Letters: Bob Dylan's talent blowing i...

Letters: Bob Dylan's talent blowing in the wind

There are 67 comments on the Monterey County Herald story from Jul 9, 2010, titled Letters: Bob Dylan's talent blowing in the wind. In it, Monterey County Herald reports that:

This is for Bob Dylan, who is rumored to be gigging here at the fairgrounds next month.

Join the discussion below, or Read more at Monterey County Herald.

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Glenda Brownback

United States

#1 Jul 9, 2010
Mr. Middlebrook:

If you don't like what he is doing--stay home! I've seen your type of loyalty before. I saw the foikies leave. I saw the "oh no-not country!" group leave. I saw the Christians who didn't want HIM to be "vocal" about it leave. Group after group-left. He was too complicated. He was too simple. He was too Dylan. He wasn't Dylan enough. The great remarkable event was to watch the turn around. The old crowd are still leaving, but an entire new group is coming in...younger, better educated. They like his early songs, but they know the obscure songs also, and they identify with and adore the new songs.

His abstract, interior monologues have clicked into some great missing NEED. I watched my own brother put on a Dylan CD and leave it "ON" for a year. It spoke to his middle aged confusion and feelings of loss. I have a 90 year old friend who asked for Dylan tickets-for the first time. What I feel as part of the original generation, is that he is the ONE artist who identified our youthful concerns and is now doing that for our AGING-ADULT concerns. "Forgetful Heart" speaks to any one who has dealt with losing parents. "When the deal goes done" is holding our hands as we think about our own coming deaths. THESE ARE AMAZING THEMES. To find them on a CD-voiced with compassion and love by someone who has been a good friend for decades...is maybe the biggest surprise.

There has been-suddenly-a serious of these "quit" messages hit the media. He didn't listen all the other times so called fans yelled at him, he will FOR OUR SAKE, ignore you also. Thank God! These are hard times, and we feel vulnerable. We need him.

But especially he will stay because like a wonderful grandfather, YOUNG PEOPLE are filling his concerts. Ask them why. Is it that in a totally FAKE world--he has stayed TRUE and REAL and HUMBLE? He is both the rebel, and the wise man. He is funny and extremely moving. He gives us a reconsidered version of the youthful genius. But he also gives us the solace of the new songs. Have you REALLY listened? The YOUNG PEOPLE need such a figure. They need someone who will play Santa for them. He is letting his audience sing along with him now! He is currently closing many concerts with "Forever Young". It is his way of saying "thank you". The YOUNG PEOPLE have made him happy--everyone can see it. He is enjoying performing for them.

All of you "quitters"--go find someone else to please you. We know what we want.
We want Mr. Bob--doing it HIS way once again.
Customer

United States

#3 Jul 9, 2010
If some people want more business in their store, they shouldn't give every customer a dirty look as they enter the store. That's why I go to Gasper's.

Light rail between Monterey and Salinas? Guess we could call it "The Gangbanger Express".

Bullet train between Monterey and SF? How many commuters could afford it?
PGjack

San Jose, CA

#4 Jul 9, 2010
Jeffrey Van Middlebrook seems to be trolling for trouble. Bob still draws well, has fans in even the youngest generation and is still creative. I suppose it's up to him to decide when he wants to stop touring, after all, he's Bob Dylan, Jeffrey Van Middlebrook is Jeffrey Van Middlebrook. Dylan writes a lot better and judging which of his numerous albums is the best is purely subjective.
Molloy

Mitcham, UK

#5 Jul 9, 2010
Glenda Brownback has it absolutely right! Having seen Dylan perform last Saturday here in England at the Hop Farm Festival, and having squeezed my way through the crowd to get right to the front (I swear Bob looked right at me) it was clear to see that he was enjoying the performance as much as we were.

