Good As I Been To You, Bob Dylan, Columbia Records, 1992
The first paragraph of this review has been used to review other later Bob Dylan CDs.
Okay, okay I have gone on and one over the past year or so about the influence of Bob Dylan's music (and lyrics) on me, and on my generation, the Generation of '68. But, please, don't blame me. Blame Bob. After all he could very easily have gone into retirement and enjoyed the fallout from his youthful fame and impressed one and all at his local AARP chapter. But, no, he had to go out on the road continuously, seemingly forever, keeping his name and music front and center. Moreover, the son of a gun has done more reinventions of himself than one could shake a stick at (folk troubadour, symbolic poet in the manner of Rimbaud and Verlaine, heavy metal rocker, blues man, etc.) So, WE are left with forty or so years of work to go through to try to sort it out. In short, can I (or anyone else) help it if he is restless and acts, well, ....like a rolling stone?
All of this is by way of introduction to the latest group of CDs from the vaults of one Bob Dylan's vast repertoire of musical interests. I note that there is a touch of going back, way back, and a life times' summing up driving the music. I also note the increased emphasis on the music that influenced him early on in his rise to fame and many tips of the hat to the so-called American Songbook that he seemingly knows by heart. While we are all familiar with the various periodizations of the Dylan musical trajectory- folk troubadour a la Woody Guthrie, hard rockster, semi-Christian evangelical, old vaudeville showman and sentimental (for him) songster it is good to see him return once more to his beginnings. "Bringing It All Back Home", "Blonde On Blonde" and "Blood On The Tracks" will probably be his monuments in the folk/rock/pop pantheons but some of the late work, especially some of the covers of the early blues men like Skip James and Blind Willie McTell will endure as well.
Stick outs here include; a now timely cover of Stephen Foster's "Hard Times"; the classic, much covered (in various versions) "Frankie And Albert"; a tribute to the Mississippi Sheiks with "Sitting On Top Of The World"; the Irish freedom struggle -related "Arthur McBride (founder of Sinn Fein); and, a very crooner-like "Tomorrow Night". On this last one are we sure Dylan didn't want, among all his other personas, to be Frank Sinatra, or at least a wanna-be?