What is Bob Dylan's weirdest song

Culture : The watch on the Rhine

Only the wind knows the answer to these two essential questions. Is Bob Dylan a great singer? Is Bob Dylan a political artist, was he ever?

Since the beginning of his career in the early 1960s, he has been offered the reputation of the protest singer, and he has always done a great deal to provoke and disappoint these expectations at the same time. May he croak like a Poe’s raven and show the gestures of an emaciated, abandoned dancing bear on stage - Dylan's heraldic animal remains the chameleon.

But the fans have never completely given up hope that the Prophet will speak one day. You could feel it at the Dylan concert on Bonn's Museumsplatz, the first of only two Germany gigs on his European tour in 2004. When he chanted the line: Even the President of the United States sometimes must have to stand naked, there is one Murmurs in the crowd. George W. Bush as a naked man, that's something, even if the position fits Clinton or Nixon or Vietnam-Johnson just as well. Sure, even with the "Masters of War", who hide behind walls and desks, a little helpless approval breaks out. Of course, he doesn't say a word about Bush or Iraq. And yet the well-known song about the warmongers and war profiteers is a highlight on Tuesday evening in the federal city. “The Times They Are A-Changing”, the tried and tested Wende classic, comes in second place, after the somewhat tired starter “Rainy Day Women”.

Is there really a new time coming in the US? Whether he is aware of it or not, Dylan plays for the America of which we Germans have always been proud. That is the one paradox. The other paradox concerns the poet who always wanted to be a pop star. If the chameleon has a hymn, then "It ain't me babe". It's not me. With that too he delights the hearts in Bonn. With its warm, rough sarcasm that gets more intense over the years: bitterly lively. The farewell songs ("Don't Think Twice"!) Are always the most thrilling.

It was easy to hear. A solid appearance by the 63-year-old in a black suit with red country ornaments and a cowboy hat on top. A show (if you can even call it that with the notoriously uncommunicative Dylan) without any major surprises. Exception: "This Wheel’s On Fire" from the cryptic, super productive phase of the basement sessions with The Band in the mid-sixties. An absolute rarity. The biblical wheel of fire rolls between the walls of Bonn's Museum Mile.

Dylan's tour band only gets really hot in the solos of the two guitarists Larry Campbell (who also plays steel guitar and Zitter) and Stuart Kimball. With Tony Garnier on bass, Dylan's most loyal companion on the never-ending tour, and George Recile, whom the master introduces as the best drummer on stage, there is a group of highly musical rockers and bodyguards on stage, Bob's occasional lyric hangers and the questioningly delayed entries put away the harmonica loosely.

Bob Dylan stuck for two hours, slightly crooked, on the right side of the stage, holed up behind the electric piano, you can only see him in profile. Hard to make out what he's jingling. He doesn't touch the guitar. But the rumors that he is now too calcified to grab the strings seem to be an invention of concerned fans. When performing with Willie Nelson in the United States, he was seen again with his traditional instrument.

Bob Dylan remains the strangest performer on the planet. Yes: only Dylan can sound out Dylan songs to the darkest depths. With this Sisyphus work ("Like A Rolling Stone"!) He is obviously far from finished. He was recently awarded an honorary doctorate from St. Andrews University in Scotland. And he accepted! Perhaps a milestone on the way to the due Nobel Prize for Literature. His second concert in Germany took him to Worms. The question of why he is doing this to himself can only be answered with loyalty to the Nibelung. The Dylan of the 21st century has something of the dark Hagen Tronje, while he used to swing the electric guitar like Jung-Siegfried the invincible sword. "All Along The Watchtower". Last encore. The watch on the Rhine.

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