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the pioneer of Dylan Studies; writer, public speaker, critic; became a Doctor of Letters in 2015 (awarded by the University of York, UK)

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Thursday, April 15, 2010


Under the blog entry Chronicles Vol. One Index, several new comments have been added, discussing particular performances and suggesting alternatives to going to YouTube to hear them. Apart from deploring what might be called uprasping they're mostly positive.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tip Michael.
I enjoy your comments (even when they sting) because it's obvious to me you do listen very critically even down to a snatch of a phrase.
The rasp I accept as unavoidable, although perhaps he could figure a way around it, but that in the end would flatten out his dynamics, and he'd be just another of many singers who find a "safe place" for their voice, and never stray from it. It might be more approachable, but I'd find it tedious after awhile.
Pat Ford

9:25 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A very different version of "To Ramona" also for some reason hard to find on you tube.
Pat Ford

6:45 am  
Anonymous likeatrain said...

Michael - with 'uprasping,' I fear you have coined the defining term for this particular period of Bob's singing. It has become increasingly noticeable, especially on the slower songs, and most especially on versions of 'Workingman's Blues #2 - a strange, almost compulsive tendency to shout the last syllable of a line, regardless of any relative tenderness that may have preceded it. It comes across as a kind of vocal tic, just as upsinging did.

Upsinging, incidentally, was not without its plus points. At times, the repetitive pattern of the vocal line provided a nice counterpoint to the shifting chords underneath it, and made for some pleasant harmonic coincidences. It was not entirely unlike techniques sometimes employed by minimalist composers.

Uprasping, on the other hand, because it does not usually involve a sung note, has much less to recommend it. It serves more as an interruption, a jolt, a breaking of the flow. Could it be a Brechtian distancing technique? Perhaps the scholars can enlighten us...

12:46 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

likeatrain: "does not usually involve a sung note,"

Not my perception. The note is there The rasp is a shift in tone. A raspy note.
Several of the hymns on CITH were as raspy as anything, and had the most difficult melodies, but the melodies were still there under the rust and barnacles.

1:45 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Off the wall?
I'm sure there are those who view the crowds enthusiasm as the equivalent of urging a man threatening to jump off a rooftop to go ahead and jump, Dylan in this instance seems happy to oblige. Even if his voice has shriveled up like a punctured balloon somehow he soars over the rooftops.
Pat Ford

1:04 am  
Blogger Michael Gray said...

Sorry it's taken so long to get around to listening to this: it's 'I Don't Believe You' from Osaka, Japan, on March 11 - and I don't see what's "off the wall" about it. I think it's the best thing I've heard from this tour! He's really there - which is the main thing, always.

9:39 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Michael, Off the wall in that he isn't sitting on a fence.
I wonder if Dylan hasn't emerged again from a walkabout similar to the one he described in Chronicles.
As his voice continues to weather are there times when Dylan feels like he's lost his way.
I remember seeing him towards the end of his run with G.E. Smith and he was shout-chanting even the ballads. Later he "found" his voice again.
Since around 2002 I've often searched in vain for live performances I'd listen to all the way through, and they were very hard to find.
Perhaps he has worked something out on his own, perhaps he's found the crowd will honesty respond to his best effort, they aren't going to wince at the termite damage, or worse yet patronize his efforts. Instead the crowd in the far east shows has urged him on when he makes an honest effort.
Bottom line for me is I am interested in these recent shows.
Pat Ford

5:56 am  

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