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William C. Altreuter
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Sunday, August 07, 2005

I am usually pretty critical of Buffalo News rock critic Jeff Miers; he seems to think that if he liked it when he lived in a dorm, then it must be pretty good, and he has a mullet. Credit where credit is due, however, he does know his Dylan. Presumably because he hangs around Jeff Simon he can't resisist name-dropping, and if you wait long enough he'll be sure to mention that the intro Dylan has used on tour for the past few years comes from a column he wrote. ("The poet laureate of rock 'n' roll. The voice of the promise of the '60s counterculture. The guy who forced folk into bed with rock, who donned makeup in the '70s and disappeared into a haze of substance abuse, who emerged to 'find Jesus,' who was written off as a has-been by the end of the '80s, and who suddenly shifted gears and released some of the strongest music of his career beginning in the late '90s." Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Columbia recording artist Bob Dylan.) If it's could enough for Dylan, it certainly is good enough for me, even if Miers has told the story almost as many times as Simon has told the one about being the only white guy at the Dizzy Gillespie show.

I mention it because Miers got it right about Dylan in last Friday's Gusto. " Dylan is today and always has been inscrutable. That never stopped anyone fascinated by his genius from attempting to unravel him. It's a waste of time, of course, albeit an interesting one. Dylan has long made it clear that he's only interested in the songs, and that if you like his music, that's all you should care about, too.

"This may sound cynical, but consider: Dylan has never claimed to be anything but a touring musician and songwriter, a guy leading a band through some of the greatest songs likely to be written in my lifetime and yours. He'd like his music to be heard by people; his constant touring and reinvention of his material suggests he'd rather be considered a living, breathing artist than a stuffed museum piece or a particularly incorrigible bit of taxidermy."

Exactly.

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