The Mighty Monkey Of Mim wrote:
I presume* the "solid notes" are the notes his voice can still hit, and there certainly are a few but I don't know if I'd characterize it as "plenty."
It's really not a matter of vocal range, if that's what you're getting at here. There are notes both high and low that are held out in this performance alone, and you can find the same to be true on various bootlegs from the early shows of most recent tours.
The croaks are where the only thing that comes out is a croak. He isn't choosing to make it croak there, it's a physical limitation that has developed over the years due to age and abuse of the vocal chords.
I would agree with this assessment for the most part, but what you're leaving out is that, when Bob is "on" (which seems to happen only on certain songs and in certain performances), even the "croaks" go toward expressing the lyrical and emotional content of the song. Listen from around 1:30 to 2:00 for examples of this: "she wrote me a LETTER, and she WROTE IT so kind" / "I don't see WHY...I should even CARE." At other times (maybe even most of the time) certainly, the croaks or barks get in the way of the song, but in this case, they bring out by contrast the significance of the words. Not Dark Yet is both a sorrowful song and an angry one, and to go from the bitter bark of "WHY" to the wistful "but it's gettin' there" is very effective, at least to my ears.
Often, he will employ a ubiquitous "technique" upon which he's become increasingly reliant: at any point where it might seem as if he's stumbled, he will immediately repeat his misstep 3 or more times in succession, as if to play it off and say "I meant to do that!" This was often quite effective when he had more range, but he doesn't have much to work with these days, resulting in some very bizarre sounds,
This is a jazz technique as well. I think I know what you mean, but I don't think it's as ubiquitous as you make it out to be. Now if we're talking about Dylan's organ playing, I am in 100% agreement with this statement. Vocally, I don't hear it happening that much.
hence the shift of focus toward "stage persona" and arrangements that are deliberately bizarre and repetitive
To your ear they may be deliberately bizarre, but if we're talking about the recent changes to Blind Willie, Things Have Changed & Cry A While, I'm going to respectfully disagree. All three of those arrangements inject new life into songs that had gotten stale in performance, and if you think they're bizarre, you should listen to more Captain Beefheart.
Nevertheless, for a performance of recent vintage, this NOT DARK YET isn't half bad. It hasn't been bizarrely and repetitively rearranged beyond recognition, and he at least makes an effort at a coherent vocal. The one-note harmonica solo even works a bit. Mostly.
I would say it's no more than 1/8th bad, and what's bad about it is actually the harmonica solo. Dreadful, in fact. It starts out promising, but becomes repetitive and melodically ineffective within 3 or 4 bars, and stays that way. If not for the harp solo, I would call this the best Not Dark Yet I've heard in years.
But again, only my opinion.