In the Central Market this morning as I shopped for strawberries, they were playing top-end-of-vintage Elvis all morning. And in the car on the way in I caught the whole segment on Andrew Ford's fabulous Music Show of Dylan tragics Imre Salusinszky (with whom I once worked, and a good colleague he was too) and the brilliant Amanda Rose from Flop Eared Mule, talking beautifully about Dylan's Sydney concerts, and his latest album, and all things Dylan in general.
I've almost stopped listening to music (and am still trying to work out what that's about -- something to do with it being too important to do in passing or as background; go figure), so I haven't heard Modern Times at all. But at the end of the segment, Ford played a track from it called 'Spirit on the Water'. Imre had earlier been cursing the Philip Morris Company for what Dylan's voice now sounds like at 66, but although much of what musicality he had in his youth is gone, I noticed something very odd: he is more precisely on pitch than he used to be, and though his notes are no longer resonant nor sustained, he drills a sweet hole straight through the middle of the pitch in a way that sounds new to me.
It was a lovely upbeat track, light years away from the venomous snarl of some of the really early songs -- I still can't listen to 'Positively 4th Street' without feeling a bit sick -- or the tragic edge of Blood on the Tracks, and I wound the window right down to give the crowds of pedestrians the full benefit as I crawled down through the almost-gridlocked Gouger Street.
Amanda reckons His Bobness will come back to Australia maybe one more time, when he's about 70, and will spend the concerts sitting on a stool, alone in a spotlight, with an acoustic guitar and nothing else. I hope she's right. I'll go to that one.