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Friday thoughts: A hard rain is gonna fall

November 27, 2010

If you had $50 burning a hole in your pocket, you, too, could have seen Bob Dylan bulldoze his way through a 16-song setlist at the Tsongas Center last Sunday.

Some friends of ours that attended, and they were not and are not devotees, openly groused about the show. He doesn’t talk to the audience. He just plays his songs, almost joylessly at times, and gets the hell off the stage. His voice was never good, but it’s in particularly rough shape now. Gone is the nasally and oft-mocked singing style of the ’60s and ’70s, it having been replaced by a gravelly growl sometime in the mid-’90s because, well, Dylan’s 69 years old.

But Dylan fans found it to be a perfectly great show, as the legendary songwriter seemed oddly spirited after what was reportedly a rather dour performance out at Amherst a few days prior (and who can blame him?).

Those who think they’ll hear Blowin’ in the Wind as they heard it on the Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan 47 years ago are going to leave disappointed. Those who know what to expect these days will have an entirely different experience.

And therein lies the problem with this hockey team as well.

The most common complaint for those attending their first Bob Dylan concert is that he doesn’t talk to the audience very much, if at all. But what would they have him do? Saying, “Hey Lowell how are you tonight? I can’t hear you!” seems, frankly, beneath an artist of his towering stature, and explaining, “I wrote this next song after my first wife and I separated, it’s from the album Blood on the Tracks, and it’s called ‘If You See Her, Say Hello,'” is basically a waste of everyone’s time.

Dylan enters into his shows with the presupposition that you’re quite familiar with his songs, given that they’ve been memorized, analyzed and talked about by fans for longer than most in attendance have been alive. There are no surprises at Bob Dylan shows these days.

And why would anyone expect any different from Lowell games? Do fans somehow enter into them with the expectation that they might see this team unearth a previously unknown talent for dominating games, or that either Doug Carr or Marc Boulanger will suddenly become the next Patrick Roy just because they’re playing a lower-midtable WCHA team?

Here’s a fun fact. Lowell has zero drafted players on its roster. Mankato has more than that. And many of their players are of higher quality, in general, than Lowell’s because they’re in the WCHA, and the WCHA tends to attract more higher-shelf talent than does Hockey East. So yes, a team that is ninth in that strong western league will beat a team that is dead last in the power of the East.

Now, you might well take issue with the way in which they did so. Outscoring Lowell 7-1 in the final 39 minutes of the game sure is ugly, but how can anyone expect anything less at this point? This team has been spiraling into a seriously deep hole since the disheartening 2-1 loss against UNH. It was indeed a pitiful performance last night, and everything after Maury Edwards’ wonderful little goal served to simply stack horror on top of horror.

Perhaps we’ve seen the team hit rock bottom. Perhaps we haven’t. But if the latter is the case, one has to wonder just how deep the cavernous pit goes.

Lowell positively got bossed around by a team with which many people expected it to be competitive. However, true connoisseurs have long since come to expect that they won’t be seeing Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again as it was originally recorded.

And those times? They aren’t a’changing any time soon.

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