Bob Dylan, Artist
Although comparisons of fine art (painting, sculpture) to music don’t do much for me, I do find a great deal of inspiration in the life story of Bob Dylan. His commitment to the creativity and originality of his art form is a legacy that all of us should appreciate.
Last year I happened to be on the road and in San Francisco, to take down my one-man show. What better thing to do than to pick up a new Bob Dylan CD for the long road trip back to Spokane? And, luckily, a Fisherman’s Warf Starbucks happened to have it. The new “double album” set that co-released with Martin Scorcesee’s movie of the same name about the bard is called No Direction Home.
The director chose, wisely, to limit the scope of the documentary to the period of Dylan’s meteoric rise to fame, 1961 – 1966. In the early sixties, I was the same age as my own children are now. In the fever pits of Greenwich Village, the young Dylan was absorbing the currents of modern culture and music. He “saw” (or heard) with clarity unmatched, the direction that popular culture was taking. Moreover, he saw where it needed to go! In the old days, we called that a leader. Another phrase would be individual creativity, or maybe even originality. Dylan was, and had, all of that.
Well, I said I don’t do analogies of painting to music. But it isn’t hard to see the parallels between what artists call the “formal” qualities of art, that is shape, form, line, and color, and Dylan's focus on his words and his music. Everything that is decidedly not the subject. Bob Dylan wouldn’t let anyone pin him down to the subjective nature of his work. He was all about the art, the form of the song. He said he was “a song and dance man.”
He claims to have slowed down on cutting edginess, but to my mind he has continued to be the same creative person, if not in the super-popular vanguard.
Next Post: Tune in here soon for the second half of Bob Dylan, Artist, in which I play art critic and quote-monger, and update you on the recent Bob.