I'm in my 20s and (as Glenda says) the crowd, at the front at least, were for the most part people of my age. And the reason I, and I assume my peers, go to see Dylan is because he still represents something that is extremely unique, something extremely inspiring and something we fail to find among those (so called) artists of our own generation. Fortunately for us Dylan is timeless and transcends the claims that any single generation may feel they have on his music. When (as someone not of his generation) you come to appreciate Dylan's music it's one of those moments that, like coming to the works of Samuel Beckett or the films of Ingmar Bergman for the first time, your eyes are somehow opened and the music and books and films that had previously interested you seem to become somewhat adolescent in comparison.

I saw Dylan perform for the first time last year in London and found it unforgettable; but then to see him on Saturday it was an experience that exceeded the London gig. I don't know if that was purely because of the difference in atmosphere between an arena show (in London) and a festival (on Saturday) or not, but the crowd (as Glenda says) were singing along with him and Dylan was clearly enjoying it. At one point during his performance of Like A Rolling Stone he looked across to Tony Garnier with, what could possibly be, the widest grin I've seen on anyone! He then finished his set with Forever Young which (as Glenda again says) would be nice to think was his way of saying thank you.

Anyway, I for one hope the Never ending Tour never ends; and I hope he comes back to England soon!

Hop Farm Festival, Like A Rolling Stone:

&fe ature=related

Hop Farm Festival, Forever Young:

http://www.youtube.com/watch...
Frank Threekings

Blue Springs, MO

#6 Jul 9, 2010
Howdy Mr. M,

Hope my name isn't too cryptic. If you check it out closely enough, you might get a clue.

But enough of that BS. Seems like the others taking time to write have taken you to task with more vigor than I care to exert. But after all, at 59, I am quite aged and without the immediatcy of the moment I once felt.

Oh dear. Where was I? Oh yes. Mr. Dylan. The gentleman is a musician and writer. I don't seem to remember him ever to claim being more than that. I enjoy his recent recordings, seeing yet another side of Bob Dylan. That is all that really matters. Whether you find him irrevalent as a poet or performer matters little.

When the truth of his genius is revealed, we shall find we've seen few like him trod this earthly road.

Since: Sep 09

Carmel Valley, CA

#7 Jul 9, 2010
Oh dear... I didn't realize it was "... time, dude,[for Bob] to hang it up." Or that Bob had "...lost it a long time ago, and that [he is] mocking [his] devoted fans."

Damn. I guess that means we must implore Maya Angelou, Robert Bly, Margaret Atwood, Leonard Cohen, Annie Dillard, Mary Oliver, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, et al to hang up their pens because they're getting so long in the tooth.

I suppose that also means that we must forgo reading William Shakespeare, Walt Whitman, Willa Cather, Dylan Thomas, Anais Nin, William Carlos Williams, Gertrude Stein, or Robert Frost (dang - he was OLD when he read his poem at the inauguration of John Kennedy - like, WAY older than Bob Dylan is now). They all outlived their usefulness as poets. Shame on them for letting nature take her course and aging.

I suppose we must also thank the likes of Sylvia Plath for pro-actively removing herself from the mix before she passed her prime. Or before she even got close to approaching it. And I guess that Mark David Chapman performed a valuable service by ridding the world of John Lennon before he got any older.

I thank Mr. Middlebrook for pointing out this grave oversight to me. It will save me much time in the future since I won't have to bother with reading all of these people, past and present, who've exceeded their collective 'good by' date.

And now that I've been enlightened, don't EVEN get me started on the Rolling Stones, Barbra Streisand, or Paul McCartney.

