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From 'Basement Tapes Complete' to His Quirky Christmas Lights, the Question Comes: Is There Really Any Truth Behind Dylan?

By Ian Holubiak i.holubiak@classicalite.com on Dec 31, 2014 10:10 AM EST

It seems that with Dylan, there is an unhealthy obsession with deciphering the genius — cracking what is probably the Dylan Code. With his latest release, The Basement Tapes Complete, and upcoming Sinatra cover album, Shadows in the Night, it is a wonder if his talent can be taken as strictly musical.

If you have read the first — and arguably only — installation of his autobiography, Chronicles: Volume 1, even his own words are subject to a scavenger hunt to unveil that he ultimately lifted phrase, lines, even complete concepts from obscure texts, including one from Asia about a Mafioso — or hit man, by some accounts.

But, as Joe Levy at Medium indicates, The Basement Tapes are of another dimension, another time and space occupied outside the realm of judgment. It was a big jam session, there were no clocks and there was no pressure of limitation.

This pressure to unveil the "truth" of Dylan's iconography has stretched beyond fandom and poured into obsession. I mean, there was even a satirical write-up about his Christmas lights. There could be a "truth" hidden in the lights, absolutely.

And as Ellen Willis wrote of Dylan back in 1967, "Not since Rimbaud said 'I is another' has an artist been so obsessed with escaping identity."

She continued: "Dylan's refusal to be known is not simply a celebrity's ploy, but a passion that has shaped his work."

So whether you think he is bestowing the most unequivocal sermons from his pedestal or you think he is just trying to find his center, there is probably no explanation beyond his stoic countenance.

And for now, thus, just take pleasure in what has been, what is to come and what is below from the Tambourine Man himself:

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TagsBob Dylan, Arthur Rimbaud, The Basement Tapes Complete, Shadows in the Night, Chronicles, Tambourine Man