In the slew of also-ran movies released during the cinematic abyss of February this year, you might have missed Drive Angry, a nu-metal and semen-drenched muscle-car flick starring Nic Cage as a leather-jacket-clad badass named John Milton who (wait for it) escapes from Hell to save his granddaughter from some kind of cult. And if you did, that's too bad, because Drive Angry was fucking awesome.
A cursory glance at Nic Cage's filmography reveals almost nothing to suggest that Cage is the recipient of two Academy Awards. Indeed, he took Best Actor for his work in Leaving Las Vegas and Adaptation — but those two excellent films are hardly the reason Nic Cage is one of my favorite actors; I love Nic Cage because almost everything else he's done has been absolute crap. Over the course of more than seventy movies, Cage has done no more than ten that were objectively worth seeing; his catalogue of work is utterly devoid of integrity — but that also means that it's without pretension, and there's something great about that, because Nic Cage is awesome in every one of those turds. No matter how odious the role, Nic Cage will hurl himself at it with the same unhinged glee with which he hurls himself at everything else.
What I'm trying to say is, Nic Cage is the Bob Dylan of actors.
Like Cage's, Dylan's oeuvre also reveals a ridiculous degree of output — some seventy albums, including concerts and compilations — a large portion of which is crap. There's a lot of greatness in there (Highway 61 Revisited, Blood on the Tracks, Blonde on Blonde), but volume-wise, the majority comprises forgettable turds like Street Legal, Shot of Love and Knocked Out Loaded. Still, no matter how inessential, hastily assembled or destitute of purpose, they all, just by virtue of Dylan being Dylan, have something — maybe even just a couple of lyrics — worthwhile. And while his output has improved somewhat in consistency since the late '90s, let's not forget his Christmas album from just two years ago, which yielded possibly my favorite quote about Dylan ever, from NPR critic Ken Tucker: "He makes 'I'll Be Home for Christmas' sound more like a threat than a promise."
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Bob Dylan has no integrity.
Which is why it should be no surprise whatsoever that he's loaning out his material to some of today's more loathsome pop stars for a tribute called Chimes of Freedom: Songs of Bob Dylan Honoring 50 Years of Amnesty International. I'm electing to ignore that it's for a good cause.
Because make no mistake: This album will be fucking atrocious. All you really need to do is try to imagine Ke$ha rendering "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" or Miley Cyrus rendering any Dylan song (she hasn't announced which one she'll do yet) to know that it would be absolute sacrilege if there were anything sacred about Dylan. So it's a good thing there isn't. Dylan doesn't give a shit about being sacred, and there's something great about that. Something audacious. Something, I daresay, admirable.
Because it takes a great artist to make great art, but it takes a heroic one to repeatedly shit all over it.