THE QUESTION

Like a Rollin' Stone?


Sure, Bob Dylan is "the age's iconic singer-songwriter and rock's poet laureate.'' All the same, the Wall Street Journal suggests, he should hang up his hat. The Journal caught Dylan, 69, at a bare ballroom in an Atlantic City casino, his voice a "laryngitic croak'' as people walked out to play the slots. Are there age limits on success? Do you go out at the top of your talents, or do you soldier on, doing what you love?

Posted by Success Editors on December 20, 2010 12:00 AM
FEATURED COMMENTS

icyone: Dylan is a composer, a creator. I never did care much for his talents as a performer, but IMHO that is a separate issue. I think that whe...

therapidone: Attended Dylan concert 2 years ago; one of the best of his I've ever attended. However, his voice has degraded significantly in the interve...

cussiep: Dylan is a prophet, my personal prophet - and I am a church-going believer. THREE WORDS - BODY OF WORK!! With the Bible and Shakespeare, Dy...

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ALL COMMENTS (100)
ChrisD5 Author Profile Page :
 

I wouldn't expect The Wall Street Journal to accurately represent Dylan's fans any more than I would expect Dylan to accurately represent The Journal's readers. Something tells me Rupert Murdoch doesn't have any original "The Times They Are A Changin'" LPs in his basement...

 
talbritton Author Profile Page :
 

I've been playing, singing, writing songs of my own now for 40 years, mostly because Bob Dylan, and others, inspired me, though I never tried to sound like him, or anyone but myself. He taught me that essential thing, and I'm sure my life would have been much poorer without him. Like Joan said: If you get him, he goes deep. And he did for me. He and I will stop when we are dead. When I can't play anymore, and no one will listen, I will still sing to myself. And if the day comes when I can't do that, I'll have the songs to play on my memory's instrument. The songs are the air we breathe out with every gasp of life.

 
MarkOliva Author Profile Page :
 

Mr. Tambourine Man now is a shill to get people to play the slots in gambling casinos. Sort of the Brett Favre of music. Reminds me of that old song, "You Been a Good Ol' Wagon, Daddy, but You Done Broke Down." Sic transit gloria mundi.

 
tommyothomcd Author Profile Page :
 

maybe the Wall Street Journal should wrap it up and sling out of town. Its voice is out of tune.

 
hickssumnet Author Profile Page :
 

It probably takes as much courage to accept the time has come to get off the stage as it does to get up there in front of thousands of people night after night. I've never seen Dylan perform, but it was difficult to listen to subpar vocal performances last year of my personal favorites Crosby, Stills and Nash.

 
wintoursghost Author Profile Page :
 

Having the 'success editors' do a music review is... "Idiot Wind".
Were the 'Success' editors expecting some lip-synch glitter dance moves...maybe a five-octave solo aria?
Dylan assembles remarkable bands with exceptional musicians who play 'national treasures' with superb brilliance.
Consider that the honor you failed to appreciate.


 
w4vr Author Profile Page :
 

I remember going to see him at Wolf Trap about 20 years ago and he sounded as described in this post. His voice crapped out years ago, but his music is still good.

 
peggyjohnsonmusic Author Profile Page :
 

I saw Dylan this summer in Oklahoma City and he was awesome. I have seen him other times when he wasn't. The Wall Street Journal needs to butt out. In some sense, Bob Dylan is a business and who is the WSJ to say it's time for him to quit?

 
pyee Author Profile Page :
 

Give the guy a break. He is a living legend, playing small and obscure houses to feed himself, his family, and his band. Make a point to go see him live this year.
By the way, is it true that hedge fund managers should retire at the age of 35, because their best work occurs when they are in their late 20's?
.

 
terminator_x Author Profile Page :
 

John Hammond of CBS first signed Bob Dylan to a contract in 1962. Mitch Miller, who was working with Johnny Mathis (among others) could not understand what Hammond was thinking. Miller had a conventional ear and wanted to work with vocalists whose voices made a beautiful sound. He heard no talent in Dylan's voice.

And so the Hammond v. Miller debate continues among music fans in this forum. Hammond had also "discovered" Billie Holiday, who similarly lacked a pretty voice. But Dylan and Holiday -- unlike Johnny Mathis or Doris Day, actually had something important to say and could convey emotion in their less-than-perfect voices. And Dylan never compromised his own tastes in order to pander to his audience; he moved from topical folk songs to electric rock to country to gospel and now to blues. I respect him as an artist for not taking the easy road.

If you are interested in music to hear something meaningful, you are more likely to be a Dylan fan. If you listen to music for the sole purpose of hearing something that sounds catchy or pleasing, Dylan may not be your cup of tea. Note that both Hammond and MIller, while disagreeing about Dylan's talents, found enormous success within the music industry. There's room for everyone. The Ancient Romans had a proverb that applies to this discussion: "In matters of taste there is no dispute."

Keep on playing, Bob.

 
AnnieDC Author Profile Page :
 

I despise questions like this. What is the point? If he never again does anything of interest, no one has to listen unless they want to. I wrote him off years ago, and then he came back with some of the best stuff he had ever done. Learned my lesson. . .

