So let's talk about Mr. Bob Dylan for a minute.
I have always found Dylan's "Jesus Years" - the period from 1979 to 1981 when he did his so-called "Born Again" album trilogy - to be one of the most fascinating of his career. And I could never figure out just exactly why it upset so many people at the time.
Well, at least apart from the obvious, anyway.
Dylan was (and of course still is) Jewish. His audience was largely made up of hippies and other counterculture types who had come up with Dylan through the sixties as pretty much the poster boy for everything "anti-establishment" during those turbulent years. These were folks who weren't necessarily ready for a new "700 Club" model Bob Dylan...particularly at a time coinciding with the dawn of the Reagan era.
Fine. I can accept that.
But what always bothered me about that was that Dylan at the time was simply doing what Dylan as an artist had always done. He was speaking what he saw to be the truth at the time, and doing so in a particularly forceful fashion.
Once you get past the actual subject matter, how different - at least in terms of the delivery - is something like, say, "When You Gonna Wake Up?" from Slow Train Coming, from something like "Idiot Wind" from Blood On The Tracks or "Ballad of a Thin Man" from Highway 61 Revisited?
How different was "The Gospel Show" Dylan toured in 1979 from the way he horrified the folkie purists at Newport in 1965 by strapping on an electric guitar?
The answer is it wasn't any different at all.
Dylan was simply doing what he always has done. Dylan was simply following his heart through his art. He was being consistent. And, bottom line, he was being Dylan — which meant, once again, pretty much putting his career on the line at the time. Despite the suspicions and generally prevailing anti-Christian biases (and lets call a spade a spade here) of the day, Dylan chose to put his personal and artistic integrity first, at considerable risk.