Dylan is disarmingly honest, almost consistently dour and his songs seldom achieve any full unity of concept.
Like a jigsaw puzzle, many of the separate parts, and occasionally some of the combined pieces, are fascinating and obviously the product of a talented craftsman in imagery. But on none of Dylan's compositions is a full picture ever completed.
Dylan's songs are as unclassifiable as the costumes of his most devoted young admirers because uniformity and conformity are the antithesis of this restless and cynical generation's philosophy.
He doesn't really sing much either. It's mostly a shouting, wailing narrative, and his blank verse lyrics are as irregular as the charts and meters.
It isn't emotionally or physically easy to attend a Dylan concert but it's provocative and rewarding in a degree seldom found elsewhere in American artistic expression. Phil Elwood was the jazz critic for the San Francisco Examiner (and later the Chronicle) for more than 35 years.
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