When times are tough and I don't know what to do, I go looking for answers. When I'm particularly lost, I often go seeking knowledge from The Wizard, The Oracle, The Dylan. I'm not sure I found the answer to my particular problem — well, I'm sure I didn't but that's not Bob's fault — but something did occur to me this morning as I sifted through the songs in search of one.
People have been scrutinizing Dylan for more than 40 years and most of them are no closer to understanding the man or his words. I sometimes wonder if a few of them haven't missed the plot altogether. No, I'm not claiming original insight into the mind of His Royal Dylan-ness but while picking my way through Blonde On Blonde this morning I realized something: this is a great rock and roll record.
I know what you're thinking, and you may be wrong. You're saying, "Slow down there, Sparky. A great Dylan record? You're right. None of the Dylanophiles have said anything like that before." That's not what I'm saying. Everyone thinks Dylan is great, except for the people trying to be too cute by half by dismissing Dylan to be different (and if you're one of those people, put Blonde On Blonde on your iPod and go get a lap).
Driving in this morning I quit scrunching my face, trying to wring every ounce of truth and prophecy from the lyrics long enough to hear the music. Whether the words mean anything, everything, or nothing at all, Blonde On Blonde works because songs like "Obviously 5 Believers" rock with smart, glorious abandon. "5" takes the essence of golden era Muddy Waters and imbues it with the emerging rock and roll sounds. Tangy guitars bite as the drums snap and tap while amplified harmonica blasts howl and wail. Who cares what Dylan's saying? The message is in the music, and the music is speaking life.