Friday, December 30, 2011
I love these folk-rock hero guys, with their scruffy looks, unkempt attitude - put on whatever is on the floor - their wild hair and bad skin and bad teeth and scarves and thrift chique. I'll put myself in their snakeskin boots, in their dirty fingernails. I already have dirty fingernails. I guess my lag time is about forty years, enough for someone to become a historical artifact, something I seem to really respond to.
What's harder is the brazen boy confidence, the young ignorance, willful file-cabineting of so much of what they see and feel. They see and feel it all, notice every detail, but they file it and write a song later. Not afraid to lie, cheat, steal, misrepresent, overstate themselves. They have nothing, so they have nothing to lose. They are willing to put it all on the line. They can call up the goods in the moment. They can be real when they need to be. They can be fake when they need to be. Makes me quake in my nascent snakeskin boots, but I want me some of that. Something so free and single-minded about the arrow pointing exactly which way. Doesn't happen often.
Allen Ginsberg says that Dylan onstage in the mid-60's had found a way to be "all breath - a column of air" - whirling in and up and out into the audience, a complete eye-of-the-nervous-system-tornado, a communion in wind.
That Dylan was a performing genius has finally dawned on me, don't know why I missed it before. I've been feeling the evidence of it for years, but got it in my mind that he was songwriting genius but a performing hack - totally wrong. He was interested in precisely everything about performance - hyper-aware of the moment - really singing the s-o-n-g - annunciating - over-annunciating, the words, teasing out every vowel, consonant, syllable, pushing his interpretation and investigation to the maximum, to the point of caricature.
He was known for going into the studio and recording single-take final takes, one after another, all in the same night, for his records. Admits he never really got into the whole recording side of recording.