Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Love It or Hate It: The Levee's Gonna Break

Song: The Levee's Gonna Break
Artist: Bob Dylan
Album: Modern Times

The first Love It or Hate It I posted was the latest Jessica Simpson song "Public Affair." Jessica, like most pop stars is judged more for personality and style than her actual music, Bob Dylan on the other hand has the opposite, he is revered based on his history and the music he has made, his style is probably the last thing you think of. But this does not mean that he does not polarize people. So therefore, once again, I would like to put up for critique a new Dylan song, "The Levee's Gonna Break" from his new album "Modern Times," which is being released today.

Bob Dylan's career is older than I am, and because my parents were children of the fifties and grew up in the sixties, I have grown up with Mr. Dylan's music my whole life. "Modern Times," his thirty first album (!!!) comes after recent critical smashes "Time Out of Mind" (1997) and "Love & Theft" (2001.) "Modern Times" is now added to these three as some of the most critically praised and well regarded records of his career. The few reviews I have read of this new record are nothing short of glowing. (five stars in Rolling Stone) You can read a few of these here: http://www.metacritic.com/music/artists/dylanbob/moderntimes

"I don't know anybody who's made a record that sounds decent in the past 20 years, really," Dylan recently said in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine. "You listen to these modern records, they're atrocious, they have sound all over them," he added. "There's no definition of nothing, no vocal, no nothing, just like ... static."

Well, I obviously disagree with this, but this clearly makes Dylan's latest perfect for Love It or Hate It...

It's hard to argue with the career and influence Bob Dylan has had over music throughout the past five decades. His songs have been covered by just about every major artist in music today and many have built their careers around these covers. In the late fifties and early sixties, Dylan was at the forefront fo the folk/rock movement and did much to change the music business as it is today. This is why these comments are both troublesome and ridiculous, although right in line with how human nature and generation wars are.

Music has, since it's birth, defined the generation that embraces it. New types of music rise up and challenge what was there previous. Rock & Roll did so in the 50's, was considered "devil music" by the generation on the way out and really helped solidify the people to embark on the social change that continued with the flower power/psychedelic era of the 60's. It is no surprise that hip hop, the most important new music genre in the last two decades, is not popular with these former hippies as it is part of the new social landscape of music and culture. But again, this just follows with the cyclical nature of popular culture.

So while Dylan's comments are not surprising, but in a way expected, this does not discount what he is doing as an artist. I've been listening to this new record a lot and while it's probably not something I will listen to a ton, these are some really killer songs that may sound old in form and approach, they reflect our well... modern times. He even spends a song searching the mountains for Alicia Keys!

I can't tell if "The Levee's Gonna Break" has anything, even metaphorically to do with New Orleans. But I chose this song because I liked it, and given the one year anniversary footage we are seeing now of the devastation and social collapse that Hurricane Katrina caused, it seems fitting. There is hope within the lyrics and hope is all I have right now for this country as it stands. Without going too overboard I must just say that given Dylan's comments, the times that he came up in, and where we are at now, this just seems all too appropriate. The levee's did break, and I wonder to myself... did we learn anything?

The times they are changin' yes... they always do, but some things don't, for better or worse. Thank Bob Dylan for still creating music that is both timeless and yet reflecting exactly how out of step you can be to what is "now." It's okay, it's alright, but let us also not rest on the shoulders of those that came before and mourn for past times and days gone by. We have to make new times, new generations, and new music. Because when the levee breaks again, no matter where or when it is, we'll all have to survive together.

So let me know reader, do you Love It or do you Hate It? I will tally the votes by the end of the week.


1 comment:

Josh said...

I loves it! Great track...

Methinks I will pick this CD up!