And it's ridiculous to post the original question as if there is one universal answer. Why should any of us have generic opinions about whether or not other people should continue to pursue their passions?

Nest question, please.

 
iconart Author Profile Page :
 

Any seasoned fan of Bob Dylan knows that his concerts have always been iffy no matter what age he happens to be. I saw him in the late 80s and it was not a good night for him, but at a concert this past August he was magnificent.

He's an artist who's all about the music, and always changing and evolving.

Don't football and baseball fans have their favorite team that they support in good times as well as bad?

Bob Dylan continues to make music on a par that few, if any, performers can achieve.

And, oh, by the way: those of you who go to a Bob Dylan concert expecting an oldie's show will be highly disappointed. I would imagine that you are the ones that walk out in the middle of his performance.

 
jdann740 Author Profile Page :
 

What a bunch of idiots! BB King, Louie Armstrong, even Jimmy Durante all have 8 note ranges and they are considered some of the greeatest vocalists in the American jazz tradition. Go to the church and listen to the choir and the organ if you want perfect pitch. Listen to one off key note of Dylan, King or Armstrong and try to understand "HOW DOES IT FEEEEEEL" to be on your own like a complete unknown like a rolling stone.

Like I said you're all a bunch of idiots.

 
JamesChristian Author Profile Page :
 

Dylan sucked in his prime. I wouldn't walk across the street to see him for free. In his prime. NOW? He's wasted, worn out and his horrible, overplayed tunes are as ragged out and boring and monotonous as Springsteen, Willie, Guthrie, the Stones, Beatles and all the rest. They had their day, made their money, now go the F away. What, we're supposed to come see these losers until they're on their walkers, all burnt out from drugs and booze? Bono and a few others would be wise to take that advice, too. Overexposure into your golden years ruins the glory for the four or five hundred people that actually cared when you were in your prime. Go away, you had your day. We aren't interested. Oh, and Gene Simmons and that skank-hoe wife of his would do well to go away too.

 
bessmount Author Profile Page :
 

I saw Dylan four times this year and whilst I acknowledge that his voice may be an acquired taste, as a musician and performer, he is better than ever. Whilst he still has the energy and desire to play concerts, and there are enough of an audience who appreciate his work, why should he stop? I had the pleasure of taking my 18 year old nephew to a couple of concerts, and he loved every moment of them, and was in the company of many other, younger members of the audience, who had no desire to leave the auditorium until the show was over, they were hoarse from shouting 'more' and their hands were sore from clapping. I hope he carries on for a good while yet.

 
magnifco1000 Author Profile Page :
 

Something like 75% of famous music stars actually are verging on bankruptcy within 5 years of the height of their careers. Unbelievable as it may sound, but the high living, the lifestyle, and for many, booze and drugs, takes a big chunk of their cash away. So, don't be too hard on Dylan. He probably needs the cash!

 
BaltimoreBuc Author Profile Page :
 

let's break this down SAT style-

The Wall Street Journal is to music criticism as Rolling Stone is to:

(c) financial news

 
JTFLORIDA Author Profile Page :
 

Does the performer who is 65-70 remain vital as a creative force? I haven't heard Dylan in years but one guy who is perhaps more relevant than he was in the 70's-80's becoming the most successful duo is Daryl Hall

 
icyone Author Profile Page :
 

Dylan is a composer, a creator. I never did care much for his talents as a performer, but IMHO that is a separate issue.

I think that when a creator presents his own work, that is not the same as performance of his work by someone else. Regardless of his abilities at the time, one assumes he is trying to say something through his own work, independent of whatever physical deficiencies he may have at that time, and you listen accordingly. Obviously those who left did not view the performance in that way, but that is their personal view. If Dylan thinks he has something to say, however flawed his physical capabilities, then perhaps he does.

If you could go back in time and be present at a flawed performance by Beethoven after he became handicapped by increasing deafness, would you do so, for the sake of what he might be trying to communicate, or would you dismiss the opportunity???

 
dongonzo Author Profile Page :
 

A bit more background on the circumstances of the gig would be helpful here. But it is better to burn out than to rust, period. Grace Slick of the 1960s Jefferson Airplane criticized the Rolling Stones for continuing to play a decade ago but it didn't stop them. Dylan played Punta del Este in Uruguay last year this time and it was good crowds coming to see a legend. Paul McCartney is playing to record crowds in Brazil with a newfound youth as this is being written. With Dylan there are some Karma issues running in the background. The Woodie Guthrie folk roots hijacked the left wing, some might say socialist or god forbid communist, folk song movement that was led by nice middle class Jewish boys in crew neck sweaters like Freddy Silverman, Ralph Rinzler, Sing Out and Crawdaddy Magazine, Gerald Gallant, with their headquarters at New York's Town Hall and people like Phil Ochs from Ohio State University, Tom Paxton. And the move to rock n'roll courtesy of empressario Albert Grossman and Columbia Records producer Tom Johnson took the folk music audience away from left wing politics. Dylan's poetry was given more attention than the Beat poets like Ginsberg, Ferlinghetti, and even Jack Kerouac who died with 80 dollars in the bank when Dylan had morphed into a born again Christian and done gone Nashville. Then there was the Japanese plagiarism incident, where the Japanese poet was elated that Dylan ripped off his work. The New York Times ragged on Brazilian bossa nova legend Joao Gilberto when he played Carnegie Hall couple years ago at 85. Alberta Hunter played until her 90s. The problem facing Dylan is that he can still bring it, but what he brings is just a patina of his past.

 
boblas Author Profile Page :
 

I don't know what the appropriate level of singing talent is considered good. Or, maybe the length of time to have to listen to it. I figure 5 minutes of Bob Dylan would be GREAT to hear. Anything beyond that and I have to be paid to listen.

