blues #2". "Some people never worked a day in their lives, don't know what work even means". He's got every right to talk about those people, being on the job 365 days a year, every year himself. So, I'm not talking too much about the new album, am I? I didn't feel the need to. After such a long time, so many albums and so many songs there's no reason to start trying to convince people to buy, or not buy, the new Bob Dylan-album. Either you're there or you're not, either in or out, either on the beat or out of it. You either hold the beast by its horns or you hug it.

It seems pretty clear to me that no one else could release an album titled Modern Times with the type of gutso that Dylan can. Even more so, listening to his swing-pop-country-rock music of 2006. It doesn't sound like anything else you've heard, but you know who he is and soon you'll get you feet moving, your mind working around it and your teeth shining through a smile. His old mate Robbie Robertson once said in a song, "You like it now, but you'll learn to love it later". Dylan makes stuff you can't quite bite your teeth through. That's why it's gold.

Copyright © 2006 Anders Svendsen e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Bob Dylan articles/reviews: Blonde On Blonde, Live at the Garde Arts Center, January 14th 1998, Pawtucket, McCoy Stadium, Rhode Island, 24.08.2006, Bootleg Series Volume 4 .., Tell Tale Signs : The Bootleg Series Vol. 8, The Best Of The Cutting Edge 1965-1966: The Bootleg Series Vol. 12.

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