Now whatever shall I do with the Bob Dylan tickets that I've already purchased?? Anyone? Anyone?
Danielle Lago

Santa Cruz, Bolivia

#8 Jul 9, 2010
You are rather imbecilic in your comments about Dylan. You clearly do not understand art. Its like telling John Lee Hooker or Mississippi John Hurt or Muddy Waters to hang up their boots.....rather arrogant ageist and supremely un-hip of you. Why? Just coz Bob doesn't do what you think he should. Picasso changed his style well into his 90's Michelangelo was still going in his 90s. Modern Times was a number one album all over the world in 2005. Love and Theft is a great album and Together Through Life is superb. His concert last year at Rothbury's was sublime. Blood on the Tracks is a fine album but how exactly is "Meet me in the Morning" better than "Ain't Talkin"? How exactly is "Jack of Hearts" better than Workingman's Blues"? How precisely is "If you See Her Say Hello" better than "Forgetful Heart" You cannot answer this question adequately can you? Moreover Time Out of Mind a later great work and best album Grammy winner is just as good as anything he has ever done. I assure you Mark that Dylan's work and standing will survive your rather mindless and nonsensical attack.
Danielle Lago

Santa Cruz, Bolivia

#9 Jul 9, 2010
Dylan doesn't need me to defend him, but a slightly different take on this is to protest the appalling lack of human compassion in the above article. I would not talk about a rabid dog with the tone of the article. Even if you did think those unkind (and erroneous) things, surely Mr Dylan has given you enough even in the distant past to inspire some restraint. He is not an object. Bob Dylan is a human being and does not deserve such disrespect on that basis alone. The moderator insists on politeness in the responses. WHAT ABOUT SOME OF THAT IN THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE?
neutral

Pacific Grove, CA

#10 Jul 9, 2010
LOL, reminds me of when my daughter was 8 or 9 and I'd put in a Dylan cassette and she'd plead, "No, Mom, turn it off." 10 years later, when she graduated from high school, a boy with an unrequited crush on her gave her a mix CD for a graduation present. It had "Buckets of Rain" on it.......... "Everything about you is bringing me misery." She left it with me when she went to college. She probably won't be going to Bob's concert, either; but, for some of us, his music is part of the soundtrack to our lives.
Jeffrey Van Middlebrook

Dallas, TX

#11 Jul 9, 2010
Ha, ha, am I delighted or what to have elicited so much knee-jerk commentary!! Did any of you get it that I am the quintessential Dylan devotee? Do any of you who have opined on my missive understand a song like Visions of Johanna? Bet you don't, but of course you'll pretend you do because it's always been hip to pretend you understand Dylan. What was it Dylan said in his Positively 4th Street song: "...do you think I'd make contact with one who tries to hide what he don't know to begin with..." Get my drift?

I've been to three Dylan concerts over the decades and only one was "Dylan brilliant". The other two were atrocious. And some of my Brit pals saw him in the last couple of years and said he was terrible. It's not a matter of going with his many changes over the decades because some of them were artfully great, but what about his Jesus era? Was that art or was it dogmatic brainless drivel?

Every artist has his/her cutting edge era, and Dylan is no exception. How is it art when he changes the melodies and tempos of his old masterpieces from the Sixties? Why can't he write new stuff as good as what he wrote then? It's because he has lost that fire. Singing old songs from 40 years ago with new melodies is not art, and if you think it is you don't understand.

If any of you are classical music fans (probably not given the substance of your commentaries) would you feel ripped off if you paid $100 to see/hear your favorite world-class pianist/cellist/violinist only to have them play untuned instruments and deliberately mess up the compositions? Of course you would. So why should it be any different for Dylan? If you think that his deliberate messings is art, God help you! Hey, maybe if I get up on a stage bare naked and take a dump in front of 10,000 people I can say it's art? Wow, I might even be hailed an avant garde genius!
Glenda Brownback

Fayetteville, TX

#12 Jul 9, 2010
FIFTY YEARS AND MIDDLEBROOK BOTHERED TO GO TO ---3---CONCERTS?
NO WONDER! THE LAST TIME I SAW LIGHTNING HOPKINS-(old man)--HE DID ALL HIS "OLD" SONGS ON AN ELECTRIC GUITAR SHOWING US KIDS THAT HE COULD DO ANYTHING JIMI HENDRIX COULD DO...SO...SO MUCH FOR DOING IT THE SAME EVERY TIME.
NOW THAT WAS A FUN NIGHT!
RVM

