Mudcat Café message #1333653 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #75651   Message #1333653
Posted By: GUEST
20-Nov-04 - 12:17 PM
Thread Name: Dylan: Rock Legend, Maybe Folk Legend?
Subject: RE: Dylan: Rock Legend, Maybe Folk Legend?
I know I'm going to sound cynical, but The Bob has had plenty of time to think about what he wanted to say in The Bob Chronicles. Considering the folk music arena is where he was most vociferously criticized for selling out (well, at least until the Victoria's Secrets commercial), it doesn't surprise me that he would speak affectionately and even authoritatively about folk music.

That said, I'm guessing Dylan picked up most of what he learned about songwriting from folk music and the folk musicians he learned from at the time of the 609s folk revivals in American, British, and Irish music. The folk traditions make for pretty good songwriting teachers, and the rest I put down to The Bob's natural gift and talent for lyric writing. The Bob's tunes are much less impressive than the lyrics. Which is why I put him on the second rung of songwriting greatness, rather than the top.

And finally, I appreciate that Dylan was the be all and end all for some people who value his type of song above all others. But that is hardly universal. I think it's pretty safe to say, most people on the planet would rather hear a catchy Beatles song than the best that Dylan has to offer. His kind of music, at it's best, is an acquired taste. Most people want music to speak to their hearts and their feet, ie to emotions put to rhythm so's they can dance to it.    You never see too many people dancing to Dylan, do ya?

Dylan is the undisputed master of a certain kind of intellectual song, a certain kind of music that appeals to educated Westerners. But his music just doesn't have the universal appeal of the Beatles. That is how I measure true greatness in songwriting ability: the reach of the song itself in terms of appeal, and it's reach through time, which makes it a classic down through the generations. There is a reason why "I Only Have Eyes For You" appeals down through the ages, even though it was written in the early 30s. How many Dylan songs will still be hits for the artists who cover them 50-75 years from now? My guess is, not a whole lot of them. A few, but not many. But there will be a huge slew of Lennon/McCartney tunes that will be covered and made hits anew.