On the other hand "laryngitic croak" is a FANTASTIC name for a band.

 
rbelleisle Author Profile Page :
 

How long has the Post been trolling through the pages of the Wall Street Journal to come up with article and discussion ideas? Does this qualify as plagiarism?

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704594804575648691223353352.html#


ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
DECEMBER 3, 2010.When to Leave the Stage
A generation of music icons is hitting retirement age, along with their baby-boomer fans. Is it time for Bob Dylan to hang up his hat and harmonica?

 
roedel1974 Author Profile Page :
 

Rock on, Bobby D.

 
winston686 Author Profile Page :
 

Indeed - who are WE to say it's time for Dylan to hang it up? He and I are the same age so sing on Bob - "Forever Young." BTW,300 years from now, Mozart, The Beatles and Dylan will still be relevant.

 
oregonbirddog Author Profile Page :
 

Well lets face it, if judged by their ealier work, many very talented older performers and groups ought to simply hang it up. However, whether its because of ego, the lure of the crowd or because of the lucra, most performers would have to be drug off the stage or shipped home in a box before they would quit. And in so far as the "Getting better with Age" argument only a handfull of performers could truley say this,perhaps:B.B King, Mavis Staples,Elvis Costello, Richard Thompson and maybe Rodger Waters. John Meyers, I think has the native talent and originality to continue on for many years if not decades as a major creative force and I look forward to hearing from him as he ages.

 
rogers1 Author Profile Page :
 

When people listen to Howlin Wolf singing Smokestack Lightnin, are they listening to a "laryngitic croak" or are they listening to the blues?

 
oregonbirddog Author Profile Page :
 

Well lets face it, if judged by their ealier work, many very talented older performers and groups ought to simply hang it up. However, whether its because of ego, the lure of the crowd or because of the lucra, most performers would have to be drug off the stage or shipped home in a box before they would quit. And in so far as the "Getting better with Age" argument only a handfull of performers could truley say this,perhaps:B.B King, Mavis Staples,Elvis Costello, Richard Thompson and maybe Rodger Waters. John Meyers, I think has the native talent and originality to continue on for many years if not decades as a major creative force and I look forward to hearing from him as he ages.

 
memorybridge1 Author Profile Page :
 

Yeah. Probably we should all retire and listen to Brittney Spears and 50 cent. That way we would never have to actually listen to the words, or grunts.


 
JoseSol Author Profile Page :
 

Thank you Bob,
You keep improving with age.

 
memorybridge1 Author Profile Page :
 

Yeah. Probably we should all retire and listen to Brittney Spears and 50 cent.


 
vmax02rider Author Profile Page :
 

He's the perfect casino act. He has the name to draw people to the casino and the performance to keep them gambling.

 
therapidone Author Profile Page :
 

Attended Dylan concert 2 years ago; one of the best of his I've ever attended. However, his voice has degraded significantly in the intervening time. I wouldn't pay to hear him again (I've got a ton of his albums), but I say he should keep doing bookings until no one buys tickets anymore--then he'll know it's over. Until then, let him perform & make the big bucks...not sure what he's doing with all that $$ at 69 & touring all the time, but it's his life.

 
Wildthing1 Author Profile Page :
 

He should know better than to go to Las Vegas and he does he will just have to accept what he gets... deserted

 
coqui44 Author Profile Page :
 

LNER4472 wrote:

Let's face two irrevocable facts:

The other fact: The average age of Dylan's fan base is between 60 and death. This is a simple factor of the fact that most people's music tastes center around what they were listening to between ages 18 and 24. [end]


Well, maybe only the aging people listen to Dylan, but the other "simple factor of the fact" is that the younger people do not listen to the older music because, as you said, they only listen to stuff of their age. But that's not completely correct. Young people listen to the Beatles and to other aging musicians. In other words, they join the dying fans because the allure of the good music is too strong and can break ageism and other forms of prejudice.

And it goes the other way around too. Older people buying music of the new generation. In other words, your ageist comment is worth nothing.

I was never a fan of Dylan. Now that he became the willing bait for compulsive gamblers, sharing on the profits the casino makes from these suckers, even less.

The thing that the new generation have going for them is that their stars are empty of ideology. Thus, this generation will not be disappointed 30 years from now when their old stars go prancing around for McDonald's or a CIA family day activity for a few bucks.

