The much derided and ridiculed Christian period for Zimmy has even been ignored by him until we hit Vol 13 with the Bootleg Series.
Maybe there is a reason the Dylan organization waited until Vol 13. Maybe that unlucky number with some of the most impassioned playing and singing may reach the heathen masses. Dylan may have said he was never born again, he never said he never got religion.
There is something truly immediate, passionate and engaging about Trouble No More. It’s sincere and compelling and in your face. It was three years of touring filled with ridicule and boos. The playing and singing however is some of the best you will hear from Dylan and any of his bands.
Songs that seem trite and formulaic on the albums live become dangerous and imperative. Singing that is hesitant in the studio becomes fiery.
Let’s face it Dylan has always had something of the apocalyptic visionary about him, whether it’s Hard Rain or Gates of Eden or Slow Train.
The collection is musically rewarding and lyrically challenging, there is a lot of sense being sung in retrospect and like every sincere song ever sung they are worth hearing. Is Zimmy going to evangelize you or turn you off, I have no idea. He will make you think and lets face it he immersed himself in this music for three years almost exclusively avoiding his hits to get this message out. So maybe on that basis alone it deserves to be re-examined.
I sat down tonight thinking I would make it through one side and have to take my time to get through the box. Several hours later I just put away LP 4 having played the whole thing. The collection is revelatory, other Bootleg series have confirmed how great the period it covers was for Dylan. This box redefines the evangelical period by giving you what that sounded like live.
It’s not hip to like religious music, we do however give Beethoven and Brahms their chance with it, so why not Dylan. Maybe we prefer to have our rock stars strung out and hedonistic than sincere and preaching. Who knows?