Sunday, July 20, 2008

Every Bob Dylan Song - the (re)introduction

Hello. Again.

My name is Tony Ling, and this is my blog, Every Bob Dylan Song. Thanks for reading it!

This blog is dedicated to looking at the creative work of Mr. Bob Dylan, song by song. It's projected finishing date is sometime around 2021. Hope you'll stick around for that!

So why a blog about covering the career of an artist who's released dozens of albums and hundreds of songs, and that's before you even get to his archived and live material? That's a good question. And I think I have some good answers.

First off, I enjoy writing, and don't do it nearly enough. Like any muscle in your body, I feel like your writing ability needs constant exercise, and this is a way to work it out as much as possible. And if I can't write about my favorite artist, who or what can I write about?

Secondly, as I'd just mentioned, Bob Dylan is my favorite artist of all time, in any medium. I listen to his music every day, have read books about him, seen movies about him, and have seen him live in concert. And I realize that I am far from the first person to attempt to pay tribute to him in some way, but this is really the only way I can think of how to do that. And maybe, in some miniscule way, I can contribute to the legend that is Bob Dylan; I'm certainly contributing to the libraries worth of commentary and analysis and what have you about the man and his music.

It's not that writing about him is THAT hard, if I'm going to be honest. Look, there are certain bands and musicians for whom the music is only part of the appeal, just like there are certain bands and musicians for whom the music is the ONLY part of the appeal, completely self-contained. This is obviously just opinion, but look at a band like Coldplay. What do you think of when you think of Coldplay? Sure, you might think of the fact that they sound a lot like Radiohead (a meme that's reached the point where Chris Martin has to publicly state that Radiohead "gave them (their) career", which might not be true but had to be said just to get vultures like me off their backs), or that Martin might be the luckiest man alive for who he gets to wake up with every morning. But the music, to me, has no appeal outside of the fact that it's music, occasionally well-performed and well-written, but just music. It doesn't find any higher planes of existence - and, for the record, doesn't have to. But a Coldplay song is, in the end, just a song. Nothing more.

Now, of course, it's entirely unfair to compare most any musician/band to Bob Dylan and the body of work he's created. But let's think about this for a second. Depending on when you think rock and roll (i.e., modern music) started, either 1951 with "Rocket 88" or 1955 with Chuck Berry and Bill Haley, it's only been in existence for five-plus decades. Dylan has been alive for that entire span, and an active musician for maybe a decade less. Imagine that! Imagine having your recording career span folk music, 60s pop, 70s rock, 80s, er, whatever it is, 90s music, and the 2000s. Imagine a man as intelligent as Dylan, as capable of writing about damn near anything as Dylan, and think about how many topics he could cover, how many walks of life he could go through, how many pieces of our existence on this planet he can collect and synthesize into his own music. Dylan wrote about himself, and he wrote about us. That tends to make things easier to write about.

As a final note, I'm just going to say that this is NOT going to be an outright analytical blog, nor will it be biographical. If you want to read a great biography about Dylan (as well as a level of curmudgeon-ism that defies belief), Clinton Heylin's will do just fine. If you want to get really in-depth on the songs and how they were recorded, Paul Williams is your man. I'll go to websites and do some research to make sure I'm not printing something egregiously wrong (and even then...), but for the most part, I'm doing this from the gut, the same way I play poker. I'm a mediocre poker player, but that's not the point. This blog might get personal at times, and if that bothers you, I understand completely. But that's the way Dylan has affected me. He is as intrinsically a part of my life as baseball, The Simpsons, and Hunter S. Thompson's books are. I cannot imagine my life without him, and it's difficult to remember what life was like before I'd heard of him. My blog will be written, and should be read, with that in mind.

All right, pep talk over. That's all from me for now. Thanks to everyone that reads this blog, thanks to Expecting Rain for linking me (I've read the site since college, and it's truly amazing), and thanks, of course, to our man Bob, for everything.

PS: The hardest thing in life is to read about something you have no interest in; Lord knows that if I'm forced to read about quantum physics or changing spark plugs my eyes cross and I lose my sense of time. With that in mind, if anybody reads this blog once and decides it's not for them, I will not have a problem with that.

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1 comment:

Elvis Breastly said...

I'm hoping that this blog eventually reaches such stature that Bob Dylan finds it neccessary to write a song about the two introduction (non-song) posts.