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Does Bob Dylan Still Matter?

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(Photo Credit: @alextremtrem)

This summer, Rolling Stone named Bob Dylan the greatest songwriter of all time, but he hasn’t had a new song on the radio since 1990. His new albums continue to sell to the faithful, but many people find his voice unlistenable.

So, we hosted a panel to discuss why Dylan still matters and analyze some of his specific songs. The panel was moderated by Jon Bream, Minneapolis Star Tribune music critic and author of the new bookDylan: Disc by Disc, and featured renowned singer-songwriter Suzanne Vega, Rolling Stone contributing editor and author Anthony DeCurtis, and WNYC personality and author John Schaefer.

ABOUT DYLAN: DISC BY DISC
In his acclaimed new Dylan: Disc by Disc, Bream moderated discussions between two experts about each of Bob Dylan’s 36 studio albums. The 55 commentators include critics, professors who teach classes about Dylan and such musical figures as Questlove of the Roots, Ric Ocasek of the Cars, Rodney Crowell, Jason Isbell, Joe Henry, Jonatha Brooke and Tony Glover. Suzanne Vega, Anthony DeCurtis and John Schafer are among the commentators. 

Since the release of her self-titled, critically acclaimed 1985 debut album, SUZANNE VEGA has sold more than 7 million albums, performed in sold-out concert halls around the world and been nominated for seven Grammys. Her latest album is Songs From The Realm of the Queen of Pentacles, which the Boston Globe called a "marvel of intelligent lyrics and folkish experimental textures." She lives in New York City.

ANTHONY DECURTIS is a contributing editor for Rolling Stone, where his work has appeared for nearly thirty-five years, and a distinguished lecturer in the creative writing program at the University of Pennsylvania. He co-authored Clive Davis' autobiography, The Soundtrack of My Life (2013), a New York Times best-seller. In addition he has published two collections of his work: Rocking My Life Away: Writing About Music and Other Matters’ and In Other Words: Artists Talk About Life and Work. He holds a Ph.D. in American literature, and he won a Grammy Award for best album notes for his essay accompanying the Eric Clapton box set, Crossroads. He is currently writing a biography of Lou Reed for Little, Brown.

JOHN SCHAEFER is the host of New York public radio WNYC’s innovative music/talk show Soundcheck, which features live performances and interviews with a variety of guests. He has also hosted and produced WNYC’s radio series New Sounds since 1982 (“The #1 radio show for the Global Village” – Billboard) and the New Sounds Live concert series since 1986. Schaefer has written extensively about music, including the book New Sounds: A Listener’s Guide to New Music (1987, 1990); The Cambridge Companion to Singing: World Music (2000); and the TV program Bravo Profile: Bobby McFerrin (Bravo, 2003).

JON BREAM is the longest tenured fulltime pop music critic at a daily newspaper in the United States. In September, he celebrated his 40th anniversary at the Minneapolis Star Tribune. His reviews and features also have been published in many outlets from the Boston Globe and Los Angeles Times to Billboard and Vibe. He is the author of the books Prince: Inside the Purple Reign (1984), Whole Lotta Led Zeppelin (2008, published in seven languages, 2015), Neil Diamond Is Forever (2009) and Dylan: Disc by Disc (2015). He has interviewed Dylan and hung out with the fellow Minnesota native many times.