Dylan's another Self Portrait pre-listen on NPR. Chicken Skin music?
If Bob Dylan's long career as a genius of the American spirit has taught us anything, it's that one fan's trash is another one's treasure. "I never looked at songs as 'good' or 'bad,' only different kinds of good ones," he once said. Dylan's music, from the magpie folk of his early years to the historically conscious balladry of his current albums, has always reminded us that our legacy includes not just ennobling beauty, but also minstrelsy, dirty blues, sentimental sappiness and rama-lama-ding-dong.
Nowhere is Dylan's ability to see the whole patchwork tapestry of our musical culture more evident than in the music he made in the very early 1970s, when he was running from his own burdensome greatness and jumping into the great scrap heap of American musical tradition.
During this period, Dylan produced one album, Self Portrait, that landed like a wet blanket and another, New Morning, that only partially redeemed the reputation he'd seemed so eager to escape. Yet Dylan's efforts from these years — highlighted on the latest in his ongoing Bootleg Series, titled Another Self Portrait (1969-1971), out August 27 — now seem prescient. This music is perfect for a 21st century in which taste hierarchies are fast dissolving and everybody realizes that there never was a pure "folk" or "country" or "blues" or anything, only massive borrowing and boundary-crossing and fruitful playing around. TBC here.