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Self Portraitby Bob Dylan
There has never been a clearer attempt to shed an audience than Self-Portrait. At least, that's one way of looking at this baffling double album, a deliberately sprawling affair that runs the gamut from self-portrait to self-parody, touching on operatic pop, rowdy Basement Tapes leftovers, slight whimsy, and covers of/i>/a>/i>… See more details below
There has never been a clearer attempt to shed an audience than Self-Portrait. At least, that's one way of looking at this baffling double album, a deliberately sprawling affair that runs the gamut from self-portrait to self-parody, touching on operatic pop, rowdy Basement Tapes leftovers, slight whimsy, and covers of wannabe Dylans from Paul Simon to Gordon Lightfoot. To say the least, it's confusing, especially arriving at the end of a decade of unmitigated brilliance, and while the years have made it easier to listen to, it still remains inscrutable, an impossible record to unlock. It may not be worth the effort, either, since this isn't a matter of deciphering cryptic lyrics or interpreting lyrics, it's all about discerning intent, figuring out what the hell Dylan was thinking when he was recording -- not trying to decode a song. There are times where it's quite clearly played for a laugh -- if his shambling version of "The Boxer" isn't a pointed parody of Paul Simon, there was no reason to cut it -- but he's poker-faced elsewhere, and the songs (apart from such earthed gems as "Mighty Quinn," which aren't presented in their best versions) are simply not worth much consideration. But, in a strange way, Self Portrait is, because decades have passed and it still doesn't make much sense, even for Dylanphiles. That doesn't necessarily mean that it's worth the time to figure it out -- you're not going to find an answer, anyway -- but it's sort of fascinating all the same.
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- Sbme Special Mkts.
Performance CreditsBob Dylan Primary Artist
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When I saw Bob Dylan in concert a couple years ago, I shouted out a request for "Wigwam." Everyone looked at me like I was insane. Admittedly, I did it for a laugh and a reaction, just because "Self Portrait" is perhaps the most controversial Dylan album ever released. I personally think it's Dylan's most underrated record, but it's obviously not for everyone. It was Dylan's cosmic goof in '70- a tongue-in-cheek attempt to shrug off his overblown fame and obsessive fans. He certainly succeeded in that. Unfortunately, I still love the record despite his efforts. If you like "Nashville Skyline," you might the country rock of this one too. I personally prefer Dylan's country to a lot of more authentic country artists. No offense intended, of course. Yes, there are some covers, but I like some of the covers even more than their originals. It was like Dylan was covering everyone to get back at everyone who was covering him at the time. It's a good, relaxing record. Make sure you hear it if you are a Dylan fan, before you slag it off. The samples on this page will give you a taste of what to expect. And no, it's not his worst album. At least this album doesn't have a Jewish man singing Christian rock....."Saved" anyone?
This may not be a Blonde On Blonde or a Blood on the Tracks, but it is truly amazing!
Well after the promise of " When I paint my masterpiece..." Everyone thought this was it. Ha Ha and it was him doing a self portrait using other people's music.. It was so cool... I remember when friends came home with the albumn and we just scrambled to put it on the turntable... What a surprise! ha ha... Love ya, Bob
There are some interesting things here but this is one of the few Dylan albums you can skip without missing much. For they die-hard Dylan fan only.