A Multitude Masterpiece for Your Mind!

A review of Bob Dylan’s Rough and Rowdy Ways by Stein Arne Nistad (10/10)

The assassination of JFK is the first historical event I can remember. A memory characterized by fear. Life, death, and an uncertain future captured in a single event. I can still feel the childish powerlessness. For most people life is a Rough and Rowdy Way.

GB. ENGLAND. Underground nightclub principally for black people in Cable Street, East London. (Cable Street no longer exists). 1964.

Bob Dylan is a personal lifelong inspiration. Many of his songs and quotes are my compass. At work, private and artistic (a Dylan quote inspired my three 2WW novels).

After eight years of silence, Dylan finally releases an album with ten new original songs. My feelings are mixed. Is this album a Sarepta’s jar or a Pandora’s box? However, Dylan´s «Murderers Most Foul» released in March, was almost too good to be true. A song based on the murder of JFK. But Dylan did not only tell this story. During seventeen minutes he guides us on a journey to our entire culture. To our roots. I still remember the feeling the first time I heard the song. I experienced a kind of inexplicably soothingly perfected mood, without fully understanding the depth of the song. Just a feeling. Just a sense of perfect artistic communication. I also remember this feeling from the first time I heard «Sad-eyed lady of the lowlands» forty years ago. A perfect song and melody. I can`t explain why. It´s just the feeling of experiencing great art.

Rough and Rowdy Ways make mee feel. Make me feel perfection. The feeling of a new masterpiece. Stories about life and death, future and past, love and hate – all captured in an album. A manifestation of everything Dylan is. Take Dylan’s explosive creativity in the mid-sixties, add more than fifty years of experience. Then you probably understand what «Rough and Rowdy Ways» is all about. I was so much older then, I am younger than now! It is incomprehensible that an aging man still can reinvent himself. He is still able to create innovative brilliant music and poetry.

This album is a multitude of layers. So many that it is completely meaningless dive into songs and quotes it will take years to fully understand. What is Dylan talking about: Gods or men? Past or future? Hope or hopelessness? He spans a universe so vast and comprehensive that it contains almost everything human life is about. Including death and darkness. It is no coincidence that «The Black Rider» is all over the place.

Musically, it is easier to describe. Or maybe not. Except for three fairly standard blues tunes, Dylan treads new musical paths together with his regular tour band: Charlie Sexton (guitar), Bob Britt (guitar), Donnie Herron (steel guitar, violin, accordion), Tony Garnier (bass) and Matt Chamberlain (drums) ). In addition, a few other musicians are involved.

On the surface the songs and arrangements may seem quiet and simple. That is not at all true! The tunes are an incredibly sophisticated backdrop to Dylan’s recitation and singing. The production is brilliant. The soundscape is spiced with musical details. «Less in more». Diving into this fascinating musical micro-universe is a great experience. The band understands Dylan and transforms this knowledge to the low-key and expressive music this album requires. Dylan’s vocal is stunning, and he utilizes his foremost musical weapons. Timing and phrasing are perfect and beautiful.

Great artists dare to exceed and challenge personal and formal boundaries. On this album Dylan expand his poetic and musical language and delivers a perfect piece of art. Rough and Rowdy Ways is A Multitude Masterpiece for Your Mind!

Stein Arne Nistad

Journalist and Author

This is a brief translation from an Norwegian article by Google translate.

Review: Melancholy Mood, Bob Dylan (Japan Tour «Fallen Angels» promotion EP)

FallenEpThis EP promotes Bob Dylan’s Japan 2016 tour, and contains four new songs. They are all from Dylan’s new album «Fallen Angels» scheduled for release in May.  First of all I have to disappoint those who expect a real new «Bob Dylan» album. The songs on this EP continues Dylan’s «Shadows in the night» Sintara Project and contains four covers.  Dylan is the lead singer in a dense and coherent band.  The band offers sophisticated musical arrangements. A steel guitar, a base and a singel violin replaces the strings and horns sections.