 
BrianX9 Author Profile Page :
 

.
Bob Dylan Zimmerman, Lounge Lizard.
Who'd a thunk it, 45 years ago ?
.

 
deantopa Author Profile Page :
 

I recall Garrion Keilor saying when playing Tanglewood in the Berkshire's that the acoustics there are so good that when Bob Dylan plays there, you can understand every word! Dylan is a character who is a great song writer. I think that he sings with a "laryngitic croak" because he's smoked to much pot over the years and simply just doesn't have any memory left. Anthony Tomeo

 
tilde-tilde Author Profile Page :
 

Always puzzling -- that "Dylan can't sing" put-down, which started in the '60s and continues today.

What does it really mean?

That all singers should have the bland but technically correct tones of a Donny Osmond?

If so, while trashing your Dylan tapes -- toss Mother Maybelle and Louis Armstrong, too.

 
cussiep Author Profile Page :
 

Dylan is a prophet, my personal prophet - and I am a church-going believer. THREE WORDS - BODY OF WORK!! With the Bible and Shakespeare, Dylan has written about every human emotion and circumstance - check the 1,000s of songs in his lyric books. He is not like you or me - what he does is his own choice and on his own timetable. His life is not a "career", it is a mission. He has admitted that when the Muse was at its strongest, the words streamed through him so quickly, he couldn't have possibly thought them through consciously. The WSJ cannot judge. I cannot judge. I haven't always understood his life "phases", but I usually caught up later and saw what he was trying to do. Dylan is the only person who can determine when he wants to retreat from public life. There are new fans finding Dylan every day. That is one reason, he has said, for his "Neverending Tour". He considers himself a poetic/musical statesman. Keep the thunder rolling, Bobby D.! I will go and see The Master again and again and again.

 
james_m_reilly1 Author Profile Page :
 

Many stars perform into their 80's, Tony Bennett to name just one....many star ballplayers, have had great careers and suddenly at 35 or 36 its over...Ted Williams was a star when he retired at 41. In your everyday life or job, you know when its over, when you have passed your peak. It may "sneak up" on you but if your are honest with yourself you saw or felt it coming before others saw it..Trying to hang on, or stay just one more year generally disappoints those working along side you.. .You see it in Hollywood, especially in the 30 's and 40's and into the 50's especially with former female beauties who could not face the fact that they were older and had passed their peak and it was over..Anyone who has any connection with Hollywood will tell you of the horrible last years of many of these stars as they could not accept the fact that they were part of the past and were no longer box office.. A tragic example would be Ava Gardner, alone and drunk.....Know when its time to leave your "stage" man up to it, hold your head high and start a new life or interest to replace the old..

 
GladysKravitz Author Profile Page :
 

trying to think of any contemporary artists that will be remembered 10 years from now let alone Dylan's 40. Lady Gaga? Usher? Katy Perry? God, I hope not.

 
osha1 Author Profile Page :
 

May as well tell the birds in the trees to stop singing...Let him be who he is and "if he can't hold the interest of an audience," let him sing to please himself.

 
davidwatching Author Profile Page :
 

Seems to me that when Bob Dylan was around 20 years old doing covers of old Delta blues songs (waaaay back when "folk/blues" was considered a single genre), he was basically emulating the voices of men in their 60s giving voice to the pain and hopelessness they had felt in their lives. The kind of bitter experience that is hard to really know about when one is younger.

Now he IS one of those 60-plus-year-old guys, so now it's for real! Although I doubt that Dylan has ever lived the blues that the original singers did, I think the art is valid.

That style has always been an acquired taste; take out the age issue and this article could have been written in 1965 or 1975 or any year since Dylan became known.

 
dojemc Author Profile Page :
 

I just think it is sad when someone simply doesn't know when to retire. I listened to Paul McCartney sing on Saturday Night Live two weekends ago and he was terribly out of tune and off key. He simply did not have a voice anymore no matter how loud the band played to cover up his deficiencies. It simply wasn't a matter of his "re-interpreting" his old playlist. He simply couldn't sing. If he can't hold the attention of an audience in a casino, then Mr. Dylan might want to consider it time to retire.

 
lilifreak Author Profile Page :
 

Keep doing what you love!

Let's hope that Dylan, like all people lucky enough to make a living doing what they love, draws his motivation from self-satisfaction, rather than the regard of others.

If it's going to break your heart not to fill the stadiums, or if snarky reviews will destroy you, then by all means, step aside.

But if you are wise enough to ignore all that, and still find your bliss doing what you love, then I say more power to you.

And although the aging vocalists may have to downshift to smaller venues as time goes by, icons like Bob Dylan will always have a dedicated and appreciative fan base who turn out in spite of the toll age may take on your vocals.

You go, Bob Dylan!

 
radiantheating Author Profile Page :
 

I'm a big fan from the Sixties, and seeing his unembellished genius at the Forum in '73 was unforgettable. More recently, his nasality was exaggerated to the point of being unintelligible. The rock guitarists just amped up the noise. He was singing Tom Thumb's Blues at a CASINO, singing "....you can win what's never been won, meantime life goes on all around you..." while burly bouncers scowled and ensured that nobody followed suit when he sang "Everybody must get stoned". It was such a disappointment I walked out during the encores, and won't be back. I still listen to his old stuff a lot, but I agree that he should have hung it up years ago.