United States

#15 Jul 9, 2010
You are not important in the scheme of what Dylan has done. Millions of his fans think they are quintessential (the essence of a thing in its purest and most concentrated form) but you are delighted or what to have trolled a lot of vitriol based on your mean and foolish letter. Your opinion, like your butt, is common in that everyone has one and if you're not careful it stinks. As to your question, "Slow Train Comin'" was indeed brilliant. Dylan, unlike some who write as a way to stir up conflict, is never brainless. Reinterpreting one's work is one of the primary focuses of an artist. Classical music often dwells on 40, if not 400 year old tunes. If Beethoven or Mozart rewrote or changed a tune later, damn right I'd want to hear it. What do you mean untuned? Dylan's show at the Greek in Berkeley last October was masterful. His guitarist Charlie Sexton opened whole new neural pathways through familiar songs suddenly new to the ear. One last thing...you can take all the dumps you want, you will never be hailed as a genius, avant-garde or otherwise. Stick to writing little guides about running in the woods
or whatever. You won't be missed in the SRO crowd at Monterey.
neutral

Pacific Grove, CA

#16 Jul 9, 2010
Jeffrey Van Middlebrook wrote:
Ha, ha, am I delighted or what to have elicited so much knee-jerk commentary!! Did any of you get it that I am the quintessential Dylan devotee? Do any of you who have opined on my missive understand a song like Visions of Johanna? Bet you don't, but of course you'll pretend you do because it's always been hip to pretend you understand Dylan. What was it Dylan said in his Positively 4th Street song: "...do you think I'd make contact with one who tries to hide what he don't know to begin with..." Get my drift?
I've been to three Dylan concerts over the decades and only one was "Dylan brilliant". The other two were atrocious. And some of my Brit pals saw him in the last couple of years and said he was terrible. It's not a matter of going with his many changes over the decades because some of them were artfully great, but what about his Jesus era? Was that art or was it dogmatic brainless drivel?
Every artist has his/her cutting edge era, and Dylan is no exception. How is it art when he changes the melodies and tempos of his old masterpieces from the Sixties? Why can't he write new stuff as good as what he wrote then? It's because he has lost that fire. Singing old songs from 40 years ago with new melodies is not art, and if you think it is you don't understand.
If any of you are classical music fans (probably not given the substance of your commentaries) would you feel ripped off if you paid $100 to see/hear your favorite world-class pianist/cellist/violinist only to have them play untuned instruments and deliberately mess up the compositions? Of course you would. So why should it be any different for Dylan? If you think that his deliberate messings is art, God help you! Hey, maybe if I get up on a stage bare naked and take a dump in front of 10,000 people I can say it's art? Wow, I might even be hailed an avant garde genius!
Why are you putting so much thought into this? Some people just like to take things at face value. If people want to go to his concert they can, if they don't, then they don't. What does it matter to you? Or are you just bored or something? People, also,
don't like to be laughed at when they're being sincere-so stop being so obnoxious.

Since: Sep 09

Carmel Valley, CA

#17 Jul 9, 2010
Where to start. Where to start. Okay, let’s start here:

You stated that “…the consensus of all of us from the '60s who hung on every brilliant metaphor you penned that you lost it a long time ago…”
- you do NOT get to speak for me and where did you conduct your concensus?

You stated “…that most of your concerts these past couple of decades have been you mocking your devoted fans.”
- see above.

You stated that you are “…delighted to have elicited so much knee-jerk commentary!!”
- oh, I see – because everyone disagrees with you it’s a ‘knee-jerk’ reaction? And it doesn’t occur to you that maybe you’re just wrong?

You stated that you are “…quintessential Dylan devotee.”
- mmm, no. you’re not. And just because you’ve been to three whole Bob Dylan concerts in your life doesn’t make you an expert.

