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Bob Dylan
Five years after his last studio album, 65-year-old legend Bob Dylan returns with a brand new set of songs that just went straight to #1! Dylan’s words and tunes have deeply influenced generations of musicians and music lovers. To celebrate his most recent release, we get two prominent names on the Indian music scene to tell us what the legend means to them.

Luke Kenny
He became a familiar face on our TV screens as the VJ on Channel [v] whose show featured the coolest music around. Luke now serves as Programming Head, Channel [v], and also as host of the show Luke’s After Hours, keeping the tradition of good music on TV alive.


My first experience of a Dylan song was none of the blatantly famous ones…no Like A Rolling Stone, no Mr. Tambourine Man, no Blowin’ In The Wind... In fact it happened on a warm summer night, maybe when I was about 11 or 12 in 1983-84. At the height of Jackson mania, my dad had his collection of sixties-seventies music, which he would play whenever I wasn't busy break-dancing on the living room floor. He would say, 'Why are you listening to all this pop-shit, listen to some real songs, real music’ and he would play The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Jim Croce, Arlo Guthrie and he had this tape that was one of those 'Best Of' compilations that we would get at Flora Fountain, good quality, good sound (at least on a two-in-one) and good durability. He would put on this Dylan tape and then my child brain would wonder why this man was singing in this way, nasal, tuneless, poetry recitation types. One of the songs that caught my attention was 'She belongs to know, 'she got every thing she needs she's an artist, she don't look back...' One line in particular got my attention ~ ‘She wears an Egyptian sparkles before she speaks.' and at that point in time I thought it to be very quirky and I thought maybe I should listen to more of this.

Although that song got my attention, I still did not really get 'into' Dylan at that time in my life. You see, break-dancing was saving the world then and Michael Jackson was its patron saint. Anyway moving on from that time, what happened was I began listening to a bit of my dad’s tapes in addition to the eighties pop because a lot of the artists of the sixties and seventies were still releasing albums in the eighties. So I would hear maybe a Rolling Stones Dirty Work album and my dad would play me the early stuff, which led me to seek out the music of that period.
Then came college and growing up and the early twenties angst and every interview I would read by a particular singer songwriter talking about his or her influences, they would mention a 'Bob Dylan'. I would see Woodstock and Dylan would be mentioned, I saw 'The Last Waltz' and saw Dylan playing with the band. His eighties albums Empire Burlesque and Knocked Out Loaded were released and they had a considerable impact on how I perceived the 'song' as a conduit for 'statement' in rock and roll.

Fortunately or unfortunately I did not grow up with Dylan through the sixties or the seventies, so my experience of Dylan was equal. I was not in a position to be judgmental on the songs, and the lyrics were a strong point, of course, but a lot of the songs had a myriad of hidden meanings that some of us are still discovering till today. So there I was, listening to whatever album I could get and took it forward from there. Those were the days before CDs when CBS tapes were available for Rs.29/- only. [Laughs] But in this way I was able to assimilate Dylan's work without judgment this was my ongoing experience. DYLAN FOR ME THEN AND NOW
Now that I have been familiar with his career as a music collector, have all the albums, read extensively various views and commentaries on his output and continue to do so, I feel that Dylan is an absolute unto himself as an artist. There has never been a time when he has felt his output has been mediocre in anyway nor has public opinion, be it pro or con, about his work ever affected him. I personally think he does not have a bad album, no bad phase; yes there are songs and lyrics that have been esoteric and abstract, but then that’s the prerogative of an artist. Dylan is like Shakespeare, never to be imitated always to be re-interpreted, never to be equalled always to be re-invented, never classified, always universal.

You can read the rest of our feature on Bob Dylan in the September 2006 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.


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