The Older I Get, the Less I Like Bob Dylan

A rainbow mural of Bob Dylan
Photo by weston m on Unsplash

I used to be a big Bob Dylan fan. In the 90s, I nearly wore out my copies of Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits, Blood on the Tracks, Highway 61 Revisited, and The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. I never thought he was a good singer, but he had attitude and swagger. The lyrics were deep and meaningful. He electrified folk music. The hype was justified.

I didn’t really notice at the time, but by the early 2000s, my late 20s, I was listening to my Dylan records far less than I used to. It wasn’t even that they got replaced by something new and shiny. It was just when I went through my collection, they almost never jumped out at me. I had heard all of them a thousand times and I didn’t feel any need to hear them again. That’s unusual for me. When I like a song, it stands up to repeated listens. I’d listened to the Stones’ Out of Our Heads and Otis Redding’s The Dock of the Bay way more than I’d listened to all my Dylan combined and I still listen to them and love them.

It wasn’t the poor singing. As I get older, I notice that too many of Dylan’s songs just don’t make any sense lyrically. Muddy Waters electrified folk music at least a decade before Dylan (I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the white guy got all the credit when black artists had been doing it for years). Dylan feels very schticky to me now.

Obviously, I’m the one who’s changed, but I can’t quite figure out how I’ve changed. The songs are the same as they always were. And I still like a lot of Dylan’s songs when done by other people. There’s just something about Bob Dylan that doesn’t do it for me anymore. Sixteen-year-old me would never believe it. I wonder if it will happen with other artists I like. I hope not. It’s a shame that something that used to bring me joy doesn’t anymore. I feel like I’ve lost something. I wonder if I’ll ever get it back.

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