Dylan’s Recognition just beginning to reach his influence: Dylan wins Pulitzer

April 15, 2008

Monday April 7 Bob Dylan once again made history and proved the vastness of his influence on the current culture when he became the first rock star to win a Pulitzer Prize, one the highest honors of written art.  He won the prize for his “profound impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power.”

            This recognition of Dylan’s seemingly endless and consistent impact on American since the early ‘60s can only hint at his total and true impact.  As reported in a NewYork Times article “Pete Townshend once said of trying to assess it, ‘That’s like asking how I was influenced by being born.’”

            It has also been long argued that Dylan’s mid-‘60s trilogy consisting of Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde could be the greatest American cultural achievement of recent generations.  They are not without valid points.  With Bringing It All Back Home Dylan helped create the folk/rock genre and the ‘60s sound that would forever change rock.  In Bringing It All Back Home Dylan also made the first music videowith ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues.’  With Highway 61 he broke free from the two-and-a-half minute love song, opening with the epic six minute, antagonizing  ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ declared by Rolling Stone Magazinethe greatest rock song of all time. 

            With his songs and poetry Dylan has touched the hearts, beliefs and emotions of several generations of people and when you affect the people you affect the human culture reaching far beyond the realm of music.

            I feel that what makes Dylan so great besides the beauty and imagery of his poetry is the real emotion he instills into his songs.  He explores every human emotion writing them into the songs then using his voice to sing them onto the records. His singing voice is always emotion filled.  Listening to ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ it is hard to resist shouting out “How does it feel!!!” yourself.  Also, what I like about Dylan is the variety of emotions in his songs.  Anyone can shout anger or voice distress but Dylan voices desire, lust, regret, shame, joviality and many more just listen to Blonde on Blonde.

            And he continues to expand his influence touring worldwide and releasing new records exploring the many forms of American music.  Read my earlier post “Dylan: Far from Retired.”  He has always created and explored refusing to fall into a rut staying in one place too long.  His 40+ records include very successful ventures into folk, rock, the gypsy sound of Desire, blues, jazz, country, gospel and countless melding of them all.  His greatest achievements are just beginning to surface.


Variety Shows of Early Television

February 25, 2008

Originally posted at http://nostalgicbmy.blogspot.com

Something that I regret I could not witness was the popularity and prevalence of variety shows in early television. I like whole style of the of the variety show; bringing masses of celebrities and talents to the shows and the living rooms or the viewers. Even though they were celebrities when on the variety shows they became like everyone else. They performed but it was often much more lighthearted. They had fun and enjoyed working on these shows. They would gather in sets made up like living rooms often having several of the top talents coming together for an hour of fun and entertainment.

I also like how there was indeed variety in these shows. On the shows comedians, actors and musical performers were blended making an experience unique for that episode. There were so many of these shows hosted by Ed Sullivan, Dean Martin, Johnny Cash, Danny Thomas and many more. Dean Martin may have been the king of these with the Martin and Lewis Comedy Hour, the Dean Martin Variety shoe and his celebrity roasts. Another important element of variety television was the introduction to new and arriving talent (especially in the case of the Ed Sullivan Show).

Looking at today’s television we really have nothing equal to it. The closest would be the late night shows and sketch comedy shows like Saturday Night Live.

Have a look and see what I mean:

The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show

Phil Harris on the Dean Martin Variety Show (you might recognize him as the voice of Baloo on The Jungle Book)

Bob Dylan on the Johnny Cash Show

Louis Armstrong on the Dean Martin Variety Show

Johnathan Winters on the Dean Martin Variety Show

Dylan: Far from Retired

January 28, 2008

Bob Dylan has been getting a lot of press lately with documentaries, movies, magazine articles, and new CDs.  This new widespread public appreciation for all things Dylan is taking on the air of the rise of fame usually reserved to immediately follow the deaths of the greatest of authors, artists and celebrities.  Dylan is being appreciated in his lifetime as few others have. 

            Most of the new exposure to Dylan the public is getting also resembles that of dead artists; documentaries, books and movies all about Dylan, his work and his life. 

            Not only is Bob Dylan living but he continues in his music career. He has been touring worldwide almost nonstop since 1988 in what is being called the Never Ending Tour with over 2000 shows so far.  Along with the touring he has put out three new albums in 1997, 2001 and 2006.  All receiving great critical acclaim, especially the last two.

            Not only is Dylan still in business but he continues to move forward and remains in tune with the present.  Sometimes his being in tune with the present calls back to the 60s when he was called the Poet and Prophet.  Recently this has grown to be spooky. 

            His 2001 album Love and Theft’s was released Sept. 11, 2001 and contained the images of a world growing desperate and dark (especially in “High Water”).  This theme carried into his next album in 2006 Modern Times.  As stated in the Rolling Stone review,

It is inevitable to read “The Levee’s Gonna Break”–with its “people on the road carrying everything that they own”– in light of the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, just as it was impossible to hear Love and Theft‘s “High Water” on September 12th, 2001, the day after its release, without thinking of the World Trade Center.

With his most recent works Dylan is achieving some of his greatest successes.  In 2000 he won an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for best original song with “Things Have Changed” written for the film Wonder Boys. 

            His 2006 album Modern Times made #1 on the United States Billboard charts, his first since Desire (1976), making him the oldest person to make #1.  He was 65.   The album was also Bob Dylan's 'Modern Times'nominated for three Grammy’s winning two, including best solo rock performance.

          His new albums and music are quite different from “classic Dylan.”  They are a new and unique mixing of virtually all forms of uniquely American music blending jazz, blues, folk, folk/rock, country, rockabilly and even the classic big band sounds Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin used to sing to.  Again Dylan is creating his own sound and it is as true to his style as any past creations.

            I encourage you, in the midst of all the new publicity of Bob Dylan do not just turn to listening to the same few samples you have always heard.  Dylan is wonderfully gifted in creating and recreating and has given us many different expressions of music so do not limit yourself.  Explore the vastness of his talents and creations, new and classic.