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bob dylan
Last Post 25 Mar 2005 08:23 AM by aidan. 35 Replies.
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aidanUser is Offline
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Aidan Curran

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25 Mar 2005 08:23 AM
    .... is an over-rated, only-mildly-talented songwriter. his lyrics are terrible (his lyrics are pretentious and try too hard to be poetry) and as a book-lover it makes me laugh AND cry that he always seems to be rumoured to be up for the nobel prize for literature (joni mitchell wipes the floor with him lyric-wise: now SHE'S a 'poet' if any singer-songer is). his voice is weak, his musicianship nothing special - songs without melodies. he has been mythologised to a ridiculous and unjustified extreme. his influence has ruined modern lyric writing: nonsense and deliberate vagueness have replaced creative or witty word-play, evocative imagery and direct, forceful, passionate opinions; compare the bertie ahern-like vagueness of a supposed protest song like 'blowing in the wind' with hard-hitting, REALLY heartfelt protest like 'inner city blues' by marvin gaye or anything by ewan mccoll, steve earle, billy bragg (not preaching, just expressing ideas in a thoughtful and sometimes humorous way). only 'hurricane' comes near to justifiying his supposed reputation as a politically-aware writer. his tunes are rambling, tuneless and unremarkable. he is influential because he offers a cop-out to lazy singer-songers: no need to work on your lyrics or melodies, just create a cult of personality and be deliberately obscure in your writing (and then say things like 'well, you can interpret it however you want...'). ah! that felt good
    BinokularUser is Offline
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    Binokular

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    25 Mar 2005 09:20 AM
    Aidan, I agree with most of what you said up to a point. However I had a similar conversation about how I felt Dylan was overrated with a friend of mine recently. His response was that while he agreed that dylan wasn't great musically, he is influential because he was one of the first people to write pop music that had lyrics about something a little deeper than the typical sugary sweeet 1950s style pop songs that said nothing more than "ooh, baby I love you" (or in rare cases if you wanted to be a bit more sombre, tragic tales of a girl who professes her undying love to a young man who then goes off and gets killed in a motorcycle accident. How come no-one writes songs about cool stuff like that any more? ). Anyway, basically what he was saying is that Dylan writing about slightly deeper and darker matters influenced others like Jim Morrison and Lou Reed to start writing about stuf that wasn't normaly covered in pop music. Of course other people had written songs about serious stuff before, centuries before Woody Guthrie even, but Dylan was among the first realatively well known pop musicians to do it, which despite the folk pretense is pretty much what he was. (Of course then again this was the 60s and the defintion of pop music was a little looser than it is now) Anyway, I'm not sure I totally agree with him, but I thought it was interesting view of things all the same.
    Bez Light yearUser is Offline
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    Bez Light year

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    25 Mar 2005 01:45 PM
    tHERES NOTHING YOU CAN say to someone who reckons Bob dylan is only a mildly talented songwriter except would you go and s**te
    GarUser is Offline
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    Gar

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    25 Mar 2005 03:18 PM
    Are you talking about the same person? Bob Dylan? Robert Zimmerman? Nah, it can't be the same artist you are on about....
    DaraghUser is Offline
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    Daragh Murray

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    25 Mar 2005 03:23 PM
    Dylan is one of the greats, truly
    adminUser is Offline
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    Administrator Account

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    25 Mar 2005 03:50 PM
    Just wait until 'The_Thin_Man' drops in on this thread...
    emuUser is Offline
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    emu

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    25 Mar 2005 04:16 PM
    pack of w**kers i am finished with this message board. you cant slag keane but you can rip into bob dylan without causing any major disturbance . hfjk;hdsjk;hfjk;s again
    dope fiendUser is Offline
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    dope fiend

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    25 Mar 2005 04:17 PM
    and i am not the same person but that goes for me too goodbye. until then
    emuUser is Offline
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    emu

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    25 Mar 2005 11:41 PM
    sorry last person was dopefiend who was on this computer. i cant believe you just said all that s**t about hype and all that . who creates the hype if not the fans i believe that the artist is never actually involved in the hype . and even though i may not think bob dylan is that good he definitely is one of the best and most influential artist of the last two centurys . this thread should be blocked as slander . moderators remember that crap u where going on about months ago.
    BinokularUser is Offline
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    Binokular

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    26 Mar 2005 08:27 AM
    This thread won't be locked as there is a marked difference between informed criticism (e.g reasonable questioning and reasessment of the cultural importance of an artist) and childish name calling (simply stating that someone is a w**ker).
    MarkOUser is Offline
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    MarkO

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    26 Mar 2005 08:48 AM
    I have a few of his albums and while some have had only 1 or 2 listens, 'Blood On The Tracks' is a regular. That album alone shows his talent.
    aidanUser is Offline
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    Aidan Curran

