Bob Dylan

Music seen at the Cumberland County Civic Center, October 4, 2007
By DEIRDRE FULTON  |  October 10, 2007

Let’s get a couple things straight. Bob Dylan is my favorite musician. I think he is a master songwriter — old stuff and new. I have a personal connection with many of his songs; the people that I love and hate the most all have signature Dylan songs that I associate with them. “Positively 4th Street,” for reasons that stretch far beyond its lyrics and tune, is one of my Top Five Favorite Songs of All Time. When I joke about wanting to marry the man, I’m only half kidding, despite our vast difference in age and general vitality.

But when I saw Dylan perform at the Cumberland County Civic Center last Thursday night, I felt like I was watching a husk of my hero, listening to music that I would hate if it wasn’t coming out of the mind and mouth of Bobby D. It was like waking up next to someone and realizing that he’s simply no longer the man you fell in love with. Better to get out now, with good memories intact.

So that’s what we did — we left early.

We’d heard practically spoken-word renditions of “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat” (his opener), and “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right.” We’d borrowed a friendly neighbor’s binoculars to get a closer glimpse of the pint-sized figure up on stage, the one with the black suit, the white cowboy hat, and the rough, grumbly voice. We’d tried to make ourselves care about lively-but-largely-unintelligible bluesy songs from his more recent albums.

The biggest cheer came toward the end of “Spirit on the Water,” from his 2006 release, Modern Times: “You think I’m over the hill,” he mumble-shouted, “You think I’m past my prime.” The audience was telling him they didn’t — but it was hard to believe they weren’t clinging to the past, too.

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