Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Ten (Random) Reasons to Celebrate Bobby D’s 70th Birthday


By Scott Duhamel
1. Obviously, he is still here, constant, consistent and relentlessly performing and releasing record music on a regular basis, and despite his storied and magical mystery tour of a career, somehow becoming indistinguishable from the strange blur of his Never-Ending tour.
2. He has become, despite the copious amounts of money earned and the uncountable amount of press  and nitcriticism generated, the sort of old road dog he’s has always admired, a virtuous troubadour,  the proverbial wandering minstrel, dispensing bits of blues, folk, rock and roll, pop music and that old weird America to oldsters and (surprisingly enough) youngsters alike.
3. His current on stage persona—cowboy hat, slick western togs, boots with Spanish leather, is just about on par with his polka dot shirt-wearing  Dylan-goes-electric look on the overall All-Time Rock and Roll Coolness Scale.
4. His voice, the one that has undergone many styles and changes and a consistent barrage of criticism since he very first appeared on the scene, has turned into a uniquely indecipherable whelp during his live performances, a guttural rumbling that sounds like a combo of a slightly busted foghorn, the disembodied ghost of Muddy Waters and God stuck and in a long check-out line in the super market while muttering intently.
5. His weathered features have all melted into what singularly can be described as The Big Squint.
6. If you devote any time at all to listening to his collective works, whether you’ve been listening intently forever, or listening closely for a long time, or even checking in occasionally to decipher a new direction or a sudden musical highlight, there are still dozens of song discoveries just waiting to be uncovered. Perpetually.
7. Over his seemingly limitless recording and performing efforts he has utilized an ultra-hip and thoroughly disparate batch of collaborators and well-paid sideman, a sorta sideways who’s who of rock players and characters: Mike Bloomfield,  Al Kooper, Clydie King, The Band, T-Bone Burnet, Mick Ronson, Scarlett Riveria, Daniel Lanois, Mick Taylor, Stevie Van Zandt, The Greatful Dead, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, The Plugz, Charlie Sexton, Emmy Lou Harris,  Duke Robillard, George Harrison., and that’s just the quickest of glances.
8. The Never-Ending Tour always purposefully gigs at minor league parks, an unarguably smart decision.
9. The Great Mysterio / Mr. Ironic somehow matured (or mutated)  to the point of becoming at least partially (and quite) publically mellow after a lifetime of rambunctiousness and beat-like contentiousness,  managing to write a fascinating book that actually revealed a bit about himself and also spending a rollicking good time as the ever pleasant (and amusingly eye-winking ) host of vastly entertaining satellite radio show.
10. Finest overall collection of song titles evah, bar none, not even up for debate. That’s just the titles, mofo.

Ten (Random) Reasons to Celebrate Bobby D’s 70th  Birthday