THE LEGENDARY BOB DYLAN, EXALTED AS THE “SHAKESPEARE OF HIS GENERATION,” CELEBRATES 60 YEARS OF SONG WITH HIS FIRST ORIGINAL ALBUM IN EIGHT YEARS
BY AMANDA McCOY
In June 19, Rough and Rowdy Ways, the first album of original songs from Bob Dylan since 2012’s Tempest, was released, immediately amassing a tidal wave of praise and critique. “It’s his best in many years, maybe decades,” wrote one journalist, while another cooed, “The 79 year old grandfather of American popular music remains as vibrant and irascible as ever.” The album is distinct yet quintessentially Dylan introspective, hilariously cantankerous, laced with allusion and innuendo, a raw observation of the past and the world today. It spans folky confessionals, emotional requiems, and powerful, often funny, manifestos. The Nobel Prize winner is entering his seventh decade as a professional musician, and his stories remain as piercing, mischievous, and emotive as they did in the 1960s.
The 39th studio album from the Minnesota born folk rock singer, Rough and Rowdy Ways was surreptitiously teased in March with the release of its first single, “Murder Most Foul,” though Dylan was still tight lipped about the release of a full album. The 17 minute song (the longest ever recorded by the artist) is a haunting elegy depicting the assassination of John F. Kennedy and how its fallout forever changed America, and it landed Dylan a career first No. 1 ranking on a Billboard chart. The second single, “I Contain Multitudes,” was released three weeks later, followed by “False Prophet” three weeks after that.
Dylan’s tour was set to travel through the Northeast this July, culminating in Bethel Woods, New York, on July 12, but the expedition was put on pause in the wake of the pandemic. “We hope to be back out on the road at the earliest possible time,” he promised fans, and in the interim, we all have captivating new poetry from an artist whose life’s work has transcended trends and genres, remaining “A Shelter From the Storm,” just when we need him most.