Rumors tell that «Fallen Angels» is from the same recording session as «Shadows in the night». Nevertheless, I feel that Dylan moves in a slightly new direction, judged from the four songs on the EP. They all seems more sophisticated and refined compared to the songs on «Shadows in the night». The band seems to have developed the songs on the road and present themselves as more coherent and safer. The arrangements are subdued and beautiful in its simplicity.

The title track «Melancholy mood» (YouTube) starts with a long guitar intro, which merge into a slow «ball room» version of the song. Dylan’s vocal is at least as good as on “Shadows”. If there is a talk of hoarseness, it is manifested as an underlying rustic feeling not as his ability to sing.

«All or nothing at all» is subdued and simple with Dylan’s voice in the center. The musicians contributes with a beautiful and detailed musical landscape with many musical details.

«Come rain or come shine» opens  with a bass and guitar “string arrangement”. This version is far better than the live version I heard in Oslo in 2015. Dylan’s vocal is magnificent and it is obvious that he respects and is in love with this kind of music.

The last song «That old black magic” stands out on this EP and starts with soft brushes on drums and cymbals. The song has a higher pace and is rhythmic close to perfect. Dylan’s timing is spot on and the result is a song that swings and is hard to resist.

Based on the four songs on this EP «Fallen Angels» is a straight follow up to  «Shadows in the night». We are talking about a new collection of covers. Those of us who liked “Shadows” we will probably love «Fallen Angels». The album seems to be more of the same, albeit in a more developed and aesthetic version. I personally look forward to the «complete» Fallen Angels.

Stein Arne Nistad

This is an automated translation of a Norwegian “Fidelity Magazine” article

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Humanizing Technology

Together with Itera guru Rikard Strand, I was interviewed on technology trends and opportunities for Itera’s annual report. I think some perspectives and thoughts in this interview may be worth checking out. It`s a PDF, so click on the link.


My new book available worldwide!

The age of you

How to understand and benefit from Social media and the connected sosciety?
By Stein Arne Nistad

“The Age of You” is the story about a new society, TheAgeOfYouCoverwhere we break away from the established rules regarding communication, relationships and the way we do business.  It`s also a story about a major shift: we increasingly take control over our personal and commercial relationships. We alone decide who we want to listen to, and how we want to engage ourselves. «The age of You» explains the historical development; concepts and the foundation of networks, relations, social media and the new connected society. By referring to historical events, storytelling, models and case studies, the book is an engaging story about YOU and how to succeed in our connected society.

Available at Authorhouse,  amazon.comBarns&Noble etc.

Preview «The age of you»

Praise for the book:

  • Storytelling in a connected society unlocks the need for new models and approaches. Here, the author gives us a deeper understanding of the challenges ahead and what we need to do to effectively connect with and earn relevance within society. Brian Solis, Principal Analyst at Altimeter Group and the author of “What’s the Future of Business”
  • «The Age of You» is a fresh and intriguing look at the communication revolution. The author’s genuine interest in and understanding of science, including the physics of entropy and astronomy, are applied to a creative analysis of how communications is changing our world. The analysis of how transparent engagement with the market and external audiences also changes an organization internally was particularly valuable. – Gerald Baron, CEO at PIER Systems
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Available at Authorhouse,  amazon.comBarns&Noble etc.

Don`t You Dare Miss «Christmas In the Heart!»

