Bob Dylan – Things Have Changed

Bob Dylan is 75 on Tuesday. He released his 37th album, Fallen Angels, on Friday.

I haven’t heard Fallen Angels yet. If I’m honest, even though I think of myself as quite a fan, I’ve yet to explore properly those albums he’s released in the twenty-first century to date. Why is this? I can’t say for sure. I would say these albums have been overlooked in general, but you can’t really say anything by Dylan is overlooked. A theory I’m sketching out here is because Dylan exists in plain sight (the albums, the constant touring) he’s seen as part of the musical landscape but separate. Consequently any album that he releases now is not considered relevant to the time it’s being released in; not considered how Blonde on Blonde, released 50 years ago this week, was considered a part of the year 1966.

It’s only a sketch of a theory but I wouldn’t mind – if ever the time became available to me – writing something about this. The starting point for me would have to be ‘Things Have Changed’. Written for the soundtrack of the film Wonderboys and released as a single in 2000. It has a driving backbeat which, together with those up-in-the-mix
acoustic guitars, shrugs of the wooziness of Time Out of Mind – Dylan’s last record of the twentieth century.

Could ‘Things Have Changed’ be viewed as a statement of sorts? Ok, it may not be
as much a statement as John Wesley Harding was after Blonde on Blonde; not as much as a statement to be pored over as Fallen Angels or its predecessor Shadows In The Night – their exploration of the Great American songbook (Dylan has spoken of it as an ‘uncovering’) as interesting as the young Dylan taking up those old folk songs – might prove to be. Nevertheless the timing of the release is intriguing and the fact that it ushered in a run of albums, themselves all produced by Dylan.

So we should celebrate Dylan’s birthday on Tuesday. Listen to a song by him, listen to Blonde on Blonde (50 years!), listen to Fallen Angels, go and tell your friends and then the mountains. You know we really don’t have to wait.

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