Mudcat Café message #1334976 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #75651   Message #1334976
Posted By: Little Hawk
22-Nov-04 - 02:16 AM
Thread Name: Dylan: Rock Legend, Maybe Folk Legend?
Subject: RE: Dylan: Rock Legend, Maybe Folk Legend?
GUEST - Yeah, I follow you. I know there's lots of folk music that was dance music too (jigs and reels come to mind), but that's not the genre of folk that I was drawn to. I was attracted to the genre that was lyric-driven and intended to be listened to rather than danced to. First of all, you've got the old English, Scottish, Irish ballads....things like Mary Hamilton, Barbrie Allen, and so on...they're mostly rather mournful and introspective. Joan Baez covered pretty well all of them, and she was my first real obsession as a folk performer. Then you've got the singer-songwriter ballad tradition, made strong by people like Woody Guthrie, Ramblin' Jack (who followed Guthrie), Bob Dylan (who followed Guthrie AND Ramblin' Jack), and so on...

That stuff tended to be modern in theme, yet strongly built on older tradition, and it could be either personal or topical, but it certainly wasn't dance music.

It's not that I look down on dance music, it's just not my main area of interest. I'm more interested in history, philosophy, spirituality, social change, and stuff like that.

Now as for the tunes..."Like a Rolling Stone" is not particularly tuneful, it's a visceral vocal recitation of anger and disgust for the most part rather than a tune. But...there are a great many marvelous tunes in Dylan's writing. I think it's the oddly particular tone of his voice that causes this to elude people. If you hear Joan Baez or Judy Collins or Shawn Colvin do Dylan songs you cannot deny the presence of those beautiful melodies.

A melody, put on paper, usually looks like a line of mountain ranges with peaks and valleys. Those peaks and valleys often mirror one another in various geometrical fashions and sometimes take a surprisingly big jump at some point. If you put Dylan's melodies on paper in this fashion and look, you will discover that he's just about as good at penning fine tunes as most other great songwriters.

It's just his voice that's throwing you off. I know this, because I can easily sing about 50 or 100 Dylan songs and I do not find the tunes lacking in the least. They're beautiful.

If you want to complain about lack of tunefullness...talk about Rap!!! :-)