Dylan’s songs were, for me, exhilaratingly liberated from all of the historical baggage that they have been laden with. This, the great achievement of the show, was clearly and ironically one of the main sticking points for the critics. Many of them perceived the songs as less powerful, stripped of the associations that they clearly prefer to hold onto in their own minds (Vietnam, the sixties, and the same old malarkey). To this attendee, it was nothing short of glorious to hear these songs not as symbols or as anthems for any avaricious ideologies, but as the profound and revealing meditations on human nature that they are — and as just damned great songs to boot. The show was by turns humorous, poignant, frivolous and somber — and all of this, every twist and angle — came right out of the Bob Dylan songs themselves.
Right you be, RWB. It reminds me of the time Pete Seeger tried to pull the plug on Bob Dylan’s electric band, because the true folk-singers knew what Bob Dylan is supposed to sound like.
And so do I. Something that stretches your imagination, hints at possibilities, and takes you someplace you haven’t been before. Something that sounds different and new every time you hear it.
Hopefully Twyla Tharp’s amazing production will reopen in more hick towns like San Diego, where the theater critics aren’t quite as informed as those who tell New Yorkers what’s worth seeing.