The soul of Dylan
by A.J. Weiner
Bob Dylan released Tempest, his thirty fifth studio album delivered at the tail end of his fiftieth career year in music. The band picture inside the CD package has Bob thoroughly enjoying a big stogie. The expert veteran band that surrounds him in the shot, doesn’t mind the smoke at all. I’m a cigar smoker. One of the side note pleasures of cigar smoking and there are many, is the kind of folk that it invites and the kind that it repels. The bellowing smoke becomes a magical cloud, conjuring up not only a mellow buzz, but a law of attraction looking glass or a truth serum or even tear gas. Bob Dylan’s voice has a lot in common with cigar smoke.
Tempest has cast its spell on me like the very first time I remember falling in love with his music some forty years ago at the age of eight, my younger sister and me laughing and singing incomprehensibly at the top of our lungs to the lyric “…everybody must get stoned.” On that particular annual summer family vacation, the high fidelity 8-track tape of Dylan’s Greatest Hits Volume 1, pumped loud in the car and in repeat every few hours upon request from the back seat, and never a veto was to be heard from the front. The sound was magical and the band and singer were having a blast, just like us. Or he was really in love, just like my family was and still is. Or there were troubles in the world that our parents warned us about, however they and Dylan kept us at a very safe distance from harm’s way.
During the lifelong musical journey that I’m on, there has been one common thread that I have found that defines timeless art. It is soul, soul of the artist and soul of the art. When it has soul, it feels heaven sent. Soul is a very subjective part of art. On the continuous hunt for it, I’ve gained a knack for recognizing whose got it and when it’s happening. I travel with an uneasy soapbox. People can be turned off by bold predictions and reviews – disgusted by cigar smoke. However awkward that situation can occasionally feel, I respect others’ space and taste and move along if necessary.
Bob Dylan’s art is unquestionably powerful and timeless to now generations. Every true soulful artist I come across has an unspeakable twinkle in their eye when talking about Dylan.
Dylan’s singing voice throughout Tempest is curing me like I’m a patient of John Coffey, Michael Clarke Duncan’s character in the movie The Green Mile. Modern media can burn into our souls the world’s cancers. Dylan’s voice pours over my ears and siphons the empathetic pain and disease right out of my body, allowing me to feel totally relaxed in a very healthy soulful place, full of love to give.