Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Let Me Count The Ways: A Dylan Ramble

I don't get jazz. I like a lot of it. Louis Armstrong, Brubeck, The Four Freshmen, Chick Corea, Marsalis. But they're accessible. The other side, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Thelonius, I don't get them at all. I don't like them.

Jazz at that level is too mathematical for me. You need something in your brain that I haven't got to like that kind of music. Trying to explain to me what's so good about jazz so I could really get it, would be like me, trying to explain to somebody who doesn't like Bob Dylan, what's so good about him, so they'd really get it.

The first thing we'd have to get past is, "He's not a singer, he's a poet." That's right, he's a poet. Primitive, but major. But what major poet, except maybe Yeats, sings? Like distance and time coming together, Dylan's words and ancient melodies combine, intertwine, always on the brink of being out of synch, but always in perfect counterpoint. A new kind of rhythm. Listen to "Brownsville Girls", half spoken, half sung, totally extemporaneous. You might lock onto it after you've heard it 8 or 9 times. Dylan is a river you'll never step into at the same place again. Dylan is the next time you hear him.

"He's got a lousy voice."

Bob Dylan's voice, young or old, is the most extraordinary jazz instrument ever loosed on the world. I don't have the strength right now to even think about explaining that to you.

I have two heroes in this world - Einstein and Dylan. To me, they're both heroic in the same way. In the way they burst on the scene, young and unknown, but already in their full maturity, sweeping everything before them with absolute authority, and remaking the world in their own awful visions. Shout hero, hero, all day long.

Somebody told me once that Jim Nabors had a good singing voice. I don't even know what to think about that.

A lot of singers close their eyes when they sing, like they're singing alone. Dylan looks clearly out, at a place in the middle of the air. Connecting with something we can't see.

And there ain't no one can sing the blues, like him. I don't care what you've heard to the contrary.

He's unarranged, like this post.

1 comment:

Larry Blumen said...

I used to think Dylan was like Robert Burns.

Now, I think he's more like Emily Dickinson.