By Stein Arne Nistad

When I first heard about Dylan’s Christmas project, I must admit I thought it was a joke. When it was released, I was ecstatic. A few years later the album is regarded as the ultimate Christmas album. Not by myself, but by my wife and children. They simply love it! And after all, it is easy to understand:

First of all, Christmas In the Heart is not a Dylan original. The fifteen tracks are picked mostly from the American Christmas tradition and include songs like “Here Comes Santa Claus”, “Winter Wonderland”, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” among others. The album gives a kind of Dylan meets Disney, Sinatra and Andrew Sisters feeling. Dylan simply made a Christmas record true to a musical heritage from the forties and fifties – easy to like and easy to love. The choir arrangements remind me of Disney’s “zippi du dua”-song. In fact, I never expected to associate any of Dylan’s work with that kind of music.  It`s like going back, but not all the way …

Still it makes a kind of sense. American Christmas songs and records from that period sounded like that. Dylan sings and arranges them in a way that is true to the songs musical origin. Still the album has a modern touch. Dylan is singing nice and is really into it. His rusty voice filled with patina and age makes a very interesting contrast to the in many ways well known arrangements. Compare Dylan’s album to any other “old men’s Christmas effort” like this year’s Rod Stewart Christmas album. Compared to Rod, Dylan’s is simply more into it. Bobs voice adds a new and sometimes unexpected feeling to the songs. He makes the songs his own and brings them to a new level.  If Santa or Father Christmas has a voice, Dylan is probably the closest we ever get to hear it.

Obviously Dylan had a good time in the studio. It’s a lot of energy in the band and in Dylan’s performances. The record is packed with instruments spanning from accordion, steel guitars to strings, bells and drums. “Must be Santa” is probably the only polka and the most up-tempo song Dylan ever has recorded. The video is another story. It is hilarious and great fun. The band is backed by the four men and three women strong “Mixed Voice Singer”. They do a fantastic job bringing this record sounding like it was recorded back in the fifties. It is easy to recognize an underlying quality in almost every one of the songs. Dylan’s genius comes true and all of the songs on the record grow on everyone lending an ear.

Releasing a Christmas album was in my opinion the most unexpected, weird and surreal thing Dylan ever has done. Some of the songs are pure joy – based on good musical craftsmanship. Some of the songs express a kind of enjoyable madness. Some are wonderful emotional highlights. Some are statements about eternity – and beyond … As Christmas is a mystery – the record works and “Christmas In the Heart” is important in many families Christmas tradition!  “Christmas in the Heart” is an ultimate Dylan holyday masterpiece. It`s not good – it`s fantastic.  The best thing is that my joy is shared by my wife and children. My six year old daughter is just hitting the play again button – over, and over again!

Don`t You Dare to celebrate Christmas without «Christmas In the Heart!»

New book: The age of YOU!

A rough guide to social networks and the connected society

A book by Stein Arne Nistad


I am one of those people who believe that the invention of the Internet in all its simplicity is one of the greatest technical innovations created by mankind. It is hard to imagine how our modern society could function without this global infrastructure, which connects everyone and everything together. And now it is happening again. Many talk of social media as a new, major revolution, more important than many previous historical events. Fortunately history itself has a way of defining what is right, wrong, important and unimportant. The fact is that the new social media change society radically and fundamentally in many areas. As Internet guru Clay Shirky accurately puts it: When we change the way we communicate, society changes. I would add that:
When society changes – everything changes.
Social media change the way we communicate. They change society and break away from established rules about communication, relationships and the way we do business with each other. These media also contribute to power shifts. It is no longer the sender who is in charge, but increasingly each one of us. We can determine which network we want to be a part of, who we communicate with and what we want to receive and share. We are on the threshold of a society where each individual can define their relationship and their own role in a global relationship-based world. And this opens up dizzying perspectives of self organisation, a wide open society and democratisation. When society changes, so do the rules of play: Welcome to the connected society.

About the book

With this book I have tried to provide a simple explanation of social media and the growth of the connected society: what it is, the principles it/they have been founded on and how, by using models and different approaches, we can improve our understanding of their relationships and structures, and exploit the opportunities they bring.

The book is based on popular science and my own experience. It describes knowledge and experience gained from a wide range of social media projects completed for international companies, and an extensive career within IT and communications.

Social media are basically a fusion of technology and communication. They enable relationships and social networks to be established, which means their field of operation is wide. This presents its own set of chalenges within communication, technology, psychology and sociology. In other words, social media comprise a new and exciting specialist field.