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    26 Mar 2005 06:53 PM
    apart from binokular's point, none of you are even TRYING to explain to me why he should be so venerated and worshipped!! come on!! what do you all see in him?
    ArchieUser is Offline
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    Anna Murray

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    27 Mar 2005 08:05 AM
    Aidan's right, he posted a valid criticism of Bob Dylan, and nobody has yet tried to defend him in the same way. I agree with him entirely, except perhaps not so strongly, I mean there are a lot worse than him out there we are/could be considering legends. It's about time somebody was honest in their opinion about the man instead of just liking him because of that legendary status.
    DaraghUser is Offline
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    Daragh Murray

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    27 Mar 2005 09:03 AM
    Ok, in terms of influence, i think i need only one example to refute aidan, and that was his influence on Lennon and McCartney. He encouraged them to go beyond writing bland (if very catchy) pop tunes, and delve into new areas. Starting with Rubber Soul and going on from there, and we can safely say that changed the face of modern music. Also there was that rather fetching railroad workers hat...! In terms of political tunes, he also had "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carrol" the excellent "Masters of War" and the unique "Hard Rains a Gonna Fall" to name but three. Lyrics wise i'm a big fan, two of my favourites being from the "Blood On The Tracks" album, "Simple Twist of Fate" and "You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go", but there are countless more examples of his lyrical genius. Actually a good one is the beautiful simplicity of "I Want You" which also has a lovely melody. I dont think he created a "cult of personality" but rather that it was created for him, the "spokesperson of a generation" tag never sat easy with him, and indeed he tried to get away from it on numerous occasions. And if we need further proof was he not revered by Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez, indeed the whole spectrum of 60s songwriters?
    GarUser is Offline
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    Gar

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    28 Mar 2005 12:17 PM
    One of the main concerns I have about Aidan's original post was the poetry referrance - 'his lyrics try too hard to be poetry'. A masterful songsmith, like Dylan, doesn't ever try to write in poetic form, they just do. Poetry is not all rhyming, hidden meanings, fancy phrases.... poetry is the most expressive form of writing there ever has been. Yes I do agree that Joni Mitchell is a superb songwriter, poet is you must, but so is Dylan. And if you have ever read anything concerning the infamous 'Rolling Thunder' tour, you will be enlightened of Mitchell's respect for Dylan and vice versa. But if we are going to compare Dylan's lyrics with that of poetry, then we must trawl through his huge catelogue and pick out specific songs that try to be poetic....I'm sure for every one you come up with, there will be two more to prove your point wrong. The best songwriters write alot of their songs like poems and Dylan is no exception to that. 'His voice is weak' - again I would disagree with this point. It is obvious that he does not contain the powerful punch of Van Morrison, the distincive pitch of John Lennon or the southern growl of Chris Rea but he does have a diversity to his vocal capabilties. This diversity allows him to mend his vocals around the particular tone that the song searches for. From his country tinged 'To Be Alone With You' (from Nashville Skyline) to the lonesome aching of 'Baby Stop Crying' (from Street Legal) to the croaky tether of 'Tweedle Dum & Tweedle Dee' (from Love & Theft), the diversity in Dylan's vocals strikes with efficaious results on the majority of his songs. Yes, his voice has changed considerably over the years but it really suits the type of songs that he is writing lately, which also displays his genius in recognising that he must alter his vocals, songwriting, involvement of different instruments etc in order to keep his sound fresh. You mentioned that 'only 'hurricane' comes near to justifiying his supposed reputation as a politically-aware writer'. To that I would ask what about the Soldier mini story of being the proud hero before he goes to battle and returning as a decaptiated mess (John Brown from MTV Unplugged), the trembling honesty of a truly important outspoken comedian (Lenny Bruce from Shot Of Love), the insightful overview of political cultures (The Times They Are A-Changing from The Times They A-Changing), the satricial thought-piece (Talkin World War III from The Bootleg Series Vol 6: Live 1964) aswell as the one's that Daragh mentioned. During his early career he was a very politically aware songwriter but as soon as he started to be labelled as a protest singer he changed his songwriting style. One of the things that showcases the true genius of Dylan is his flirtitation of different genres from the almost disco 'Empire Burlesque' to the bluesy outing of 'Oh Mercy' to the acid/hippie rock of 'Dylan & The Dead'. You said 'nonsense and deliberate vagueness have replaced creative or witty word-play', my answer to that would be to listen to the 'Blood On The Tracks' album. That album alone would dispel your argument. Not one corner of it is vague, instead it binds together ten beautifully structured, inspirationally creative songs that are crammed with various instruments, superb singing, pleasant melodies and exquisite lyrics. A classic Dylan album but more importantly, one of the best albums ever to be recorded in the history of music. There is not one artist who has stayed consistently brilliant, inadvertently original and awe inspiring throughout the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and 00s, other than Bob Dylan. Think of a truly great songwriter from the 60s onwards who doesn't acknowledge his talent or hasn't been influenced by his music. No matter what persona the media have given him over the years, Dylan has always produced music that Woddy Guthrie started and many others have tried to master but couldn't for the amount of time that he has. Granted he is not the best novelist, but he is the best songwriter ever - I'm sure even Paul McCartney would agree on that one. He has kept releasing albums through the years and is constantly touring which proves that he doesn't neglect his thrist for having his music out there to the mass public. Is it any wonder that so many other musicians have covered his songs or hundreds of songwriters have attempted to capture the magic that he displays on every album he has released? His icon status is deserved and nowhere near over-rated.
    DaraghUser is Offline
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    Daragh Murray

