Bob Dylan, sloppy analysis and hearing what we want to hear

Literary criticism, musical criticism and theological criticism are notoriously difficult. The reason that they are so hard is the question of subjectivity. In the early years of the 20th century, a noted conservative theologian said the following of a liberal scholar:

“The Christ that he sees, looking back through nineteen centuries of Catholic darkness, is only the reflection of a Liberal Protestant face, seen at the bottom of a deep well.”

It is a very clever idea but could the equal statement also be said of the more conservative thinker. We want our God to be like our theology says he should be. Otherwise we are wrong and that is hard to bear. We want our heroes to be like us. Otherwise that is burdensome.

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Bob Dylan – “Saved” reassessed.

I was in my mid-teens when “Saved” was released. I’d just begun to discover Bob Dylan’s music around then but, to be honest, I was far more interested in albums like “The Times They Are A-Changin'” than “Saved” or “Slow Train Coming”. I’d caught on to the singles from “Street Legal” via Annie Nightingale’s radio show but really nothing else of his contemporary work was even on my radar. From “…Changin'”, I made the predictable moves to “Highway 61 Revisited” and “Blonde on Blonde” and for me Dylan was an interesting master songwriter from the 1960s.

I could be seen around college with a copy of “Writings and Drawings” under my arm but even in that my interest faded after the “John Wesley Harding” album.

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