Filing Cabinet of the Damned

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Eternal Verities

Some things are eternal, divorced from ephemeralities.

The sun rises and sets.

Rivers flow.

And music critics will proclaim each and every new Bob Dylan album "the greatest since 1975" and his "return to importance."

Oh Mercy, Time Out of Mind, Love and Theft, and now Modern Times, among others I can't recall right now, have been lauded as The Masterpiece Bob Dylan Comeback Album.

And each one is forgotten about three months after its release, only to be dredged up as the mere precursor to the new, better, true Masterpiece Bob Dylan Comeback Album of this year.

A Bob Dylan record review Mad Libs would be easy. To crib a bit from, here's a rough draft of one:

But the real achievement of the last decade is his magnificently rejuvenated career as an important recording artist. On [most recent album] and [second most recent album], Dylan reconnected to his songwriting muse.

Whether shouting above the supercharged rock on his classic mid-'60s albums or singing these [style of current album], he's always been [practitioner of style of current album]. Hardscrabble blues, 19th-century parlor ballads, gospel testimonies, ragtime, Tin Pan Alley tunes, [insert genre of current album]—Dylan's music has carried these echoes from the start, but never with such a sense of mission as in his recent work.

For those of us who've waited since [either "Blood on the Tracks" or "Blonde on Blonde"] for the Dylan of our youth, the great visionary artist, to return and grace us with his genius once again, it is time to celebrate.

Whatever Dylan's next album will be--perhaps a collection of eighteenth century folk tunes, perhaps a cover of songs from Guys and Dolls, perhaps a song cycle about Barney the Dinosaur, you can be certain that various press outlets around America will read just like this.

For some things, they are eternal.


  • I'm a huge Dylan fan, and your post is hilariously dead-on. My wife got me a subscription to Rolling Stone for a recent birthday, and the review of Modern Times is just like that.

    By Anonymous Mike Loughlin, at 10:57 AM  

  • Agreed. I'm also a Dylan fan, but it's gotten out of hand. (And quite frankly, aside from Time Out Of Mind, none of the other ones mentioned struck me as anything but desperated attempts to be kitschy).

    By Blogger Chris, at 12:55 PM  

  • To Chris: Hey, I liked Oh Mercy. Granted, this is largely because it was plyed nonstop in my mom's car when I five, six and seven (that tape literally got played to death) so maybe my perception is skewed, but still.

    As an aside, when new rock critics start taking over for the current ones, how long do you think it'll be before they start proclaiming albums like Down In The Groove or Empire Burlesque to be Dylan's best "forgotten" album-or even his best album post-Blood On The Tracks-in a desperate attempt to sound hip? I give it two weeks tops.

    By Anonymous Crowded House, at 2:45 AM  

  • That was frighteningly accurate. I've actually read that review, everywhere, for every new Dylan album in recent times, and it's *exactly* like that.

    They also use it, a bit rejigged, for new Robert Plant albums.

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