US - New York - Full Moon 148 - 10/14/08
Tell Tale Signs : The Bootleg Series Vol. 8
I am here to praise the great master. Knowing it might provoke some and please other (well, isn't that how it always is?) I feel the need to get it out of my system.
Dylan himself might be in the first row of people wanting to write him off in the eighties/early nineties as a has-been, once maybe kind of good. The eight release in the Bootleg Series, Tell Tale Signs (Rare and unreleased 1989-2006), reveals that the man obviously was working hard at reinventing his own creative force. Having read his wonderful renditions in Chronicles, I also know that this was the case at the time. The 27 (well, more if you go for the 3-disc edition of this) tracks here is evidence enough for me that there might not be another artist of such greatness in my lifetime. And this is difficult to admit - it sets an unkind perspective - but even if Neil Young's Archives turns out to be a pure gold mine, he'll have a hard time managing to compete with the magnitude of the Dylan catalogue.
The experience from the first seven Bootleg releases has been of awe almost every time. I will not be surprised if he's got more in store. Although half of the songs has been released in some form or shape before, the power of Dylan is the aforementioned reinvention. It's art on the move, greatness in the making,
which always forces the discussion of "was the record version actually a poorer version?" Together with the never ending question of "why on earth was this one not included on the album?"
I don't really think Dylan is interested in finding the answers to those questions or even joining the discussion panel. Or, that might be the answer itself; he's off somewhere trying out new lines that might find a different melody. Never really caring for the concept of "final version". The Bootleg Series
must, along with the ordinary Dylan releases, be the curriculum of any music fan or aspiring writer or musician. Avoiding this would be accepting creationism.
Copyright © 2008 Anders Svendsen