This book examines concepts, experiences, challenges and opportunities. The important ethical, psychosocial and legal aspects of social media are covered to a less extent – and have thus been left for others to write about.

About the author

Stein Arne Nistad is a consultant director for the communications agency Itera Gazette. He works with strategic questions and challenges associated with Internet and social media, and have led several major projects in this area. He is and has been a consultant for the Norwegian government, McDonalds, Tetrapak, Spar International, Aker Solutions, Nera, Q-Free etc. He leads Den Norske Dataforeningen's technical group for social media and has published several books, chronicles and numerous articles. He is educated in IT at the University of Oslo, and has 25 years experience as a consultant and manager in the IKT and communications industry.

ISBN 978-82-998754-2-4 (Hardcopy)
ISBN 978-82-998754-3-1 (E-book)
200 pages. Paperback.

The book is due for international release in the first quarter of 2013. However a few digitally printed copies are available for international customers at NOK 350 ($60) including international postage and packaging.

Order The age of you NOK 350 [wp_cart:AgeOfYou:price:350:end]

  • Really interesting. There is a major need for this type of literature. Anne Grethe Solberg, Sociologist and Doctor PH. D.
  • I have read many books on social media, particularly in the last year, where I have read almost everything about the subject. This is by far the best book on social media. Inger Line Skjerve, Master student, BI :
  • Brilliant! Impressed that it is possible to write so much about relationships without it being nonsense. Cathrine Grimstad, Community Manager Visma



Bob Dylan’s Tempest: A storm in your mind.

Bob Dylan turns 72 next year. It is fifty years since he released his first album. He was a legend at the age of 25. If his career had ended by Blonde On Blonde (1966) – he would still have been one of rock history's greatest artists.

In 2012 Dylan is still going strong. He is painting, writing and touring. And he is still recording. The quality of his later albums has been remarkable. Time Out Of Mind (1997) was a masterpiece, like Love & Theft (2001) and Modern Times (2006). Together through Life (2009) did not quite meet the same sky-high standard.

Now it's about "Tempest". The album has such power and is so energetic that it's hard to belive that the album is released by an "older" gentleman. Tempest consist of ten tracks and lasts 68 minutes. No bad tracks. The question is rather how many of them will gain the true Dylan classics status. Tempest provides a complex and a almost complete concept. The impulses cover the musical landscape Dylan has been exploring over the last decades.

"Scarlet Town" and "Tin Angel" stands out as instant Bob Dylan Classics. The first one reminds me of “Man in the Long Black Coat” from Oh Mercy 1989. “Tin Angel” is a dark and gloomy story – a real “murder ballad”. Musically “Tin Angel” is a sister or brother of the Modern Times highlight “Ain't Talkin'” – but without a chorus. Dylan is also crossing his own paths in "Long and Wasted Years". In form and narrative it is a relative to "Brownsville Girl” from the otherwise quite bad album “Knocked Out Loaded” 1986.

Musically, Dylan gets new inspiration from everywhere, like Hawaii, Irish music, traditional songs, blues, rock and folk. However, this styles and inspirations are transformed through Dylan catalyst. He restores, renews and recreates. Some of the songs on the album have a basic structure reminding me of Ravels Bolero. A simple theme and melody is repeated to form a rhythmical and musical foundation that Dylan can play with and within

“Pay it in Blood” is fresh and unexpected. It is an amazing rocker – with breathtaking changes and breaks. Tough, rough and the essence of what Rock music is all about. The song might as well have been signed Stones (they should really adopt it and make a cover immediately).

The production is unmistakably "Jack Frost" (Bob Dylan). It is rather rough – but when you listen carefully it`s obvious that Dylan is in full control – down to every detail. The sound feels live. Dylan and the musicians' presence is coming through. Any over dubbings are hard to detect. Most of the tracks feel like live recordings with the band in the studio – even though this is hardly the truth. The production has an unusual presence that captures, captivates and engages – and drags us into this fascinating musical journey.

