(Originally posted by Yves on Dec. 13, 2007)
Bob Dylan -- The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan
purchased from: disheveled street vendor, Broadway & 109th Street, New York City
I'll be honest, I bought this one 'cause of its cover. Not only do I dig the pretty girl with the long hair, but the dude, Bob Dylan I presume, really looks like a guy I went to high school back in Minnesota. Bobby. Bobby Zimmerman. That was his name. Terrible, just awful piano player. Parents ran the hardware store in town. I doubt it's the same guy, 'cause this here Bob seems to be more of a guitarist than a pianist. Notwithstanding the fact he'd be approaching 65 today. Yet he looks not even 25 on the sleeve. Weird.
Here is the lowdown: Zimmerman or not, this kid could not sing his way out of a paper bag. Celine Dion's got nothing to worry about. American Idol? Not! Paula Abdul is NEVER going to be found drugged and drunk, getting sweaty with this scrawny, badly delusional troubadour.
Guitar playing just OK. Decent on the mouth harp. Hard to believe someone thought the young man should make a record with so little talent. Shows you how low the standards have gotten. Me, I blame it on rap.
But if you can get past the awful voice, I thought this was a cool LP to hip you all to, as it is pretty darn political at times. And Jill tells me this is a website for political music.
The good news is that the kid can WRITE. I don't think I've heard better lyrics since Donna Summer's "Love to Love You Babe." But that was then and this is now. And In these troubled times, songs like Masters of War, Blowin' in The Wind, or A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall are just what the country needs. Peacenick stuff, sure, but strong and smart and subtle. Thoughtful songs for thinking people. Not the usual reefer-fueled, hippie-banner-waving, "Give Peace a Chance"/"Imagine" crap. I'd love for the clowns without the makeup down at the Dick & Bush White House Circus to give this one a spin. Might change their minds about all this maiming & killing they've been doing by remote control. I wonder if they know how to operate a record player.
He's also got some nice sensitive love songs -- Girl From The North Country, Don't Think Twice It's Alright; stuff that may well help you leftist lads "score", if you know what I mean, as long as you can tune a guitar and bang out three chords. But it's really the pinko stuff that makes me think my buck was well spent.
If I ever meet his Dylan guy, I'd tell him to just forget this recording racket. With a voice like his, he is doomed to fail. A band might help distract the listener from that awful, constipated-dog-on-a-hot-zinc-roof voice, but it's a long shot. "Listen, Bob," I'd tell him flat out, from one hep cat to another, " forget those dreams of free-flowing booze, dolls by the vatful, and girls, girls, girls. You ain't got the physique. And you sure ain't got the voice. But I still think you could make a nice coin writing tunes for other people. Publishing. Think publishing." I have always been one to speak my mind.
Caution: don't buy records from that unkempt fellow on 109th street. Mine was badly scratched.
Rating: Music: C minus; Lyrics: A plus
Editor's note: Yves Beauvais is a native of France, reared in Minnesota. Beauvais committed a fistful of youthful indiscretions while working for the State Department in the early days of the Kennedy administration. He was released earlier this year from a rather lengthy vacation at a Government-run, all-inclusive resort in the scenic town of San Quentin. We thought we'd give him a chance at rehab with a regular column on "The Provocateurs" while you give him a chance to catch up.
(We stole the idea for this column from writer/photographer Michael McLaughlin, his brother, and their super-fine, now sadly defunct Rhode Island Liar.)