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On the surface, Bob Dylan and Paul Simon appear to share much in common. Both are famous Jewish singer-songwriters who came to prominence in the '60s for writing generation-defining songs that merged pop and folk music. Of course, they also toured together in 1999's biggest classics tour -- where both of them worked hard to make sure they put a new spin on oldie material. Look beneath the surface, however, and there are more differences than similarities between the two cultural icons. Here's a Dish list that exposes just how contrary the two men are:
BIRTHPLACE: Minnesota in 1941/New Jersey in 1941 ARTISTIC
STARTING POINT: Manhattan's Greenwich Village/Manhattan's Brill Building
FIRST RECORDINGS: Woody Guthrie imitations/doo wop imitations
STAGE NAME CHANGES: from Robert Zimmerman to Bob Dylan/from Paul Simon to Tom and Jerry to Simon & Garfunkel back to Paul Simon
CLOTHING CHOICE: leather jacket/cashmere sweater HAIR: Bushy-haired/Balding
MUSICAL REFERENCE POINT: Highway 61/Bridge Over Troubled Water
FEMALE NAME AS TITLE: Absolutely Sweet Marie/Cecilia
FORMAL NAMES AS TITLES: Mr. Tambourine Man/Mrs. Robinson GEOLOGICAL SONG TITLE: Like a Rolling Stone/I Am a Rock MATRIARCHAL SONG REFERENCE: It's Alright Ma, I'm Only Bleeding/Mother and Child Reunion
SOUNDTRACKS: Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid/The Graduate
FAILED MOVIES: Renaldo & Clara/One Trick Pony
FAILED VENTURE: His own record company/his own Broadway play Surprising Mid-Career Turn: Christian music/South African music
BANDS: Small/Large
CONCERTS: Tours constantly/Tours rarely
 


Is there a holiday better suited to rock 'n' roll than the weeks between Halloween and Thanksgiving? After all, rock is the perfect stage for those wanting to re-invent themselves into something more powerful and more outrageous. Rock can be about donning a persona that frightens, and it can be about putting on masks and wrapping oneself in the colorful cloak of an eccentric character. Rock encourages performers to magnify their compulsions, to exaggerate their desires, and to intensify their idiosyncrasies. Rock goads its practitioners to present themselves as something monstrous and offensive, or to transform themselves into someone outlandish and wildly entertaining.

 



DAVID BOWIE certainly understands these concepts. Over two decades of re-invention and transformation, the one-time Ziggy Stardust has never hovered for long in one place with his music or his image. On his latest album, hours..., he takes on a new guise: the sensitive, aging man measuring his life and acknowledging his shortcomings and disappointments. Set to a richly produced electronic musicscape that turns the cool sheen of modernism into something melodic and warm, Bowie's album finds him crooning melancholy songs that have more in common with W.B. Yeats and T.S. Eliot than with Reznor or Cobain. He's looking at a man's life in a large lens and speaking of the grander pursuits of an individual rather than discussing personal aspects like relationships and self-fulfillment. By acting grown-up instead of straining to be cutting edge, Bowie has presented his most effective album of the '90s.
 

  KOOL KEITH likes multiple personas and outrageous costumes as well. Keith -- also known as Dr. Dooom, Poppa Large and several other "nom de plumes" -- is an underground electronica prince best-known for his work as Dr. Octagon and as part of the groundbreaking Ultramagnetic MC's collective. Keith's new album, Black Elvis/Lost in Space, continues to spawn new personalities. Musically, he leans more on hip hop and rap than he did on 1997's Sex Style album, spinning outrageously hilarious rhymes that suggest he's as inventive as a wordsmith as he is as a sampler and mixmaster. He blends atmospheric, highly textured arrangements with bouncing, eccentric beats, and his cutting commentary on the misplaced values of gangsta rap and preening hip hop stars proves that he's as bold as he is bright.  
 
ME'SHELL NDEGEOCELLO also transforms herself into someone new on her recently released album, bitter. A woman who shaves her head and openly discusses her bisexuality at the start of her career isn't afraid of being whoever she wants to be. It's not surprising to find this compelling artist shifting into an entirely new sound on her third album. Ditching the mature funk of her outstanding earlier albums,

Ndegeocello concentrates on creating lush, artful urban music that crosses the somber, atmospheric sides of Joni Mitchell and Stevie Wonder. Using strings and synths to create a modern form of chamber pop, Ndegeocello presents hushed lullabies that explore issues of identity, faith and emotional balance following an acrimonious breakup with a longtime lover. It's a powerful, fully realized work.  
  Meanwhile, the American state that best understands the value of costumes and wild celebrations is undoubtedly Louisiana. Allons En Louisiane is a new, well-chosen compilation that samples some of the best of the state's traditional music performers. Besides presenting a lively sampler of Cajun, Zydeco and South Louisiana roots music, the disk includes an interactive CD Rom that provides insider guide to the sights, sounds and -- this being Louisiana -- tastes, pointing out little-known restaurants and nightclubs as well as information about Cajun cooking and dancing. So put it on and, as Beausoleil's Michael Doucet suggests in his expressive French Cajun tenor, "Bon temps rouler!" -- that is, let the good times roll!  
www.Dishmag.com / Issue 2 - September 2018
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