With “Rough and Rowdy Ways”, Bob Dylan shines his last light…
Just when we were no longer expecting him, the soon-to-be octogenarian folk poet is releasing (this Friday, June 19th) a new album of original songs, eight years after “Tempest”, with “Murder Most Foul”, his evocation of Kennedy’s assassination, and a striking collection of twilight songs interpreted in an almost light voice.
Released on the Net at the end of March in the midst of the Covid pandemic, and quickly going viral (then number one on the American Billboard!), Murder Most Foul could pass for the isolated gesture of an ageing bard, always capable of surprising. This seventeen-minute river, a late, intensely poetic and ultra-referential account of the assassination of John Kennedy in November 1963, challenged the listener’s patience and the fan’s eternal thirst for deciphering.And it was precisely its entirely spoken form, soberly set to music, that provided access to its many details, whether they were biblical metaphors of this “abominable murder” or quotes from fifty years of American pop culture.
Between sacred text and testamentary thumbscrews, it was actually the announcement of an upcoming album, which here it is today. Bob Dylan has since sacrificed to the promotional ritual of “unveiling” (the pretty word) with two other new songs, more classical in style. They are here at the head of the program. I Contain Multitudes, more than sung on a clear guitar line, is a kind of self-portrait of the artist as a composite poet and eternal player.” I am a man of contradictions, a man of changing moods,” he laughs. False Prophet follows, completing (or obscuring?) the picture by defining the subject in the negative: “I am not a false prophet, I say what I say.” We’re back in urban blues mode, rougher.