Who on earth could step into Mick Jagger’s sprightly shoes and be the star draw at Glastonbury next year?
Well, there’s someone with a back catalogue of songs that are even more familiar to Joe Public than the Rolling Stones’ oeuvre (largely because they’ve been interpreted by so many other artists).
Bob Dylan, start rehearsing now.
I’m sure, for one special night, he can be persuaded to perform his songs more or less as they sound on his studio albums, and so steer clear of the tune-mangling to which he has tended to subject these hallowed works.
He’s on my mind because I’ve just bought a second hand copy of his album Planet Waves. It may be too early to say, but after one-and-a- half listens it’s not as good as I thought it would be.
The other albums I have are inimitable Bob Dylan. Slow ballad or galloping blues, the tracks grab your eardrums and don’t let go. Words, voice and music come together into a raw, intense and honest whole. If there’s a producer on these albums, his interference is minimal. It’s an authentic, personal offering from Bob to me (or you).
On Planet Waves, I’m afraid, I’m uncomfortably aware of backing musicians muscling in on the act, strumming and drumming away so loudly I can hardly make out what instrument Bob is playing or what he is saying. I see from the CD sleeve that Robbie Robertson and other members of The Band have joined him for this outing. Of course, there are supporting musicians on the other albums, but they’re finely blended in the background, and the beauty is that you barely notice they are there.
Bob Dylan is the only popular artist whose albums I have made a point of collecting – up to a point. I started with the cherries on the Dylan cake – Blonde on Blonde, Highway 61 Revisited – enjoying the blast so much I could almost put to the back of my mind the prospect of the stodge to come later (I always knew it’s advisable to progress no further than his mid-70s albums).
Unfortunately his voice, which has not aged as well as his best music, would struggle with the demands of Glastonbury. Time ravages us all, apart from Mick Jagger.