As someone who has never understood the appeal of Bob Dylan (I don’t get it at all ), I naturally loved Andrew Ferguson’s long, brutal, and funny takedown of the crooner (croaker?) in The Weekly Standard :
Deep thinking reviewers from Crawdaddy and Rolling Stone began toying with what has since become famous, to me at least, as the Dylan roots theory. It has proved remarkably durable and elastic. Whenever Dylan did something artistically egregious, in poor taste, inept, schlocky, or otherwise incompatible with his reputation for genius, the reviewers would explain that he was a kind of musicologist, plumbing the roots of Americana, absorbing within himself the variegated traditions of our native music and transmuting them into art uniquely his own. Hence “All the Tired Horses.” Stupid? The work of a tapped-out songwriter who doesn’t know when to quit? Think again. Dylan was simply wandering in realms of the spirit the rest of us hadn’t yet reached. As his audience has been saying ever since, he’s always one step ahead of his audience. The fact of his genius became unfalsifiable. Nothing he did could contradict it.
So Dylan turned and hit ‘em again. He became a born-again Christian. He performed in Kabuki make-up. He performed drunk. He wore funny hats. He veered from headbanger rock to Opryland cheese. He made boring, pretentious movies about himself. He played with the Grateful Dead . Nothing seemed to work; his admirers just dug in deeper, gaining confidence as their ranks grew even to include England’s poet laureate. At last, in what for any other performer would have been a self-administered death blow, he adopted the stage style he’s famous for today: the adenoidal voice mumbling unintelligible lyrics, the chain-saw arrangements mangling the most beloved Dylan DEHE standard till the body can’t be identified. He tours continuously, doing this night after night.
A Dylan concert is unlike any other event in the history of American movie downloads show business. It is notable most for the uneasy sense among the audience that no one has the slightest idea what song they’re listening to. To an outsider, it looks like a cruel hoax, an inside joke that the joker alone is in on. Yet I’ve seen fans weep in gratitude as he garbles his most famous lines. The ovations are deafening. Forget Baby Huey: Dylan fans are the battered wives of the music industry
Be sure to read the rest , especially the last two spot-on paragraphs.