Thursday, September 06, 2012

Dylan's Tempest

The Bootleg Series, Vols. 1-3 (Rare & Unreleased) 1961-1991 [Disc 3] Composers: Jeff Rosen/Bob Dylan

This is Bob Dylan's "Every Grain of Sand", one of the bootlegged songs that originally was a studio demo. His voice is really haggard and the whole thing is rough and raw--a background vocal is off time and a dog is barking in the distance. I imagine several things--he's in his living room with his kids in the backyard playing with the dog, and it feels personal. The bootleg is like a snapshot, like being in Shakespeare's study watching him bent over his rough draft of Henry V or Michelangelo doing sketches on the Sistine chapel.

 "Every Grain" is a lyrical masterpiece, I love the way it articulates the situation of being a fallen creature fearing but craving the nearness of a holy God--nothing is good without Him, but it is a trembling experience being in His presence, if not for His saving grace. As Dylan expresses it, I am hanging in the balance of the reality of man. He is speaking of damnation. Quite a subject to be sung in such a tender, sensitive song.

Which brings me to my first impressions of Tempest, and the reviews I've been hearing about it. Dylan is sounding violent and angry, and in a video of one of his more playful songs, a kid is beat up and left on the sidewalk, while Dylan and his motley crew steps over him. Not what we'd expect. I've watched it five or seven times. The ending leaves me hanging, and I have to believe the kid gets help (a young punk girl clad in black in the rear of the entourage is missing as the video follows Dylan going on down the road--did she stay behind with the poor kid and become a good Samaritan?)and will resume his relentless pursuit of that pretty freaked out girl.

So, I wait for what I hope will be another insightful work by Dylan when it releases on Sept. 11th. And I know from past experience, I won't be disappointed. The weird thing is, I'm anticipating something good on a day that represents a horrific event eleven years ago, which brings up a lot of conflicting emotions. Including guilt.

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