 
GladysKravitz Author Profile Page :
 

He made this Christmas album last year that is perhaps one of the strangest, kitschiest, most intriguing holiday music sounds ever. It's a little crazy, chances are he is too...most geniuses are. Give him his props and accolades...he's still doing new things with his music...still great to listen to.

 
tyree230 Author Profile Page :
 

People are making the wrong argument. If he enjoys it, he can do it. his previous success does not matter, he's a musician who was once a rock star. He makes music and that's it.

 
anitacas Author Profile Page :
 

"New York Times said it was the coldest winter in seventeen years......didn't feel so cold then" b.dylan

 
Jihm Author Profile Page :
 

Bob Dylan only sang with his "real voice" on Nashville Skyline. And that was really rather pleasant. His very early stuff sounded good - but with an obviously "put on" voice.
In recent decades, his singing has sounded worse & worse. Is that because his "real voice" has deteriorated, or because he just wants to sound that way? Does it really matter?
He is a great song writer, in my opinion, but to hear him sing now is painful indeed. His Christmas album is enough to scare away Krampus.

 
slivin500 Author Profile Page :
 

I never got Dylan yes I guess he is a good song writer, but people who think this guy can sing, their ears must be at the bottom of their feet.

 
Larryw21 Author Profile Page :
 

You're kidding, right? When was Bob Dylan's voice anything else other than a croak? We love him and listen to him because of his lyrics and the heart that lives in his words. If he wants to go on singing until he actually does croak, that is fine with me. I'll go on listening to him. If he wants to retire so that the WSJ editors don't feel so bad for him, then that's okay too. But what I, or you, or WSJ thinks means nothing. It's what Dylan wants that matters.

 
pcvd Author Profile Page :
 

In the early 1960's, Dylan was the artist who first taught me that a songwriter with a voice that was not "melodic" in the usual sense could perform his own work and make it more true than if it was "covered" by a more presentable and listenable performer.

He gave freedom to any number of creative individuals who followed in his footsteps. Give the man respect and listen to his music.

 
GladysKravitz Author Profile Page :
 

Dylan’s trademark IS his croak – that his song-writing skills have never been better is the reason he remains a force in contemporary music. Saw him in concert in Virginia last year and he was (at times) absolutely mesmerizing! An Atlantic City casino doesn’t sound like the best venue for him to be playing…perhaps his agent should be put out to pasture.

 
LNER4472 Author Profile Page :
 

Let's face two irrevocable facts:

Dylan is a well-regarded (at least among his extremely vocal fans) as a master and iconic songwriter. He has also been regarded for nearly all his career as a lousy singer, by anyone with a decent ear.

The other fact: The average age of Dylan's fan base is between 60 and death. This is a simple factor of the fact that most people's music tastes center around what they were listening to between ages 18 and 24. The absolute best place for Dylan to perform: yet another room full of aging baby boomers for yet another PBS fundraising folkie special, in the footsteps of such specials over the years for Peter Paul & Mary, Joan Baez, Pete Seeger, the Kingston Trio, etc.

And if we can be honest with ourselves: as good as The Beatles were, if they were still together and performing, they would be next in line for a PBS fundraising special.

 
boesc Author Profile Page :
 

Bob always was about the money. Even when he was in the peak of his rebel role, he or his publisher made sure that his new albums came out just in time for the Christmas present rush. Yawn.

 
pike2 Author Profile Page :
 

Reality is the ultimate test. "You're only as old as you feel" is delusional. If it is true, how come there are no 70-year olds playing in the National Hockey League?

 
bruce19 Author Profile Page :
 

Dylan has always had a croakey voice. It is charming and the style and artistry of his guitar playing is still great. The Rolling Stones are preparing a new album and tour, so is age that important if musician and artists still have something to say? I tell myself, a middle-aged entrepreneur, that Ray Kroc started McDonald's when he was in his mid 50's. If still in decent health, there is no limit to what anyone with desire and drive can do at any age.

 
Billy1932 Author Profile Page :
 

Everything ends sometime, for some sooner is better than later.

 
washpost16 Author Profile Page :
 

I really don't think we should be following the Wall Street Journal's advice on anything, most especially about music. They are always out of tune.


 
HGerson Author Profile Page :
 

I saw Daddy Bones perform a month ago and anyone who dismisses him because of his “laryngitic croak” is missing the point, but I wouldn’t expect more from the WSJ which is probably still looking for communists under our beds. Dylan is still a brilliant writer and a gifted performer and seeing him perform his old songs in ever changing ways and his new material with artistry and flair is still the treat his shows have always been. The poster above (randyrobbins…) said it very well.

 
DavefromDetroit Author Profile Page :
 

I share the experience of seeing his Bob-ness be painfully bad and be in full possession of his eerily powerful mojo, sometimes in the same show. Anyway, I think he defines himself as an old itinerant folk/blues dude and wouldn't mind too much playing raunchy dives ... never mind that he's worth millions.
But I question whether Dylan's viability applies to most other people. For one thing, rock stars face the unusual burden of having become famous as symbols of youth ... so watching McCartney or Jagger, with their died hair and diminished voices, continue to shake their asses is wince-inducing, sure. But many people who are in more normal professions, and remain mentally sharp and willing to adapt to change, can contribute well into their 70s.

