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dylanites of the future | by sarah e.b., contributor

Posted on Thursday, April 24, 2008 at 09:29AM by Registered Commentersadi ranson-polizzotti | Comments Off

bob-dylan-cadillac-escalade_11.jpgBecause Bob Dylan’s fans span generations, I
appreciate the notion that every fan has his or her
own era of Dylan.  I am of the Time Out of Mind/
Love & Theft/ Modern Times generation.  And Modern
Times, it is comforting to note, connects us to the
contemporary (as Rolling Stone magazine noted, his
simple citing of Alicia Keys reminds us of where we
stand in the here-and-now of music).  
    I have been a self-proclaimed Dylan fan for about
three years now.  In the college crowd of Dylan
supporters, we know an entirely different figure in
American culture and respond very differently to his
artistic offerings.  After all, most people my age,
that I know of, who listen to Bob Dylan have turned to
him as an alternative to the status quo of radio
    For me, the notion that music is constantly-changing
is positive and exciting, but the direction in which
it heads now is unsettling.  I am a musician, and I
would like to see popular music progress into further
realms of technical sophistication.  Unfortunately, as
noted in Henrik Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People, the
majority (in this case, of radio listeners) may not
always be “right¨ (there will always be disagreeing
minorities), but they frequently control what we hear
and see in the world around us, in a society where
many aspects of life are mutedly democratic.
    My musical tastes tend to appeal to that which is
unique, edgy, and complex.  I believe there are many
musicians of my age whose preferences are similar
because once one learns to play an instrument fairly
well, it is ungratifying to listen attentively to a
genre that lacks instrumental skill or deep-rooted
musical influences.  My appreciation for Bob Dylan
stems partially from an admiration of his ability to
lead his musical career in the direction of his
personal ambitions.  And, I have found that the
results of his personal projects are so inspiring in
themselves that I can enjoy any era of Dylan's work.
There is a certain honesty in the ability to draw art
from one's life muses without having to refer outside
private aspirations.  Dylan's music is most inspiring
to me as a musician because each period seems
genuinely motivated by the spirit of a technically
underestimated guitar-player.  He delves head-first
into appealing genres of musical complexity and
    To any other Dylan fans-slash-musicians who do not
share my reasoning:  I don't mean any offense to
those talented folks really trying to make it in
today's music world.  It is simply unfortunate that
any young musician who emerges today with the energy
and creativity of a young Dylan is likely to be
written off for their lack of experience.  This is
especially the case in a climate of teenage punks
whose images are based around shock value.  And,
sadly, this inexperience is often much too true.  Even
young Dylan himself based his music around his worship
of another, Woody Guthrie.  
If examined from today’s point of view,
early Dylan music might echo some
aspects of youth music today that prevent our
talented, college-aged musicians from being seen and
heard.  These include the musicians¡¦ intentional
superficial images, dedications to one artistic trend,
and sometimes-overconfident personalities.  Dylan's
music, though, emerged in a time when all the young
people were forced to take on the roles of
experienced, responsible adults even in their late
teens and early twenties because there were wars
being fought in the US and overseas, and they were at
the receiving end of reality.  This allowed Dylan to
rise out of his cowboy boots and into the role of
“voice of a generation.¨
    Today we have a war, yes, but few musicians speak
about it.  And, when they do - when the artists come
out and say what they have to say - is the message
really conveyed, and have they made a difference?
Certainly times have changed, and it's that voice of
experience that we crave today.  That is, of course,
another reason why many of us youngsters have turned
on to Dylan’s music.

Whether or not he speaks
directly about the atmosphere of these “Modern
Times¨, Dylan is an experienced and accomplished
musician who has marched through all his own ventures
in a changing musical world.  He allows his roots to
show, and his skills to flourish, and his style is
mature and accomplished.  Often times, our hearts and
our history books agree that he should be held in high
esteem.  In my opinion Dylan should have a great
effect on the Modern Times generation for all who
desire to hear his music.  From his musicality and his
wit we can learn to produce inspired sounds, trust our
senses, and brave this (hopefully brief) period of
musical stagnancy.

Sarah E.B. is a sometimes contributor to Tant Mieux for our Dylan section. A younger Dylan fan, she offers a fresh perspective and insight. At present, she is a student and prefers to remain somewhat anonymous. We are pleased to have her. 

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