My night with Bob Dylan

It was a beautiful spring night at the Prospect Park Bandshell and my chance to see Bob Dylan, thanks to a tip-off earlier this summer to the advance sales password on Ticketmaster.com.  A woman I met in line during the show summed it up best when she told me, "I don't care how badly he sings, I'll love the show no matter what."  I think she pretty much summarized how the majority of people there felt.  Gersh had a great review and write-up of the show this morning on The Brooklyn Paper, and he appears to be more of a Dylan aficionado than me.  There were definitely two Dylans in attendance last night.  His new songs were upbeat and melodic.  His older hits were sung hum-drum and monotone.  I wondered if he intentionally made an effort to sing them differently, just to mix it up after 40 years.  Based on the enthusiasm with which he performed the newer stuff, I find it hard to believe that "he can't sing anymore" as Gersh and others explained.  He can still sing, but chooses not to, not coincidentally on all the songs with which you want to sing along.  This left me feeling frustrated, a frustration that I think I shared with many others there last night.  Some of his hits were barely recognizable, were it not for the fans who forcibly sang along to the traditional melody, which he fought off tooth and nail.  That same woman who I met in line also told me that "Dylan never gives his fans everything they want."  Apparently, he thrives on the push/pull relationship, perhaps a relic of his 60s and 70s coming of age years.  Either way, I had a great time and it was a thrill to see Bob Dylan live.  No matter how badly he sang, I would have had a great time.  Unfortunately, the mess of garbage left by fans after the show (pictured here) was disappointing to me, particularly on a night that we all came to see an artist who stands for socially responsible action.

By Josh Guttman

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