I have a lot of Dylan in my collection and listen to frequently, but lately he makes me want to continually clear my throat....if you know what I mean. I guess I prefer him in not so modern times :)
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You've set the bar awfully low (the old Dylan vocals) for the more recent Dylan vocals.
This thread made me chuckle. Too many years ago, I had a college music professor who refused to call Dylan's craft "singing", instead referring to it as "some sort of free vocal expression". Either way, I will acknowledge that it works for Bob.
I'm with Muncybob: the late Dylan vocals have me looking over my shoulder for the Angel of Death. He didn't have far to fall, in a way, but his brilliant stylings used to compensate; now, not so much. IMO, of course.
By the way, if you're like me, and often like other people doing Dylan, you'll enjoy the pleasantly eclectic "Chimes of Freedom" tribute.
I remember the first time I heard a cut from Time out of Mind on the radio. Kind of shocked me. Wondered if he'd been taking voice lessons from Tom Waits. BUT - that was/is a great album, some of his strongest songs, I think. I got used to the singing and actually came to like it. I guess you could say his voice is an acquired taste. Definitely agree with Todd and Mapman - it's in character and suits his ("anachronistic") style.
I agree with you. He's at his Johnny Cash stage, although Johnny sounded worse and Dylan sounds better. I saw Modern Times while I was in Chicago for work several years ago. Bob was the headliner and Elvis Costello opened the show. I swore I would never waste my money on a Bob Dylan show again but this was a fine concert indeed, and his band was simply amazing. Bob Dylan is a cool dude. I read an interview he did where has mentioned that he took a vacation to Neil Youngs home town in Canada so he could see the house Neil grew up in. When I read that, I realized that Bob Dylan is a lot more like you and I than I ever knew.
I like old Dylan, new Dylan...any Dylan is ok with me. I find that any of his albums take several listenings before they become part of your DNA, so give them a chance. For voice, I prefer his middle period (Infidels, Desire, Street Legal), probably because I have heard them so often. I understand the criticism of Dylan's voice in recent years, but I'll still buy any new album that he puts out. It's the words I'm listening to, and if Dylan's singing them, I'm listening!
When I saw Dylan live last a few years back, his voice was a non-issue. His band was smokin and delivered most all of the goods on that particular night in Philly. Not always the case though based on accounts.
Its inevitable that age will affect the voices of the aging classic rockers these days. Some are starting to wilt to the detriment of their act (McCartney). Some manage to push on, at least for now (Moody Blues). Some seemingly go with the flow and make their technical deficiencies actually work for them stylistically in new ways (Dylan). I admire Dylan more than ever for that!
GOod comment above about the difference between technical proficiency and expressiveness in vocals!
I saw Dylan way back in the early days when he was starting to become a star. I think this concert was the first time I saw people light matches (not cell phones) waving to the music. Of course the matches were already out for other purposes (a dense fog if I remember).
At that time you could actually understand the words he was singing.
"Bob's singing works for his stuff"
TO me that's all that matters. I like the rough edges it adds to the otherwise smooth grooves found in many of his more recent recordings. It has a worn quality that reflects the years of use on it and adds credibility to the message of the song. It's never been pretty or technically refined. That's always been a big part of the Dylan package, like it or leave it. Still the case only more so.