Cornel Bogdan has been a super fan for decades
Thursday, November 8, 2018
By GUY D’ASTOLFO
There are Bob Dylan fans. And then there is Cornel Bogdan.
The Youngstown radio-TV personality has seen Dylan in concert 126 times. On Tuesday, Bogdan will be at Covelli Centre for No. 127.
The host of “Tangled Up in Blues,” a weekly radio show on WNCD-93.3 FM The Wolf (which he named after a Dylan song), Bogdan has seen the artist in all of his phases and in just about every state.
“I have a serious Dylan addiction,” he said.
Who: Bob Dylan and his band
When: Tuesday at 8 p.m.
Where: Covelli Centre
Tickets: $59.50, $79.50 and $119.50 (fees may apply) at ticketmaster.com, 800-745-3000 and the Covelli box office
As the legendary artist’s return to Covelli draws near (he last played the venue in 2012), The Vindicator asked several area musicians and music-industry insiders – each a longtime Dylan fan – to share their thoughts.
Most of them have seen Dylan dozens of times but none comes close to Bogdan.
His first time was Oct. 20, 1978, at the long-gone Richfield Coliseum. Since then, he has made forays in every direction for Dylan concerts.
How far has he traveled for a show?
“I haven’t seen him in Hawaii or Alaska but I’ve covered pretty much all of the states,” said Bogdan. “My poor wife... Our vacation would be Indiana, and then Tennessee, just following Dylan around. But I know there will be folks around me at the Youngstown concert against whom I will be like a kindergartner. They’ll say ‘I just got back from the whole England tour’.”
Even casual fans know that change has been a constant throughout Dylan’s long career, as he embraced different genres: folk, electric folk, gospel, blues. The constantly touring artist also has a long history of changing the arrangement and delivery of even his biggest hits.
Bogdan has witnessed it all.
“I went to see him through every vocal change,” he said, explaining that Dylan has five or six different voices.
“How he sings ‘Lay Lady Lay’ was his Nashville voice,” said Bogdan. “Now he is in his bluesman voice. He’s following along the lines of Muddy Waters or Howlin’ Wolf. I consider Dylan a bluesman, because he is constantly on the road, playing smaller places, and there is a growl to his music.”
Bogdan has also heard the grumbling from some concertgoers who are disappointed in how Dylan changes his tunes in concert, often to the point of being unrecognizable.
“What irks me is when people say ‘it’s different than how it sounds on the album,” said Bogdan. “People like Dylan, Neil Young, John Mellencamp, they don’t want to be known as oldies acts. They don’t want to be REO Speedwagon. They are still releasing some of the finest music, even if there is no one playing it. But I love the way Dylan explores his own music. I think that’s what keeps him wanting to continue to play, and it keeps his band really tight. One of my favorite things to do is to watch his band. They never take their eyes off of him because they never know how he is going to change up a song.”
As far as Dylan’s influence on pop music, Bogdan said it can’t be underestimated.
The Beatles moved into longer and more complex pieces after speaking with Dylan, and countless rock acts have covered Dylan songs.
A Dylan an for more than four decades, Bogdan doesn’t hesitate when asked what caught his ear in the first place.
“It was the lyrics and the phrasing,” he said. “He’s also the main reason I got into the blues. His first couple of records, he was covering old blues classics.”
Of all of the Dylan concerts Bogdan has seen, one stands out: the 30th anniversary show dubbed “Bobfest” that took place in 1992 at Madison Square Garden in New York. An incredible lineup of musicians took part in the show, which paid homage to Dylan, including George Harrison, Lou Reed, John Mellencamp, Neil Young, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Eddie Vedder, Johnny Winter, Eric Clapton, Tom Petty, George Thorogodd and The Band.
“There has never been anything like that assemblage of talent,” said Bogdan, “and then Dylan came out and jammed with them.”
Bogdan also recalled seeing Dylan twice in one night at the now-defunct Sands Casino in Atlantic City, N.J.: an acoustic set in the early evening, and then an electric set a few hours later.
Given that the 77-year-old Dylan has been on the road nearly non-stop for the past 30 years, Bogdan expects to see him a few more times in the future.
“There hasn’t been a year since 1988 that he has taken off from touring,” said Bogdan. “You’re never going to hear that ‘this is my final tour’ bit from him. He’ll never stop. He’ll just fade away.”