Here’s one of my Christmas presents from my folks a couple of years ago, Bob Dylan Revisited: 13 Graphic Interpretations Of Bob Dylan’s Songs. As the title obliquely hints at, this lovely hardback features 13 graphic interpretations of Bob Dylan’s songs*. All are done by different artists from different countries, some I knew like Zep, most I didn’t; the biggest name being one of my graphic all-timers, Dave McKean.
As a long-time Dylan hound, raised by Dylan hounds, this music is in my blood – I can hear it humming and gurgling the melody to ‘Shelter From The Storm’ when I lay my head on my pillow at night. True story. At his most vicious and vibrant no artist piles up the images like Dylan, I listened to ‘Desolation Row’ today which is a case in point; it’s an appraisal for another day but that song is so immense you could use it as Archimedes’ lever if your fancy ran that way. Also, given such a voluminous back catalogue this must have been a dream brief for any artist worth their salt.
As you’d expect the results are variable, both in style and quality in places. ‘Like A Rolling Stone’, a song so _______ that I have to leave a space to insert the adjective worthy enough to praise it, once mankind has evolved sufficiently to do produce language adequate for the task, seems to have been done by a quartet of bozos who opt for an entirely non-literal interpretation of the lyrics, fine. But instead of the apocalyptic torrent of playful spite, we get a dollop of blandness, nothing incisive enough to draw the blood as the lyrics demand as their levy.
Christopher’s gentle cartoon style sets up the killer denouement of ‘Positively 4th Street’ by soothing you first. The converse of this is Gradimir Smudja’s wonderful, detailed, forceful depiction of ‘Hurricane’, which is a song I must have once a week minimum; my favourite line being the one I pinched for the title of this post. Dave McKean’s atomic vision of ‘Desolation Row’, using his drawings and collage work is worth the price of admission alone, the power of his singer facing the crowd at the end is wonderful, which I’ve undermined below with my paltry Lego, but there you go.Again. I adore romantic Dylan, but I have to say it’s angry, spiteful Dylan I love, now I only know about Rubin Carter via ‘Hurricane’ but Dylan? He certainly ain’t no Gentleman Jim.
In short, a thoroughly interesting book for comic buffs and Dylan completists alike. I’d recommend it. In fact as another of my favourites, ‘Shelter From The Storm’ isn’t in the book, I might be inspired to illustrate it myself, using my own, umm, unique artistic talents. Hmm, a project.
494 Down (still)
* I can slow down a bit if you’re not keeping up here, just raise your hand.