Tuesday, August 29, 2006

A whompin' good time

Play it: Bob Dylan - Modern Times
Free full album stream (AOL)
Music Video for "When The Deal Goes Down" (AOL)
You think I'm over the hill / Think I'm past my prime
Let me see what you got / We can have a whompin' good time

- "Spirit on the Water" Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan's Modern Times casts an awfully large shadow on the rest of today's releases (you'll find Ray Lamontagne's excellent Til the Sun Turns Black lurking there,) and with good reason. Modern Times finds Dylan dancin' and swingin' (and whompin') like he's got no use for getting old. Filled with pleny of suggestive lines like "I got the porkchop, she's got the pie," the whompin' is prevalent here.

Modern Times is ironic as a title given it's old-timey feel... as it's laced with ragtime and boogie blues. While he can bypass the style of modern music, Dylan, much to his chagrin, can't avoid the perils of the perils of recording in these modern times.
You listen to these modern records, they're atrocious, they have sound all over them. There's no definition of nothing, no vocal, no nothing, just like -- static. Even these songs probably sounded ten times better in the studio when we recorded 'em. CDs are small. There's no stature to it. I remember when that Napster guy came up across, it was like, 'Everybody's gettin' music for free.' I was like, 'Well, why not? It ain't worth nothing anyway.'
- Bob Dylan, Rolling Stone Magazine
This quote has been taken out of context recently, with folks lining up to prove him wrong with favorite albums in tow. But it's not the albums persay as it is the compression with which digital recording forces on the sound. Dylan has shown plenty of appreciation for artists of today, even name-dropping Alicia Keys on the opening track "Thunder on the Mountain": "I was thinking 'bout Alicia Keys, I couldn't keep from crying/While she was born in Hell's Kitchen, I was livin' down the line."

Speaking of appreciation beyond the constricts of time, the song "The Levee's Gonna Break" sounds like it could be talking about either 1927 or 2005. It's fitting it sees release today, as it's on the anniversary of Katrina's landfall... especially remembering that his last album, Love and Theft, was released on September 11, 2001. Dylan's music is inextricably linked with this country and while the song's bouncing blues make the tragedy sound like fun, it's probably what we all need in these Modern Times - a whompin' good time.

Previous:
If you're going to sell out... (Bob Dylan: The Essential Interviews)
Bob, Neil and Bruce (Paste Magazine's 100 Best Living Songwriters)

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1 comment:

drake leLane said...

Bob Dylan - Modern Times

1. Thunder on the Mountain
2. Spirit on the Water
3. Rollin' and Tumblin'
4. When the Deal Goes Down
5. Someday Baby
6. Workingman's Blues #2
7. Beyond the Horizon
8. Nettie Moore
9. The Levee's Gonna Break
10. Ain't Talkin'