Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Bob Dylan - Tight Connection To My Heart

(Columbia, 1985)

It occurs to me: you know what Bob Dylan needs? Synthesized horns and strings, drum machines, guitar solos, a laid-back vibe, state-of-the-’80s production, and – most important of all! – a bunch of terrible songs. Imagine such a thing! It’d be peachyperfect, a real creative and commercial step forward for America’s #1-favorite Voice Of A Generation. OH WAIT, WHAT’S THIS?? HELLO, HIT LP EMPIRE BURLESQUE! My prayers iz answered!

Now pardon me please while I go throw up for entirely unrelated reasons.

Hi! I’m back! Embarrassing as it is, at least “Tight Connection to My Heart” isn’t as rotten as the other songs on the album, and in fact gets the honor of being the best of the bunch, aside from the incongruous acoustic throwback “Dark Eyes.” Yes, Dylan’s weird, hiccupy vocal performance sounds like a self parody, and yes, he is swallowed up by the wholly inappropriate use of then-modern musical technology, but the song is catchy in its own knuckleheaded way and gets to function today as a novelty item that succeeds at bringing on laughter and groans, and maybe a tapping toe or two. It’s memorable, even. Perhaps not for the reasons Dylan might have liked, but memorable nonetheless. As far as these “aging rock-guy trying to update his sound” things go, the single is hardly a disaster.

But get this. “We Better Talk This Over,” from Street Legal, turns up on the B-side, and I’ll be damned if I know why. It’s certainly not a song that needed or deserved to be resurrected seven years after its original release, and its appearance here is very strange indeed. Maybe Bob wanted to rehabilitate the reps of those older records by demonstrating how comparatively not-shitty they were when placed next to his current material?

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