You ask “Do any of you who have opined on my missive understand a song like Visions of Johanna?”
- do you? If so, enlighten us. I suspect that you actually don’t.

You quote Bob and infer that Bob wouldn’t ‘make contact’ with any of us "...do you think I'd make contact with one who tries to hide what he don't know to begin with..."
- so are you actually implying that Bob would ‘make contact’ with you because you are “the quintessential devotee?” that’s quite a reach.

You state “How is it art when he changes the melodies and tempos of his old masterpieces from the Sixties? Why can't he write new stuff as good as what he wrote then?”
- because it is. Period. I’ve heard many artists cover Leonard Cohen’s song ‘Hallelujah’– including Bob Dylan. Each artist covers it differently. By your ‘standards’ there would only be one ‘correct’ way to sing it. And that’s just plain ridiculous Mr. Devotee. Apparently YOU don’t ‘get’ Bob Dylan. They’re his songs, his poetry. He gets to sing them however he wants. Even if YOU don’t agree with him.

You asked “If any of you are classical music fans (probably not given the substance of your commentaries) would you feel ripped off if you paid $100 to see/hear your favorite world-class pianist/cellist/violinist only to have them play untuned instruments and deliberately mess up the compositions?”
- snarky put down aside, I would feel uncomfortable if a world class anybody played an unturned instrument. But that’s not what you were complaining about, now was it? Bob Dylan does not have untuned instruments. You know that, right? I’m assuming you never saw West Side Story? The Lion King? Kurosawa’s Ran? A Thousand Acres? My Own Private Idaho? Because those are all adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays.

Since: Sep 09

Carmel Valley, CA

#18 Jul 9, 2010
Jeffrey Van Middlebrook wrote:
<quoted text>
I would pay $100 and more to see Dylan again if I could trust he wasn't going to be a huge disappointment again. I don't trust the dude live.
I and many others profusely thank you for NOT paying your $100 to see Dylan because YOU would be disappointed. We wouldn't want our wa disturbed by your negativity.

Doesn't seem like you've been to many shows that you like. My suggestion? Buy albums/CD's, stay at home and never be disappointed ever again.
capt crunch

Salinas, CA

#20 Jul 10, 2010
He sang like an old man when he was young. The old man now probably still can't sing like Placido Domingo or play great guitar solos but what else could you do with $100.00. maybe buy food for a couple weeks.
I dunno

United States

#21 Jul 10, 2010
I don't mean this in a bad way and don't mean to discredit Dylan or his followers..

I am Dylan's age and I never did understand his appeal..

I've often wondered if it is because I was wasn't a part of the hippie/drug culture of that time..
bobfan

Monterey, CA

#22 Jul 10, 2010
Wow..what a narrow minded OLD curmudgeon,cynical and mean spirited man you are Jeff to infer Bob needs to hang it up!
The man is still brilliant and an icon and yeah he still does perform...saw some of his shows in recent months.
Maybe it is YOU that has lost it but not Bob.
I for one will be there in the front row and plan to enjoy every note and honor THE MAN...
the pink poodle

Monterey, CA

#23 Jul 10, 2010
Jeff...what a downer you are.....while you are enjoying your narrow mind I will be enjoying the show.
Crack Baby

Monterey, CA

#24 Jul 10, 2010
Methinks JVM relishes stirring the pot as per usual on many assorted topics over the years....I have strong musical opinions as well but don't insist on inflicting them on the public at large...most of the time..Clapton slowed down Layla and it worked,Dylan changed the tempo of All Along the Watchtower to match Hendrix's version....the original artist has leeway to do whatever he wants to his own songs...as far as JVM goes, hell that's another available seat...BD's concerts do have a rep of being sketchy at times, just like everyone else who has intense scheduling...we're going to be in the front row, I've never seen him live, hope he's on it...if not...it's going to be fun just being there regardless because I enjoy the collective energy of like-minded folks...and Charlie Sexton adds a great flavor to the Dylan mix too..."No reason to get excited"

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