Still Go Barefoot wrote:
The most interesting thing about Dylan is that he still actively tours as much as he does... I am not giving up on him as an artist, but if I have the choice between watching a strung out Dylan snarling on the warpath on the edge of burning out completely, or watching an old Dylan who is completely secure in his place in music history, I'm going with the young guy without a second thought.
Good that you can still see strengths and hope in an active 70-year-old songwriter musician. Do a quick scan around and see who else is in this category and has been pushing it this hard for this long and is worth following. Ride those strengths like a freakin' train and enjoy the heck out of 'em! The dude's tough as nails and continues not to give a shit about what others want from him. Although I wonder if he feels as secure as you make it out to be. There seems to be a lot of unrealistic pressure put on him to be the old Bob, or one of the old Bobs, or even last night's Bob. Expectations will get ya every time. Beware!
...Drop me a note when you're in your 70's and let me know how well your keeping up with your 20's and 30's self...
Nobody is questioning Bob Dylan's motives as an artist these days. The collective public LOVES Bob Dylan. That's how a completely forgettable album like 'Together Through Life' still manages to score high reviews. And while people question his concert skills, nobody is booing him out of venues. In 1966, people were openly questioning him as an artist, calling him a "sell-out," yelling crap at his concerts. Dylan in 1966 had everything to prove, and Dylan today has almost literally nothing to prove. He's a consensus all-timer in music history. He could release five bad albums in a row and his place in history would not change.
This isn't, and shouldn't, be an age thing. It's a music thing. All I have to ask myself when it comes to this question is, "Will a single concert in 2012 be better than a single concert in 1966?" And the answer to that, unless Dylan does some mindblowing reinvention of himself this year, is no. Those 1966 concerts are one of the best examples of why I love Bob Dylan. They are staggering in their atmosphere and electricity. They represent Dylan in complete control of himself and his music. Fifty years from now, those concerts are still going to be titanic achievements. Fifty years from now, nobody is going to pull up a 2012 concert, and if they did, they wouldn't think, "This sounds spectacular." Or to put it another way, if the only thing we could ever judge Dylan on was his 1966 live work or his 2012 live work, Dylan's 1966 stuff STILL would sound spectacular. Wheras the 2012 stuff would give no clue whatsoever that Dylan could blow away a live audience or have any reason to be relevant. The only reason Bob Dylan in 2012 is interesting is because we know it's Bob Dylan. 1966 Dylan would be interesting if he had no history or context attached to him. There's just something there that's impossible to find anywhere else. Even 1975 Dylan (probably his second best live era, though the early acoustic concerts are great, too) doesn't have that same aura.