Prince George is getting something Stockholm couldn't manage: Bob Dylan.
Yes, it's true, there's a vagabond who's rapping at your door, standing in the clothes that you once wore. He changed the times, he blew answers into the wind and he is coming to CN Centre on July 22.
The most recent accolade Dylan has earned is as unusual as his innovative career. Although he did not attend the ceremony in Sweden, he was bestowed with the Nobel Prize for Literature this past year, in a strange but inspired realization that his words have been a clear mirror reflecting distorted times, even if they were themselves ambiguous.
He has entertained generations although he has never been merely an entertainer. His songs were catchy, but also caught the spirit of the age. All Along The Watchtower, Knocking On Heaven's Door, A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall, Subterranean Homesick Blues, Like A Rolling Stone - these weren't hits, they were events in history. If there really was a Great American Songbook, he would have the entire first chapter.
There are other great writers, of course, even contemporaries of Dylan's. But Ian Tyson said "We all kind of followed (Bob Dylan)," and he in fact wrote some of his own best stuff trying to keep up with his Greenwich Village neighbour.
Some call Bruce Springsteen the greatest of the rock 'n' roll folkies, but when Dylan was inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame, it was Springsteen who held the door open with the induction speech in 1988, then did it again 10 years later when Dylan was the focus of the Kennedy Centre Honors Night.
When The Citizen was talking with legendary Canadian rocker Tom Cochrane a few weeks ago, and the conversation came to the mere two songs Cochrane had ever covered on record (Leonard Cohen's Bird On A Wire and Annette Ducharme's Sinking Like A Sunset), and who would he ever cover if forced to pick a third, Cochrane said "Dylan."
Cochrane calls himself a lyrical reporter, a rock 'n' roll journalist, and if anyone could teach that skill it would be the great folk poet Dylan. While many of the 1960s super-songs were protest anthems that called out authority and railed against war, Dylan was a genius at telling stories and usually imbedded the protest in the subliminal narrative of his songs. He was a social commentator. He lived out the "show, don't tell" principal of artistic expression. He was the high water mark in what Cochrane, and so many multitudes more, took up as the songwriter's mission.
That's how Dylan became the recipient of the Nobel and also the Pulitzer prizes, by applying literature to the craft of songwriting. And there seems to be no end to it. Some artists are happy with a hit or two, but Dylan seemed to yawn quality songs a dozen times a day. His compositions fill entire book volumes and university courses are taught on trying to interpret them.
His solo career spanned decades, and included a period where his backing group The Band was as much a collaboration as it was a soloist with ensemble. Together Dylan and The Band broke the rules of folk music by infamously plugging in their instruments and turned the genre over to rock 'n' roll.
Then he did the collaboration configuration again with the Traveling Wilburys supergroup. And in the most recent of times he wrote the basis for the recent country hit Wagon Wheel, then Adele hit the top of the pops with his tune Make You Feel My Love, then he reimagined a collection of Frank Sinatra songs his own way on the well-selling companion albums Shadows In The Night and Fallen Angels. The third in this series, Triplicate, was released just in January.
He's both a tweeter and a monkeyman. He's a tambourine man even when his hands are full with guitar. He's down on Highway 61 no matter what the map says. He's gonna make you lonesome when he goes. And he's coming to Prince George.
Tickets go on sale in the jingle-jangle morning of Friday at CN Centre box office and all Ticketmaster outlets. Prices range from $65 to $85 (plus local taxes/service fees).