Bob Dylan announced today that his new album will be Frank Sinatra covers.
This will likely draw the ire of many music fans and critics who love to hate old man Dylan. Of course, recent years have become dedicated to his legacy making. It almost feels like people want to send him out to pasture so they can have the young Dylan back — book after book, film after film, calls for his to become a nobel laureate. Perhaps the American obsession with tearing down idols is at play. Why can’t he be the Bob Dylan we want him to be? “Dylan’s lost it,” people say. “His voice sounds terrible.”
Bullshit, I say. I love wacky, “bad” Bob Dylan. Saved, his Christian gospel record. His hilarious Christmas album. His plagiarized memoir, about which he said “wussies and pussies complain about that stuff.” His 15 minute song about the Titanic. His love of Alicia Keys. His cameo on Pawn Stars. His crazy car commercial, his crazy Victoria Secret commercial. And that time the cops thought he was homeless. Give us more of weird Dylan.
Speaking of weird guitarist, Esteban has been hocking classical guitars on QVC for years. Dressed in all black with shades and a ridiculous hat, ponytail and rings, his flamenco jazz has long entertained college stoners at 4 AM. But there’s more to Esteban than his pirate get up and affected accent. Esteban claims that early on he studied with Andres Segovia, the most famous guitarist of all time. His obsession with Segovia has led many rivals (he has many) to dispute his friendship with the guitar master. All that exists is a single picture of the two them and a book Segovia signed to Esteban.
According to a profile from 2000 in the Phoenix New Times (well worth the read) Esteban’s blow up the picture with Segovia to near life size in his Arizona home. It towers over everything else in his house. It reminds me of Dylan’s obsession with Woody Guthrie. Granted Dylan did know the Guthrie well, but he also lied constantly about his past to reporters and biographers.
So why tolerate Dylan and not Esteban? I’ll spare you the old low brow is high brow, irony-laced “Esteban really is cool” bit. But there is something I truly like about him. It’s the same thing I like about weird Dylan. They invented characters. Their myths are bigger than their actual personalities. In Dylan’s case he invented masks to wear, he became different people throughout the years and is still at it. Esteban, on the other hand, is just trying to sell a few guitars and dazzle his audiences at the Hyatt. But they are both sweet loveable weirdos. In closing I give you a video of these two people playing Bob Dylan’s “Blowing in the Wind,” Esteban-style. Enjoy.