“The last time I listened to Bob Dylan”

 by Terry Kendrick

Aged 49 and 10 months.
Career includes being a past Freewheeler


Hmmm… so 236 is to be the last Freewheelin’ and all past Freewheelers are being asked to contribute to the final issue collated by John. Given my fond memories of those of you that remain from the beginning, how can I refuse? Thought it would go on forever for you all…. but then again everything passes everything changes. 

“The last time I listened to Bob Dylan” I wasn’t impressed. But at least the decline means he’ll end his career as a human being rather than the mysterious legend. Bet John Lennon would have settled for that artistic decline rather than being a mysterious legend to take a shot at. Through the wonders of the internet the last Dylan I heard was the March 15 gig in Oakland. Sounded pretty rough and uninspired to me and maybe it’s the start of the tour and all the settling in around that. Whatever’s happening out there it certainly isn’t happening around Dylan. He’s still keeping on keeping on though. Good for him. I still listen. Why? I dunno… just because I always have I guess. Dylan is now a habit not a vital spark to my imagination. I occasionally get a spark from the new stuff but only very occasionally (last thing that stopped me in my tracks was Sugar Baby). But that’s good enough from a guy who wrote some of the soundtrack to my youth. 

What do I conclude from this? Dylan had a few moments in the sun and has made his contribution. His place in the zoo is assured and there are ample opportunities for the “culturally aware” to come and gawk at him. The record company announcement at the beginning of each gig must make the older ones amongst us wince. As a marketing guy I understand. What’s left of Dylan to sell is being well packaged. 

So the last time I listened to Dylan was very different to the first times I listened to Dylan back in 1969 (late comer eh!). I was agog with wonder then; now I’m agog with indifference but with a sort of morbid curiosity. Is it me? Is it Dylan? Doesn’t really matter. Those who study him now (and there will be a lot of that in the future because what else can you take from the late 20th century??) will never experience the feel of Blood on the Tracks coming out. For some of you it will be the 60s stuff. Whatever, it’s the past. 

Long may Mr Dylan continue! And the same to all of you I remember from the past.