Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter

Friday, September 08, 2006

Ron Rosenbaum weighs in on "Modern Times"-- he doesn't like it. I'm surprised and a bit disapointed that he's such a moldy fig. Of course he has a lot invested in "Blonde on Blonde" era Dylan-- it was Roesenbaum who interviewed him for Playboy when he gave the "thin, that wild mercury sound," quote, and he has been dining out on it ever since.

His critique seems to be based on the notion that a "roots" sound is wrong for Dylan, which seems wrong to me on a couple of levels. First, I don't think you can really call "Modern Times" all that roots-y". It's got a rock'n'roll feel to it, and rock'n'roll is certainly rooted in the blues, but this is not a John Fahey side by any stretch. I'm also troubled by the notion that Dylan should be expected or obliged to re-invent rock every time out of the box. If we take 1951 as the starting place ("Rocket 88", natch), the form was 15 years old when Dylan recorded "Like A Rolling Stone" and changed the genre forever. There haven't been too many rock paradigm shifts since, I'd say, although it would be interesting to chart them. It's a lot to expect that Dylan would or should change it more than once-- what he has done since then has been to write a lot of great songs, and release some great albums. It's probably a little early, but it seems to me that "Modern Times" belongs on the shelf with, oh, "John Wesley Harding", maybe, or perhaps "Nashville Skyline". Is that the same shelf as "Highway 61 Revisited" or "Blood on the Tracks"? Probably not-- but it ain't "Self Portrait" either.

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