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Aging Bob DylanEverybody's been ganging up against Dylan with one reason or another, with the latest one in the New York Times by Maureen O'Dowd titled no less as "Blowin’ in the Idiot Wind" after not one, but TWO of his songs. Others have expressed a desire to see Dylan put away his guitar and harmonica and retire already. Strangely enough I almost bought into all this, after all, the arguments are so persuasive, and they really are. Taking money from the Chinese when dissidents are in jail as he sings? What happened to The Ruben Hurricane champion? After all these dissidents are in some ways even more deserving and heroic for their bravery, yet here we have the old Bob Dylan just doing a gig for money? It is really tempting to buy into all these arguments, so why didn't I?

Well, you know, I though about it and decided to treat him as an artist and not a symbol or a legend or a political leader. So, if people are saying he is either getting weird one way or another consider this first. This is the same thing that was said about Beethoven in his later years andBeethovenPicasso's later works were at first dismissed as the product of an aging old man and many had asked him to retire already and not ruin a brilliant career. With Beethoven it was even worse, they though he had clearly gone mad and his later work was totally dismissed. When another artist, Phillip Guston, showed his later year works people were horrified. Some thought he flipped out totally and some just walked out in disgust, and quite frankly I too was dissapointed but remained curious, mostly about his reason that he wanted to "tell stories." I didn't really research this subject, but I am sure there are tons of other examples one can cite, so let's stay with these artists since that's enough reason to explain my logic.

Beethoven's last pieces, while totally ridiculed and widely disrespected in his day as the product of an aging man gone mad, have by today, become the most widely played pieces of his music by serious musicians. I am not just saying it is tolerated now but that it is extremely respected, so it would seem he was so ahead of his time that it blew over their (idiot?) heads.

Picasso at GagossianPicasso later works were recently shown in Chelsea to a record breaking crowd with tons of enthusiastic rave reviews and quite frankly, I too enjoyed every bit of it. So, here too we have a reversal in taste over decades in that what was once disgustingly and disturbingly childish (as in an old man getting senile) is now being viewed as highly energetic, bold and energetically full frontal quality work. What changed? Idiot winds?

When I now look at Guston's later work, he was a visionary predicting much of the personalized quasi abstraction poetic work which pervades so much of art nowdays. GustonI guess you could say he was a visionary too, no? I mean look at the friends surrounding him such as Phillip Roth and many other poets and writers. I mean, this does not sound like a crazy old fool to me, but a hero who was ahead of his time. Blowing in the wind?

So, getting back to Bob Dylan, and by now you know where I am coming from, who am I, or, who are we to make demands on an artist? Sure he says he would like to sit back on a porch listening to Frank Sinatra, but so what? Who is really floating in the idiot wind if two decades later we find ourselves discovering the artistic evolution in his music that was totally imperceptible to us in our current day? Who knows, it could be the most respected period of his life for all we know today.

My conclusion is - let him be!

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