Tempest is a rather dark album about betrayal, death and destruction. Dylan is not primarily the philosopher – but rather a storyteller with finesse and power. Again, "Tin Angel" immediately makes the strongest impression. It is a story full of betrayal, pain and death. Dylan is telling the story so grim, dark and deadly accurate that we can literally see the both blood spatter and feel the dark.

The musician’s is Dylan's regular touring band. For the occasion Los Lobos David Hidalgo joins the band. Using the touring band is a wise choice. Tempest benefits from a group of musicians that has gained a form of musical safety and creative understanding. The band creates a unified musical foundation, including space for musical playfulness and some improvisation. Tempest stems from years of concerts and musical renewal. That is why "Tempest" seems to be designed for live performances.

Over the last years it has been debated whether Dylan's voice is worn out and that he should give in. Tempest should bring this discussion to an end. Dylan's voice is like a sand paper or an old table with tears, wounds and a wonderful patina. He is not spanning the same range as in his early years, but it doesn`t matter. No one sings like Dylan. On "Tempest" Dylan sings like you've never heard him before. He is using his aging voice too express himself with a presence, creativity and vitality that makes age and voice complete irrelevant. Dylan manages to challenge himself and create new musical universes and stories.

Dylan`s Tempest might be one of his best albums ever. Top ten, top five – who knows and cares,. It is a privilege to meet a storm like this. Dylan is still the most important and most powerful. Whatever scale – Tempest deserves the full score. It is probably one of the best albums released in this century's so far! Tempest is simply going to be a storm in your mind.


Track list:
"Duquesne Whistle"
"Soon After Midnight"
"Narrow Way"
"Pay in Blood"
"Scarlet Town"
"Early Roman Kings"
"Tin Angel"
"Roll on John"

Stein Arne Nistad,
Norwegian Fidelity 58.

The text is automaticly translated from Norwegian to English by Google translate.

The brand new Elvis album: "Viva Elvis"

I never thought I was going to review a brand new Elvis release. Elvis was dead long before I started writing about music. The record industry cross every border. Time and space is not a limitation. The Viva Elvis is a kind of «what if» project. Someone has been toying with the idea of how a brand new Elvis album would have sounded if it had been recorded today.

Three months after Elvis could have celebrated his 75th anniversary a new album is on its way. The producer and the musicians have isolated Elvis vocal from old tapes. The vocal is then used as the basis for new and creative musical arrangements. The old songs are adapted to our modern musical language. We are talking about a pretty fundamental remake. The result is exciting. Elvis appears, despite his physical absence, as a very vital artist in 2010. The arrangements remind me of U2 with a new vocalist. The essence is floating guitars, lots of punch and a heavy and dynamic rhythmic foundation. The sound is also much more compact than the original Elvis Presley recordings. “Viva Elvis” feels like 100 percent 2010. And it is a very good 2010 production.

The album fully demonstrates Elvis excellent vocal. The strength and dynamics fully documents how timeless his expression is. Songs like “Blue Sued Shoes”, “King Creole”, “Love Me Tender” and most of the other songs on this album is already a part of the musical world heritage. The new versions are adding a new perspective. They are catchy and dynamic. The talented musicians and the brave producer have created one of the best remake retro albums t I can remember. The musicians have defined a clear distance to the original songs. Therefore they have managed to create a whole new sound. A good example is the remake of «Can` t help falling in love «. The new version is a beautiful duet. We’re talking about a great version with significant hit potential. In a facinating way «Viva Elvis» is true to Elvis heritage but also to our time. I can however understand that hardcore fan see this project as grave robbery. But I disagree. These old songs, Elvis’ amazing vocals and the new arrangements works together. The album has good sound and is well produced. Therefore «Viva Elvis» is a good and worthy album in my opinion.

Translated from Norwegian