I wonder if people born after about 1960 realize what a sensation and mystique Dylan had in those early decades. He performed in public until 1966, when he suffered a motorcycle accident and then more or less went underground to recover. The listening public wondered if he'd ever sing or play a concert again. His albums and songs were already mythical, and for better or worse, he was considered the voice of the younger generation. Those early albums contained one great song after another, rendered in what was a new folk-rock language of cascading similes and imagery pushed out to unheard of lengths, hanging together by its own boldness, much of it in a Dylan code we tried to translate. Most of us could quote half a dozen Dylan lines at least, and he was widely adopted as a young guru, even a type of mystic.
There were already dozens of big stars, but Dylan stood apart because of his songs and their strangely appealing nature, He was certainly regarded as a prophet, and he's said that reputation became overwhelming. As the weeks and months wore on with no direct word from Dylan, rumors flew, Was he paralyzed? Would he never sing or record again? Was he dead?
I don't remember exactly when he reappeared on the concert stage. Was it about 1973 or 1974?
Today, and for the past 40 years or more, we have been absolutely swamped and flooded with celebrities and stars. We hear about them many times a day and cannot escape them if we look at the media or walk past a magazine stand. We know far too much about them, or rather, we know far too much of what their press agents and advertising agencies release about them, which is mostly contrived and false, They are jammed down our throats,
Yet for years Dylan was a mystery. Times have changed. And Dylan has a new song.