Bob Dylan hasn't lost hold of that magic gift quite yet. After 50 years in the business of storytelling, he has released his 36th studio album, Tempest
Select tracks were available for listening in various cities a couple of weeks ago, with a creative twist: you had to be standing within the radius of (sometimes hard to find) street art in order to stream the tracks. The album in its entirety was leaked last week, promptly followed by Dylan's official accounts linking to a free stream. My guess is that Dylan, being Dylan, didn't want to be one-upped - and rightfully so.
Although his voice has been criticized for years now, Dylan is still singing with his own, ever-changing special flair. While raspy at times, yes, he proves that he is still capable of producing a honey-dripping voice. Besides, Dylan's always been criticized for most anything (like being called 'Judas' for going electric all those years ago), so why should we expect people to stop trying to tear him down now?
The songs themselves range in both theme and length. You've got your dark and murderous songs, bizarre descriptions of women, love stories gone wrong, lyrics to make you laugh, and those to make you cry. The last two songs on the album: "Tempest" and "Roll On John," are easily the most emotional. While the title track is a nearly 14-minute story about the Titanic (including movie references and a shout-out to Leo), "Roll On John" is a heartfelt tribute to Dylan's friend, influence, and sometimes-rival John Lennon. If you're unaware of the rival I speak of, reacquaint yourself with 1979's "Gotta Serve Somebody"
and Lennon's response "Serve Yourself"
Despite this (and that strange cab ride in 1966
, Dylan reveals the loss he still feels, nearly thirty-one years after Lennon's untimely death.
Oh, and then you've got the bizarre video for "Duquesne Whistle." Have you seen this yet? Watch it again. If you ever see Dylan's gang roaming the streets, well, I'm not sure that I have any advice to give you. I can tell you, though, that after watching this, I certainly don't advise that you steal roses to impress girls that you're stalking.