 
EGunn32 Author Profile Page :
 

Surprising that the Journal would put out such a bad article. They say all this terrible stuff and then note a Grammy (Best Album, mind you) won in the late 1990s. For once, someone ought to do a focused article on his 4 most recent albums (inclusive of and outtake collection of later material). The writer almost started to “get it” with the fact that Dylan acts his age. That is the whole point – and the point that Dylan and the people who write the liner notes have been saying. It’s the idea that the new music he is making is old music. Not old in the sense that it’s Bob Dylan music from the 1960s, 1970s, or whatever. It’s new music that is rooted in the American Experience (both musically & lyrically) which is what he embodies far and away better than anyone has or will. In fact, it is everything for which anybody has ever liked him but now he is an old man and he doesn’t pretend to be anything else but that. Unfortunately, that's our country for you - people don’t believe he should be allowed to continue to do what he’s good at because he’s old and doesn't do what they want him to do.

 
Auslander1 Author Profile Page :
 

If the guy's a singer and he can't sing anymore, then it's not unreasonable to suggest that he no longer sing, is it?

Age alone isn't a disqualifier. In the past couple of years I heard a half-dozen 60+ rockers--Paul McCartney, Roger Waters (Pink Floyd), Leslie West (Mountain), Billy Joel, and Ann Wilson (Heart)--who still manage to have the power and range of their youth. There's no reason they shouldn't continue to perform. On the other hand, when Townshend and Daltry performaed at last year's Super Bowl, it was absolutely pitiful. If that's all they're able to manage these days, why would they want to continue doing it?

 
tilde-tilde Author Profile Page :
 

Why recycle a wannabe music review from a financial publication -- instead of recycling music reviews from, well, music reviewers? Or at least more than one music reviewer.

For more variety, check out "Review the Reviews" at www.bobdylan.com (website.http://www.bobdylan.com/#/review-the-reviews).

Or search the reviews independently.

Or think for yourself.

Or buy tickets to something else. "The Nutcracker"! Nope, never mind: that's older than Bob Dylan. But it's also lesser than Bob Dylan, so WSJ fans might feel more comfortable with it.

 
mycroftt Author Profile Page :
 

I've been listening to Dylan croak it out since the '60's. Maybe Dylan can't sing anymore, but who cares - I can't hear anymore either.

 
Bugs3 Author Profile Page :
 

Dylan's voice has never been the main attraction. From the fake, corn-pone twang of his early days, the nasal whine of his middle period, to the "croak" of today, he's never had a conventionally pleasant singing voice. To some people, he's "authentic." To others, he's just annoying. But he's got a definite gift for lyrics and melodies and storytelling - that's why his fans still appreciate him. As long as someone will pay him for what he does, he should keep on doing it and retire whenever he's good and ready.

 
momj47 Author Profile Page :
 

There's nothing more embarrassing than watching (and then not watching) an old performer who doesn't know when to retire. Thank goodness Elvis died young.

 
tonyreeves Author Profile Page :
 

The Wall Street Journal should stick to reporting versus expressing opinion.

It shouldn't be too surprising anyone that gamblers would rather gamble while at Atlantic City casino versus listen to music.

 
iowanic Author Profile Page :
 

Bob Dylan has earned the right to do whatever he pleases for however long he chooses. More to the point, we all have earned that right.

 
rdorff Author Profile Page :
 

I've long held the view that Dylan will still be remembered after the Beatles have been forgotten. His songs always had more to say than theres and will remain in the American conscience forever.

 
terryreport Author Profile Page :
 

The idea of Dylan playing to empty seats and indifferent gamblers is astounding, but he has chosen this path and is taking it wherever it leads. I remember about ten or twelve years ago, I saw his name as a headliner at King's Dominion, of all places. All barriers are down. He will play just about anywhere he's booked.

I am totally confused about why he bothers with his concerts. I saw him twice in the DC area probably close to fifteen years ago and he was not interested in actually singing the words of any of his songs, except "Forever Young", which I guess he does as some sort of tribute to his children. The songs are otherwise reinvented every night. The band plays what it wants to play and Dylan slurs his way along in whatever fashion he chooses.

To my mind, he now sees himself as some sort of traveling troubadour, taking on the mantle of those from whom he drew his inspiration and many of his early songs when he first went to New York as a 19 year old. He is paying homage to those who made Dylan possible and he likes what he is doing. Chances are, anyone under 30 had barely even heard of Dylan, unless, like my daughter, they grew up hearing him day by day.

I heard Paul Simon in a concert a few years back in DC and he was really great. The band behind him was as good as it gets. It was like a celebration. With Dylan, different story, but if he wants to rock on, then I saw, have at it.