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    28 Mar 2005 12:31 PM
    very well put
    ArchieUser is Offline
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    Anna Murray

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    28 Mar 2005 04:23 PM
    Well put indeed!
    Rev JulesUser is Offline
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    Rev Jules

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    28 Mar 2005 10:40 PM
    quote:
    Originally posted by aidan
    his influence has ruined modern lyric writing: nonsense and deliberate vagueness have replaced creative or witty word-play, evocative imagery and direct, forceful, passionate opinions; compare the bertie ahern-like vagueness of a supposed protest song like 'blowing in the wind' with hard-hitting, REALLY heartfelt protest like 'inner city blues' by marvin gaye or anything by ewan mccoll, steve earle, billy bragg (not preaching, just expressing ideas in a thoughtful and sometimes humorous way)...no need to work on your lyrics or melodies, just create a cult of personality and be deliberately obscure in your writing
    Aidan, I would just point out that both Steve Earle (who covered 'My Back Pages') and Billy Bragg (who performed 'The Times They Are A Changin' on the BBC's 'The Nation's Lyrics) owe a major debt to Dylan in terms of his influence in both the political and artistic songwriting arenas and would be proactive in acknowledging that debt. Marvin Gaye released a version of 'Blowing In The Wind' in 1966. With regard to McColl, he was from a previous generation of politically aware folk musicians such as Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie to whom Dylan himself owed a debt but from whom he moved on stylistically, innovating as he went. Today, McColl is essentially unknown beyond a hardcore, folk fan base situated primarily in England whils't Dylan's influence and fame is global in its reach and spans all genres of music fandom. With regard to the point that Dylan's fame comes down to a cult of personality, he first came to prominence not as a performer but as a songwriter when 'Blowing In The Wind' became a massive summer pop hit for Peter, Paul and Mary in 1963.
    mutchUser is Offline
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    mutch

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    29 Mar 2005 08:53 AM
    Aidan, if the above excellent replies dont convince you, then at least consider that within the context of the world at the time, he was pretty remarkable. Cool thread though, fair play!
    aidanUser is Offline
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    Aidan Curran

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    29 Mar 2005 08:58 AM
    gar, jules, good points but I still am not convinced. I listened to the live CD of the rolling thunder revue a couple of times over the weekend and I still heard an only-alright singer-songer wheezing and whining through ordinary songs with pretentious lyrics: 'alone on the beach/except for some kelp' (and the inevitable rhyme with 'help') from 'sarah' is just brian mcfadden-esque! and while no one expects him to be sinatra or scott walker, to me he has no feeling or emotion in his voice. I AGREE that dylan IS hugely influential: that's why I despair - I think his influence has done more harm than good. in my op-ed on the irish music scene I criticised the wave of self-satisfied acoustic singer-songers who I feel draw on his influence and style of writing and playing. internationally, people like rufus wainwright (who may adore dylan for all I know) and stephin merrit are returning to the values of well-crafted melodies, hooks and choruses, witty and articulate lyrics... the major formative influence on the beatles was probably buddy holly. this hardly means that buddy holly is 'better' or even on a par with lennon-mccartney. your point re: dylan developing on pete seeger/woody guthrie's tradition is a valid one: the irish acts I've criticised in the past are simply content to replicate dylan and not build on what they love in him - I feel its because dylan's style offers a cop-out where an artist can just drone non-melodies, mumble incoherently, write gibberish and get away with being 'authentic': as you can probably guess, I'm not a damien rice fan either - 'stones taught me to fly' and all that.... damien rice is for me the classic example of someone wallowing in dylan. (apologies in advance for re-starting the damien rice wars!) the byrds obviously loved dylan: but they built on that, drawing also on the beatles and 12-string folk guitarists, if I'm not mistaken). dylan made a certain genre of music popular and thus more people became more interested in the likes of joni mitchell and the band (both of whom I like, so it's not a question of me not liking the genre)- for this, I gladly thank him for his influence! but that's all. jules, the guy who wrote 'itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow polka-dot bikini' also had a massive summer pop hit and may well have written many others, but he isn't being deified like dylan (unless it was leonard cohen doing a nixer..) :D
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