It's no small feat to decode the lyrics of Don McLean's "American Pie," but most critics I've read believe "the jester" in verse three is a reference to Bob Dylan. That's the character, of course, who sings "in a coat he borrowed from James Dean/and a voice that came from you and me."
Dylan is coming to the Orange County Fair this month, and if accounts of his recent live shows are an indication, I'm sad to say that the voice ringing from the speakers won't sound much like yours or mine. Whether because of cigarettes, age or just overuse, the nasal growl that gave us "Like a Rolling Stone," "It's Alright, Ma" and so many others has faded to barely a wisp of its former self.
The media, despite Dylan's status as a cultural icon, hasn't been shy about covering his vocal deficiencies. Previewing this year's fair, the OC Weekly wrote that Dylan "has, in each live performance we've seen in the past 10 years, rendered every awesome song of his in gibberish." About the same time, the Press-Telegram ran a story with the headline "Legendary musician Bob Dylan to 'sing' at fair." Note the quotes.