Genre: Folk rock
It’s not every day you get to listen to a living legend, but you folk attending Benicàssim this year are going to get the chance to just that. It’s Robert Allen Zimmerman, the poet laureate of modern music, and whose many contributions to the industry include Tambourine Man, The Times they Are a Changin’, Like a Rolling Stone, Subterranean Homesick Blues, Blowin’ in the Wind, Just Like a Woman, All Along the Watchtower, Lay Lady Lay, Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door … the list goes on and on and on. He’s possibly the most influential songwriter of the last sixty years, and also one of the most widely covered – although in my own very humble opinion, Dylan is one of the few artists in this world whose songs usually sound much better when they’re covered than when they are performed by the original artist.
He’s back in Spain after last appearing here at the Poble Espanyol in Barcelona and Azkena Rock in Vitoria in 2010, but it’s still the same tour. So was his appearance at Rock in Rio in 2008. It’s what’s come to be known as the Never-ending Tour, which started in 1988 and has involved about a hundred shows a year. Not bad going for a man of seventy.
There have been a few moans. Some punters haven’t been too happy with the way the gigs are so inconsistent. Dylan changes his vocal style and set list every night. In theory that’s great, because you never quite know what to expect, but some audiences have been left disappointed that they didn’t get what they expected. It’s a toughie that. You want to hear Dylan sing the classics, but is it not better to hear Dylan singing what he wants to play rather than what he feels obliged to play? Others have been a little put off by Dylan’s nonchalant aloofness, with only very limited rapport with the audience. But again, that’s the kind of bloke Bob Dylan is. You get what you pay for.
Also, and curiously, between 2003 and 2006 he stopped playing guitar, leaving that to the members of what he calls the best band he’s ever played with. That might sound a bit like watching the late Dizzy Gillespie not playing the trumpet, and it’s probably a good thing that Dylan has started playing guitar again in his shows, although only occasionally. Let’s face it, we can’t be sure what he’s going to have up his sleeve for us at Benicàssim, but at the end of the day, it’s Bob Dylan, and that’s about as big as it gets in this industry.
Did you know: One of Bob Dylan’s most recent projects was The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams, in which he and collaborators including Norah Jones and his own son Jakob completed songs that the legend had left unfinished when he died in 1953.
Like we said, it could be whatever tickles our Bob’s fancy on the night.