Friday, November 14, 2008

Two Out of Three Ain't Bad - But it Still is Disappointing


It's taken me a long time to come to terms with my disappointment in the sound at the Dylan concert at the Brandt Center in Regina on November 1st.

Here is my opinion on the subject. The band was tight and musically capable. Dylan was obviously in control of the set - the band was LOCKED onto him in a way that I haven't seen since watching Tom Coster, Michael Shrieve, Jose Arreas, and the rest of Carlos Santana's band follow his lead for over two hours of non-stop music in 1974. Magic!

Dylan was calling the shots on November 1st. That was very obvious - and you could NOT understand MOST of what he was singing.

The only logical conclusions to be made are that he, and his sound crew, were unable to make his vocals clearer or that he, and his sound crew, were unwilling to make his vocals clearer. I could clearly hear Dylan's keyboards and harmonica. I could clearly discern each solo played by the band's guitarists. I could hear the bass line and the drum fills. If all of that was possible then hearing vocals should have been no problem. I could not hear Dylan clearly for much of the show.

If the reason for the poor sound was the first explanation suggested above then Dylan can stop touring - now! It's over. We don't need any more demonstrations that the "authentic voice of a generation" has literally lost his voice. If the reason was the second explanation it may be an artistic choice. I may not know art, but I know what I like - and I did not like what I heard at the Brandt Center.

Dylan may be an artist who has risen so far above his medium that he doesn't have to pay attention to what he's doing - but in the end if art is inaccessible, I believe it loses its transformative power. I will not stop being a Dylan fan, but I believe the artist always has a responsibility to his audience to present his art in the best and most accessible way he or she can. If Dylan is only playing for an audience of one then he doesn't need my $80 or my ears - which were actually hurt by the poor sound.

Anyway, I was there. I bought the t-shirt, and the pins. I'll buy more CDs over time to fill in my collection. I'll check out any new releases to hear if they can speak to me. I'll continue to hope that Dylan creates art that I and others can appreciate, but I won't try to experience his art live again. I'll have to remain content with video and audio recordings, and forget "live".

So be it.

As Meat Loaf would observe - "Two out of three ain't bad."

But it is sad.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

I'll Remember

I'm not usually big on political happenings - my faith is in Someone else rather than political leaders - but I will remember November 4, 2008. Even as September 11, 2001 was a day when we all felt a horrible shift in our world, last night's results in the US Presidential election had the same pervasive impact, but this time in a positive way.

It may be fair to say that our world needs to grow beyond such seeming preoccupation with the USA, but it remains true that there still is no other nation in the world that has the same boundless potential to influence for good, or ill if it comes to that.

As I mentioned before, I have no faith in humanity, but I do have hope that when we are influenced by higher ideals, principals and morals we can rise to the occasion and do honor to God. And we can be better to each other.

Last night the USA shed a bit more of its dark past and took a further step into the light of the ideals its founders brilliantly entrenched into its founding document. Last night the hopes and dreams of so many who have worked and prayed and sacrificed to see a better day for themselves and their children took one step closer to being realized. Last night the differences on the outside of people everywhere became less important, and the ideals and hopes they share became more important.

Last night, I believe, real justice became just a bit more possible for our dear neighbours to the south.

Godspeed USA.