Triplicate: Dylan’s Joke
We are still talking about Dylan’s absence at the Nobel Award Ceremony; why is he so cold? Why isn’t he proud? He first acknowledges the prize in his website and then removes the mention?
Everyone puzzled, missing the point. Dylan doesn’t care what we think, he isn’t bothered with what we want from him; he is a man on a mission. And while we waste our time feeding the dark legend, he sings, in his new album, to the glamorous young Broadway of Tin Pan Alley, smoky jazz-clubs and dangerous dancers.
“Out of the tree of life I just picked me a plum
You came along and everything started’in to hum
Still it’s a real good bet
The best is yet to come”. The best is yet to come; Carolyn Leigh.
Dylan chooses to sing these words now that he has understood simplicity. Serious songwriters with not enough experience overload their language to sound pompous and ostentatious, but the truth is, music is a channel not the ultimate goal. As such, it is to remain understandable by the listener, not a senseless mind-trip.
With songs like “The Best is yet to come”, the album-opener, and “I could have told you” he stares at these old standards and gives them a new life, his own troubled one, through which one can see them as new testimonies.
Triplicate presents more elaborate arrangements of these songs than its antecessors (Shadows in the Night and Fallen Angels), all compositions extracted from the American Songbook. The addition of a horn section in 4 of the tunes proves a wonderful trampoline for Dylan to explore the subtleties of the melodies and become a crooner, a new mask to explore by the legend-hunters.
Popularized by Sinatra and written throughout the first half of the 20th century, Stardust (Carmichael/Parish), Sentimental Journey (Brown/Homer/Green) and Once Upon a Time (Strouse/Adams), among many others, frame an album that is no more and no less than a homage to Dylan’s origins. He has pointed the importance of Sinatra’s figure many times during his life as a key element to understand the musical revolution that took place in the 60’s. An example from 2015, after releasing Shadows in the Night:
Bob Dylan will get criticized for doing another “boring album with no original songs”, but he is only closing the circle. He entered the world stage with an earthquake when he betrayed the idols of folk music, and he will exit it leaving many questions unanswered. He’s doing what he loves best, reinventing it while at it and pulling another sarcastic joke on the public… Marvelous.
Note: What has been released up to date is a 10-song sampler. Triplicate contains 30 songs.
- Exclusive interview on Bob Dylan.com after the release (Mar 22, 2017): https://bobdylan.com/news/qa-with-bill-flanagan/
- Listen to the songs: http://www.npr.org/2017/03/23/520841609/first-listen-bob-dylan-triplicate
Arcadio Falcon. 2017.