Bob Dylan’s tired sound revitalizes American classics

It is a fact of life that when people age, especially musicians and artists, they lose a lot of what made them appealing when they were younger.

Trends change, people lose interest and many once-popular, game-changing figures are left in the dust, picking up the pieces and wondering where it all went. Many once-popular musicians who try to stay relevant are typically met with criticism and people who constantly egg them on.

Some listen and retire safely to their mansions, where they spend the rest of their lives lounging around on their giant pile of cash. Others, however, are hellbent on playing music until their voices give out and their fingers fall off. They are musicians, music for them is less of a career and more of a lifestyle. 

Bob Dylan is 75 years old and a recipient of almost every award and musical achievement in existence, including a Nobel Peace prize. He just finished recording his 38th studio album, titled “Triplicate.”

With his voice, sounding gritty and weathered, Dylan gives performances that are more similar to Sinatra’s style than his own. Dylan’s signature vocal delivery is not in any of these songs and that might be a little polarizing for younger fans who are just getting into his music.

Backed by a full band, Dylan does his covers of over 30 classic American songs like “That Old Feeling” by Sammy Fain and “As Time Goes By” by Herman Hupfield.

“The Best Is Yet To Come” is a slow, jazzy waltz with a plucking bass that keeps the song moving along. It sounds like the kind of tune that would come pumping out of an old-fashioned record player, full of nostalgia and longing for the way things used to be.

Reflected through these covers is a Dylan who is winding down in his career and paying homage to the people that came before him.

“When The World Was Young” is chilling and one of the rare examples of a cover taking a great song and making it better. Dylan sounds tired and weak, but that only makes the lyrics feel more powerful and it ultimately has a bigger impact on the listener.

“Wherever I go they mention my name,” sang Sinatra, originally. “And that in itself, is some sort of fame.”

Although the covers in “Triplicate” are great, there is unfortunately not a lot of appeal to this album. It will not be flying off shelves or breaking any records on iTunes. They are all much older songs and although many are cemented as classics, the newer generation is not looking back and remembering as much as they should be.

This album will be amazing to the people who cherish these songs and their importance, but not to many others. 

Already a titan in the world of songwriting, it would make sense if Dylan were to bow out, but it also makes an equal amount of sense that he is not doing that. Although he is not drawing the same kind of crowds as he was back in his prime, he is still doing his thing and that alone deserves some respect. 

2 thoughts on “Bob Dylan’s tired sound revitalizes American classics

  1. As someone who has seen Dylan 6 times over my 38 year media career, some performances have been brilliant and others very tired (10 days after Woodstock 94, In Ottawa was a great example)…but Bob is still Bob! I have bristled a little, about this third album of standards but if you paid attention in late 08-09 when Bob had his Pay radio show– a lot of the nuggets from the American songbook came to play there. It’s Bob. Enjoy….

  2. Bob could sit on stage in a tattered tweed recliner and “sing” the phonebook – silently- and I’d be there.

    BTW- Dylan won the Nobel prize in Literature, not the Peace prize.

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