I have seen Dylan on many tours and have to say that he isn’t always ”on”; I have to say the same about his songs, but, the same can be said of many musicians such as Young, Clapton and McCartney- a lot of their new material absolutely stinks. Even Dylan confessed he “had a good run”. I seen Dylan on tour with The Band and it was probably the most cohesive, but even then, it was kind of like he was angry at his audience. I seen Tracy Chapman open for him and she was great; Dylan wasn’t really “on” that night; the worse was when rock stars were doing the ‘unplugged’ concerts. He didn’t really mesh with ‘The Dead’, either, but, I seen him with Tom Petty at a baseball stadium and I thought at the time (this was before the Traveling Wilburys project), that it would be a bad match-up, but, they fit together like a glove. Even back in the early 70’s I remember being on some friend’s farm and a woman was discussing “Watching the River Flow” which he had released that summer and took issue with the lyrics about the idea of “wish I was back in the city Instead of this old bank of sand” (one has to understand the context; that this was during ‘the back to the land’ movement of the early 70’s) and I told her she was taking the lyrics too literally; that ‘the River’ was symbolic for ‘the system’, and no matter what happens, or gets in the way, ‘the System’ keeps on flowing. Of course, now, while my interpretation of the lyrics may have rung true, I realize she was probably right and Dylan was just being literal. That’s the ambiguity of Dylan’s lyrics. Often it is created by the listener’s own interpretation. Some of his songs have a deep personal meaning to me, especially off of “Blood On The Tracks”. When all is said and done, the pump still doesn’t work “‘Cause the vandals took the handles”.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store