Most alarming to listeners devoted to his seminal recordings: the state of Mr. Dylan's voice, decades on from its first signs of deterioration...though he never had a conventionally pretty voice—that was part of its power—lately he's been sounding like a scatting Cookie Monster. On stage, he strums an electric guitar and blows on a harmonica but spends more time at an upright organ, vamping.Factor in Dylan's "ongoing habit of mutating his most familiar songs" into something barely recognizable, and a portrait begins to emerge of a performer whose act might be better suited for the North Country senior center than 10,000-seat arenas.
Not so, says Princeton professor and Dylan scholar Sean Wilentz. He tells the Journal the loopy concerts and unremarkable new albums are the musician's way of challenging his audiences to "'think again'". This also apparently explains why the singer dresses like "cross between a parson and a Mississippi riverboat gambler" for performance. "It's stagey," says Wilentz, "but it's certainly sedate."
Now that we think again, stagey and sedate is exactly how we like our pop music. Thanks, Bob Dylan!