Back in the sixties when the country was enamored with the incredible, sometimes outrageous talent and intensity of the young Bob Dylan, who would have thought that we'd see him forty some-odd years later, still stealing the spotlight and intriguing yet another generation. Not only has Dylan made a welcome comeback to the center of things, he's still doing it on his own terms.
With the critical and chart success of Time Out Of Mind along with three Grammys (including Rock Album of the Year), Dylan seems both timeless and fresh. Few writer-artists in history have experienced the longevity or had the dominance that Dylan has had over his audience and his peers. His impact and influence on countless other artists also is unparalleled.
Dylan has demonstrated his total commitment to his musical art through all the rough-and-tumble periods with critics and audiences over the years. For whatever reason, he has been relentlessly on the road for what seems like the last five or six years. To that end alone he deserves every bit of the credit and praise I and millions of others give him.
The other great comeback is also completely deserved. I'm speaking of another American icon, Johnny Cash, who, at age 66, put the best Country Album Grammy under his belt! Not only that, but he did it with his second release on the independent label, American Recordings. The CD, Unchained, is a classic from a classic American singer and songwriter.
People often forget what a giant of a writer Cash is, although his American Recordings releases have included songs from an impressive list of other writers as well .
The country boom of recent years also resulted in such greats as Cash and Merle Haggard being ignored by major labels and mainstream radio. In a well-timed ad in a March issue of Billboard magazine, Johnny offered his "Thank You" with sharp-edged sarcasm. The full-page ad reads: "American Recordings and Johnny Cash would like to acknowledge the Nashville music establishment and country radio for your support." The accompanying photo was from Cash's , early, wild days: he's flipping his middle finger at the camera.
Aside from the bantering back and forth, Johnny Cash is truly great piece of America and American music history. It does my heart good to see him reaping the success of one of the all-time survivors! Bravo!
Award-winning songwriter and painter Alan Rhody will perform two sets of original songs Saturday, April 25 at the Rudyard Kipling, beginning at 9 p.m.