Reuters has published a story ("Dylan says modern recordings 'atrocious') today that got me to do some thinking.
According to the article filed from Los Angeles, the 65-year-old singer-songwriters was quoted by Rolling Stone magazine as saying "I don't know anybody who's made a record that sounds decent in the past 20 years, really."
I wonder if Robert Zimmerman has actually taken the time to listen. Neil Young has made a few classics during that stretch, notably "Harvest Moon" (1992) and "Mirror Ball" (1995). In fact, including efforts such as the rocking "Ragged Glory" (1990), beautiful "Prairie Wind" (2005) and raging "Living With War" (released earlier this year), Neil Young has released as many great albums since turning 40 as he did in the first part of his music-making career.
The same can be said for Canadian great Bruce Cockburn. Start with "Breakfast in New Orleans Dinner in Timbuktu" (1999), and then get a well-worth-it earful of "You've Never Seen Everything" (2003) and this year's powerful "Life Short Call Now."
Let me point Bob to another few artists who didn't even get started until the 1990s or '00s. The Cranberries' "Bury the Hatchet" is one of the best rock albums I've ever heard and Dolores O'Riordan never sounded better. The disc boasts a lyrical journey that blends global concerns with intimate struggles, and the music soars. American radio just didn't have the guts to give it a try when it was released in 1999.
And anyone who reads this blog frequently knows how strongly I feel about the work of a number of other '90s outfits, notably dada ("Puzzle," "American Highway Flower" and "El Subliminoso" are timeless efforts), Toad the Wet Sprocket ("Fear," "Dulcinea" and "Coil" still sound as fresh as ever).
And, of course, there well-recognized landmark efforts from the Cure ("Disintegration," "Wish"), U2 ("Achtung Baby," "All That You Can't Leave Behind"), Moby ("Play"), Keane ("Hopes and Fears") and Snow Patrol ("Final Straw") that are among the countless original music masterworks released during the stretch. Again, dismissing all music is great fodder for magazine articles. But, I think Bob Dylan might be better off listening to some music once in awhile.
And if all else fails, get a soundcheck courtesy of notable releases from Charlie Musselwhite, Dead Can Dance, Depeche Mode, Radiohead, Coldplay, World Party, Vinnie James, Altered State, Pearl Jam, Lee Rocker, Bright Blue Gorilla, Scarlet Crush, Walter Clevenger & the Dairy Kings, Mel, Lunar Rover, Michael Ubaldini, Social Distortion...the list goes on.