#5 – Modern Times – Bob Dylan
My top five albums from the five-year period 2006-2010 are an amazing bunch. Even more impressive is that all five are actually spread between 2006 and 2008, a wonderful three-year span in hindsight.
Bob Dylan’s Modern Times could have topped this list if I were in a different mood when I finalized it. When you’re dealing with albums this good, whatever you happen to be listening to at the moment has the edge in the rankings.
The New York Times stirred up a bit of controversy when they reported that a number of lyrics on Modern Times had apparently been lifted by Bob Dylan from Civil War era poet Henry Timrod. This followed the borrowing of several lines on Love and Theft from an obscure novel by Japanese writer Junichi Saga.
Serious fans of Bob Dylan, and of folk and blues music in general, consider this much ado about nothing. This sort of music is passed down through generations like an oral tradition, with each new artist building on what he borrows wholesale from those who’ve inspired him. Dylan has done that from day one, twisting together new songs from the melodies and text of time-worn classics.
In 2006, Bob Dylan completed the trifecta he began nine years earlier, releasing Modern Times as the follow-up to Time Out of Mind and Love and Theft.
This trio of albums rivals Dylan’s other stellar triple shots: Bring It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde On Blonde in the 60s; and Blood On the Tracks, The Basement Tapes and Desire in the 70s.
I’ve said it many times before in many different ways… most recording artists would sell their mothers for one string of albums as great as any of those. That Dylan has done it three times, among 25 other albums of varying degrees of greatness, is simply astounding.