Bob Dylan, Modern Times

Douglas Wolk

By Douglas Wolk

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Modern Times

Bob Dylan

The title isn't quite ironic, it's just disapproving. 65-year-old Dylan is settled comfortably into his latest persona, a slim, slick, slightly disreputable old rake who "can't go to Paradise no more/I killed a man back there," and he's drawing direct lines between his own work and an American popular song tradition that ended right around the time he started recording. In practice, that means he's borrowing more freely than ever before from the old-time pop and blues records he loves. "Rollin 'and Tumblin'" lifts its arrangement from Muddy Waters 'version, "When the Deal Goes Down" cops a Bing Crosby melody, and that's just the beginning — and a number of lines from Confederate poet Henry Timrod, of all people, are sprinkled throughout the album.