Saturday, February 23, 2013

Song & Dance Man: a would-be comprehensive introduction to the words & music of Bob Dylan


*clears throat*

*taps microphone*

*"Is this thing on?*

Blimey. It's been a while since I posted anything here, hasn't it? Now, where was I?

Ah, yes. I was in the middle of a lengthy series of posts which I never got round to finishing. At first because life got in the way, then because I felt too guilty about abandoning the damn thing to be able to face going back to it, and eventually just because I'd found other, more interesting creative outlets for the energy which had led to me setting up the blog in the first place. But I'm back now. For a little while, at least.


Within the past couple of months, more than one friend has expressed some form of idle curiosity regarding just what it is about Bob Dylan that gives him such a firm hold over my imagination. So, naturally enough, I decided to put together a short introductory playlist or two containing a few of his best songs to try and explain it to them.

Over a week later, I'd narrowed it down to my absolute favourites - the essentiallest of the essential, the truly indispensable - and was ready to start figuring out a running order that presented them in the best, most interesting light.

It was around then that I noticed that this shortlist contained over 100 songs.

A wiser mind than mine may have regarded this as a cue to get properly ruthless and trim it down further to a just dozen or so songs, partly for reasons of listener-friendliness and partly for reasons of not wanting to come across as an obsessive crazy person. But wisdom has never been my strong suit. So instead I decided to break Dylan's career down into approximately half-a-dozen key periods, eras within which his work told a clear and relatively self-contained narrative about the nature of his art. And...well, that's what I did. Then I figured it might be nice to add a few explanatory notes - after all, these playlists were originally intended for the ears of complete newcomers to Dylan, and since his career now stretches over more than 50 years, some context would probably help make it a little more digestible.

I'll be posting the first of them here shortly, with the rest to follow. See below for links.

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