Years ago I got stuck in the back of a car during a road trip with some friends who played early heavy-on-the-harmonica Bob Dylan non-stop for about three days, and I just about lost my mind. That experience prevented me from getting on board the Bob Dylan bus until he released Time Out of Mind in 1997. I still don’t listen to much early Dylan, but I’ve come to appreciate the overall body of his work and his development as an artist, how he absorbs (and steals from) traditional music and makes it singularly his own. (I like Tom Waits and Jolie Holland in the same way.) He’s a master vocalist and lyricist too. I don’t know what most of his songs are about but they’re about something and it draws me in. I like how his songs are open to interpretation. You can take what you like from them regardless of his original intention. I’d pick “Moonshiner” as the first song of his that made a strong impression on me, but I can’t find that anywhere on YouTube, so I’ll pick “Things Have Changed” instead.
(It was a toss up between “Things Have Changed” and.) I also admire Dylan for playing his music the way he wants to play it. Instead of replicating the studio versions on stage — which seems to piss off a certain segment of his audience who’d rather hear “Like a Rolling Stone” exactly like it sounds on the album — he’s always trying new things with his songs during live performances, often completely transforming them. Here’s for “Things Have Changed” that doesn’t sound anything like the studio version. I love that.