Love and Theft heralded in the real 21st Century for Dylan in Sept 2001, four years after his alleged resurgence.
Augies back on the immortal Vox organ, keeping the beat and laying the bedrock of what any worthy Dylanoligist sees as the real return to form for Zimmy. This much to the man himself’s amusement as he appears to think these scholars are kind of wacky to waste so much time thinking about him. So here I am thinking about Zimmy.
Dylan as usual rips off everything he has ever heard, dropping lines from songs, books and probably snatches of conversation overheard. Some call it plagiarizing, I kind of think it’s just that wicked brain up there putting stuff together the way I for sure can’t.
I remember buying the album and being terrified by the title of the first track, Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum, somehow it reminded me of Wiggle Wiggle in its name. I remember driving home and thinking have I just made a massive mistake buying this instead of a safer choice, this was at a time when every purchase may mean we ate macaroni again today. Thankfully instead of a vague attempt to write a sure pop song it is a dark study of Mardi Gras drunkenness and debauchery ending in death.
It’s an album of whores, gamblers, drunks and outsiders. It maybe hits just about every musical style America has given us, except for the stage musical, Dylan was saving that for later it seems.
“I’ve been in trouble ever since I set my suitcase down.”
This line sums up the whole album, Dylan the rogue, the conman, the artist, he’s in trouble.
Now I got that out of my head the truth is it’s a great album, probably up there with the high marks of the 60’s and 70’s, of course that is entirely subjective and subject to change at a moment. I have managed to drive around with this album all week in the plague lands and it’s kind of fitting for pandemic times.
At the time Dylan had entered his 60’s and seemed to have mortality on his mind. He’s got nothing for us and he had nothing before. This is fascinating as the most interesting piece of the Dylan myth has been the impact he has on people, the fans, the friends and the business. He has managed to be totally involved in the “business” of Dylan and yet maintains his integrity somehow. It’s quite the feat.
The music is predominantly played by the touring band. It has a liveliness missing from Time Out of Mind, there is also the lack of the Lanois touch doer want of a better phrase. It’s a more immediate sound. Produced by Dylan himself.