After seeing Springsteen last fall and Dylan this spring, I've noticed an odd trend: long-time fans of these two esteemed members of the American Academy of Arts and Letters are bringing their offspring to shows to gawk at these men before they join the Choir Invisible.
Springsteen, bless his heart, has recognized this phenomenon and has embraced it. Each evening you'll find Bruce carrying junior Tramps around in his arms on stage to overwhelming approval of the crowd. One lucky youngster gets the full treatment from Uncle Bruce. Bruce, from my observation of this spectacle, seems more delighted than the young scamp he's baptising; the youngster, generally speaking, seems perplexed and maybe slightly alarmed. Meanwhile, the child's father's buttons are popping. It is unquestionably a charming, heartwarming thing to witness, but it sucks the life blood out of what was once a rock-ribbed concert, performed by what was arguably the most dominant coalition of rock musicians ever assembled. Today, in light of this sad new concert dynamic, a Springsteen show is a misty nostalgic mix of fist-waving anthems, musical frolic, and immense fun. Let's be clear on this point: a Springsteen show is still a lot of fun.
Dylan, meanwhile, does not even bother to so much as acknowledge your presence at his show--even going so far as to light the stage so that you can barely suss him. There's little hope of your child, even a musically advanced one, identifying Dylan. (Kid, he's the one wearing spats and looks like a fashion-forward Albert Einstein). It is more likely that the devil himself will lift your child on to the canvass where Dylan creates his art. Dylan isn't going to touch or acknowledge anyone--his band mates included--during the performance. He is not there to warm the cockles of your heart or stir fond memories of your lost youth. No, he's there to perform great art for your entertainment, enlightenment, and edification. And to do so with Euclidian precision.
The different approaches these men have taken to the strange proclivity of their audiences to bring their gawking progeny to concerts is as stark as the difference between drinking a piña colada or Lagavulin.
These days, I lean toward the Lagavulin, served neat, please.