I remember an event close to 20 years ago and Dylan was being made fun of by a cheap comic way back then. Up, down, round and about, Dylan plays on. This guy wrote and sang the number one song in the history of rock (according to Rolling Stone and many others). He changed American music forever. I don't understand why he wants to be out there til the last frog croaks, but he didn't ask me if he should record any of his songs, either. Rock on, Bob.

Doug Terry at The TerryReport

 
watt Author Profile Page :
 

So Bob Dylan is supposed to take the Wall St Journal's advice on his carrer?
Please keep going forever, Bob. Your current music is excellent, some of what I listen to every day!

 
dmon_57 Author Profile Page :
 

Are there age limits on success? NO, and the question leaves open the question of "what is sucess?".

Do you go out at the top of your talents, or do you soldier on, doing what you love?

Who says he's still not reaping the talent of songwriting? Just like Tom Waits, his fans listen beyond the torn curtain of his vocal delivery. It is the insights of his message, coupled with the time and the timelessness as a framework, which has made him a writer that will be read long after the majority of articles in the Washington Post have been forgotten and stored away as murals on floors in parakeet cages.

 
TomMiller1 Author Profile Page :
 

As long as it harms nobody else, always pursue what you enjoy as long as possible. Fame is fleeting and in the end largely irrelevant. The human spirit is eternal.

 
AndrewGMorrow Author Profile Page :
 

Please give Modern Times a listen and one will know what this man is still about.

 
catsndogs Author Profile Page :
 

Dylan's live performances have always been hit and miss. I've seen him dozens of times over the past 30+ years; sometimes he is brilliant, other times barely tolerable. It has nothing to do with his age. And for each brilliant performances, I'll put up with several that are mediocre. He is a true genius.

 
coqui44 Author Profile Page :
 

I'll say that the 'issue' with the Dylan question, to me, is not about when is a good time for a good artist to retire.

To me the question is: when is a good time to retire for the icon of a generation who told us to "don't follow leaders'. Mr. Dylan joined, late in life, the band of profit seekers. To go to a casino, a den of heartless owners squeezing the life out of mindless addicts, is unconscionable. Compulsive gambling is a under rated problem in the USA. Most of the people who go to the casinos are 'returners', meaning they go there at least once a month. It is from these people that the casino owners take their profits; it's not from the once a year visitors.

For Mr. Dylan to serve as a bait for the casino owners is truly heartbreaking.

 
dshepherd2 Author Profile Page :
 

I don't think Mr. Dylan is too concerned with what anybody thinks of his decision to keep performing, or of his style or condition of his voice. He never has been too bothered by his critics, and I doubt he'll begin to question himself now. If anything, he might consider becoming a bit more selective of the rooms he (still) chooses to play; performing at a casino must have represented something of a cosmic, ironic joke played on himself, just for the experience.

 
Dudlio Author Profile Page :
 

Well, it's like I tell my wife. I really like what I do, and I'll keep doing it as long as they'll pay me. When they stop then I'll probably do volunteer work. What is retirement these days anyway?

As far as musicians go, I love the Stones, Aerosmith etc., not much of a Dylan fan, but I don't go to their concertts anymore, I feel embarrased for them and I'd rather remember them as they were. Plus, let's face it, they're not as good as they used to be, heck, they're not even friends any more.

 
dunnhaupt Author Profile Page :
 

Austrian actor-singer Johannes Heesters, matinee idol of the early 1930's, still appears on stage in white tie and tails at age 103, and nostalgic seniors applaud him just for being able to stand up.

 
12thgenamerican Author Profile Page :
 

sometimes people walk out on you when you're young. look at obama. three quarters of the country just walked out on him and he 's what, 49?

 
jobro1 Author Profile Page :
 

Dylan could barely carry a tune, ever. He should have given up long ago. Ditto for Neil Young, Leonard Cohen and a host of other not-so-bad songwriters who succeeded in spite of their vocal deficiencies.

 
magfrm Author Profile Page :
 

For much of his career, Dylan was tormented by his status as an icon. Now he gets to go out and play the blues all night if he wants. As long as it's making him happy, why shouldn't he be doing it? We should know by now he's never needed anyone's approval, especially the Wall Street Journal's!

 
hit4cycle Author Profile Page :
 

Dylan might consider playing in venues where he would likely be more appreciated. Playing at a casino seems depressing but I guess the money's good.

 
nickthimmeschearthlinknet Author Profile Page :
 

Dylan does not sing and is not a singer: he may sing his lyrics but only as a means to an end, which is to convey a concept.

As with the late, great Grateful Dead, he has his good performances (actually, great performances) where it works and times it does not work for various reasons. Like the Dead, I have attended concerts where I left within moments because the "vibe" was not there, so I can see trying to win at black jack rather than sit through a bad set.

There have been hundreds of "covers" of Dylan songs which feature his lyrics, not his singing style. Dylan is at his best when he is breaking new ground, witness:

1) Going "electric" at Newport.
2) Going "country" with "Nashville Skyline"
3) Going religious with "Slow Train Coming" (my favorite)
4) Going personal with "Blood On The Tracks"
5) Going political with "Infidels"

Have there been clunkers in between? You betcha! Would fans always take a chance that the next set and/or album be another breakthrough: You betcha!

That's how he always keeps us coming back for more.

 
rexreddy Author Profile Page :
 

Bob Dylan is one of the greatest lyricists of all time.
That’s how he has been able to stay behind that microphone for so long.

In doing so he has opened the flood gates to vast multitudes of vocalists in the mediocre to horrid ranges of talent.

Elvis Costello.
Kid Rock
Lemmy
All the Grundge bands
All the Hardcore.

Many of them couldn’t even get through The Gong Show with out seeing the gong and the hook!

So vocally, Dylan has lowered the bar and made stardom possible for the less gifted multitudes.
He did it so well that some one actually asked Rosanne Barr to sing the national anthem at a sporting event!

I will never be able to sing like Freddy Mercury.
But if I ever have to, it comforts my soul to know I could earn a decent living covering Dylan tunes.
And I have the re-assurance that the American Dream can be just a few sour notes away.
Thank you Bob!

 
wiredog Author Profile Page :
 

Dylan's bad singing voice is nothing new. Back in the summer of 93 he was on a double bill with Santana at Wolf Trap. If he hadn't been the opener lots of people would've left. But we all wanted to hear Carlos.

 
MNUSA Author Profile Page :
 

Mind your own business, Wall Street Journal. I hope Bob Dylan goes on until he's 101.

 
roblimo Author Profile Page :
 

Look at (Sir) Paul McCartney. He sang and played on Jimmy Fallon's show in a totally casual, "just us friends" way that made mistakes okay. And he made some, just as you or I might if we were hanging out with a friend, picking and singing, instead of playing in a big hall.

McCartney's also plays tiny places now and then.

Is his voice as good as it once was? No. But then, neither is mine since the heart attack and all the tubes stuck down my throat. So either Zimmeran or McCartney are welcome to come over and play/sing and have supper with us any old time.

 
mmarrie231 Author Profile Page :
 

Just like a red rag. Who are you gona believe, Bob Dylan or The Red Wall Street Journal?

 
mft1 Author Profile Page :
 

The Wall Street Journal is old and irrelevant

 
tbo1969 Author Profile Page :
 


I heard him three years ago and his voice was so bad it took the audience 30 seconds to recognize what classic song he was singing. Saw him last year and he sounded great. I don't think his voice is gone, it's just playing hide and seek.

 
gjk811 Author Profile Page :
 

As any true artist knows, Dylan has earned the right to do the things that make him happy and satisfied.

 
kuvasz Author Profile Page :
 

I would give the same advice to a seventy year old Bob Dylan that I would give to a seven year old; do the things that make you happy and vital and ignore what anybody else thinks.

Not so much follow your bliss, but follow your blisters...... as any string player would.

 
pagun Author Profile Page :
 

I think the WSJ should retire instead of Bob Dylan.

 
dbert4 Author Profile Page :
 

Dylan is, since the beginning probably the most over-rated artist in the music business. As a song writer responsible for many good pieces, as a singer pathetic.

 
ClaytonRoberts Author Profile Page :
 

The Wall Street Journal? Cancelled my subscription when they moved to the right of the Tea Party. Then I cranked Dylan up a little louder.

 
Henry5 Author Profile Page :
 

Dylan has always been a good song writer and he has always had an awful singing voice. If you thought he was pleasant to listen to 50 years ago, then you probably still do.

 
dano3 Author Profile Page :
 

I've been a Dylan fan since I was a kid. He is in a class by himself. However, I have a hard time listening to him these days. His voice is just too grating. Perhaps he can still perform, but leave the singing to someone else.

 
RandyRobbinsMusicdotcom Author Profile Page :
 

People have been complaining about his voice his whole career. And especially for the past 15 years or so. Yet his fanbase is still rabid, and excited to catch him live, and eagerly awaits any new releases from him. And his touring band rocks.

But here's the thing... Dylan is a dynamic and idiosyncratic performer. Like Prince, or Madonna, he's changed identities/voices at his own whim many many times over his 50+ year career. Yet unlike many artists who've reinvented themselves over the years, he's done so, not to please his fanbase or fickle audiences, but because that's where his muse has taken him.

Every night he performs, his setlist is different. Even every line he sings, he sings differently depending on how it wants to come out on any given night. Songs that you know by heart and love dearly, almost never sound even close to the way they were on the record.

He's explained it before, and it's because he believes that a song is alive. It grows, and it changes (both lyrically, and musically). Any time he's singing any of his songs, the only thing that matters is how it comes out at that particular moment. Because that's how the song wants to sound at that particular moment. That makes it tough for audiences who are set in their ways, and want to hear what they already know and understand. But Dylan is a true artist. He wants the audience to understand and enjoy what he's doing, but not at the expense of what he feels he needs to do. And that's highly admirable in this day and age of 'short attention span pop fluff' and 'give the people what they want' attitudes.

That means that, yes, on some nights with some crowds, that 'laryngitic croak' can wreak havoc on your ear drums and make you want to walk out. But it also means that on some nights with some crowds, it's about as sublime as anything he's ever done.

So, in my opinion at least, he definitely should keep on keeping on... at least until he doesn't want to (or can't) do it anymore.

 



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