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Dylan overrated?You've got to be kidding

11 Aug 01 - 04:51 PM (#525799)
Subject: Dylan overrated? You're kidding
From: CRANKY YANKEE

More so than any artist in the history of the world,Bob Dylan changed the course of history.

Maybe you weren't around then, I was, and I rememer it vividly

His songs were a rallying point for the youngsters who opposed the Vietnam War. Because of his music, the movement became stronger and stronger until our Government was forced to listen to this dissent and to act upon it. That Lying SOB Lyndon Johnson, (for whom I worked like hell to get re=elected) got us into a war that we had no business being in, and the truths that Bob Dylan put into his poetry (songs) were a large factor in our getting out of it. For instance, Blowing in the Wind, Masters of War, Hard Rain's Gonna Fall and The Times They are a-Changin'.

Let me tell you, his songs and my Children COMPLETELY CHANGED MY VIEWPOINT. I'd just spent the major portion of my adult life in the US Air Force when Dylan came upon the scene. I was still in the USAF when I first heard "Blowing in the Wind" by Peter Paul and Mary on my AM car radio in 1963. I'd been fighting the "equality" fight ever since I was old enough to think for myself. I was so overcome by emotion and the feeling of "Thank God, I'm not alone anymore, that I had to pull over to the side of the road to compose myself and wipe the tears from my eyes so I could see.


11 Aug 01 - 05:00 PM (#525803)
Subject: RE: Dylan overrated?You've got to be kidding
From: Peter T.

Welll, CY, he seems to have changed the course of your history, so good for him. The curious thing about Dylan is that he is overrated for some things, and underrated for others. He has written terrible crap, and has immense buried treasure at one and the same time. Very odd.

yours, Peter T.


11 Aug 01 - 05:13 PM (#525810)
Subject: RE: Dylan overrated?You've got to be kidding
From: Rick Fielding

CRANKY, he changed MY world as well. Plus I'll duck for cover before adding..."the guy could (and can) pick"!

For what it's worth, Peter T helped me appreciate a lot of his "newer" material. Thanks PT.

Rick


11 Aug 01 - 05:25 PM (#525818)
Subject: RE: Dylan overrated?You've got to be kidding
From: GUEST,Frogmore

Peter T., There's nothing at all "odd about that."


11 Aug 01 - 05:26 PM (#525819)
Subject: RE: Dylan overrated?You've got to be kidding
From: Peter T.

"Until I met Rick Fielding, I thought Dylan's first album was one of the most amateurish things I had ever heard!"

--Peter T. (an actual quote! For a full transcript of this recent quote and actual pre-RF stupid remarks write to me, care of me)

(God, these Mudcat regulars, mutual backpatting, sucking up or what? Will it ever stop? Makes you nauseous, where is the sick bag, makes you want to go back to Morse Code, really.)


11 Aug 01 - 05:39 PM (#525834)
Subject: RE: Dylan overrated?You've got to be kidding
From: Rick Fielding

I have NO idea who that man was.

Back to Dylan however. Strikes me as he's been trashed more than anybody else as well.


11 Aug 01 - 06:24 PM (#525861)
Subject: RE: Dylan overrated?You've got to be kidding
From: GUEST

The quote "every generation sends a hero up the pop chart" springs to mind. Personally I don't think any one man makes great change - this is the beauty of traditional music, it's a collective effort.

Ian S


11 Aug 01 - 06:49 PM (#525877)
Subject: RE: Dylan overrated?You've got to be kidding
From: Irish sergeant

I always thought it was a collective effort but to be fair every writer, musician etc has their gems and also their lumps of Shit. Did Dylan write some crap? certainly he did that is part of writing, and growth. It's also what enables him to turn out the masterpieces he has and continues to turn out. Did he change history? Yes, but then we all do in our way. CY, I'm glad his music had such a profound effect on you. It means you're not dead or stupid. I've always liked his music. Let's face it, the man has a way with words. Kindest reguiards, Neil


11 Aug 01 - 09:47 PM (#525962)
Subject: RE: Dylan overrated?You've got to be kidding
From: Little Hawk

Rick Fielding is one of the few people I've ever met besides myself who is aware that Dylan is a pretty darned good guitar player.

As for songwriting? He's simply without peer.

In the words of Judy Collins: a national treasure.

And, it goes without saying, he's incomprehensible to some people.

So? I just shrug. They probably like something that I can't relate to, as well.

- LH


11 Aug 01 - 10:10 PM (#525971)
Subject: RE: Dylan overrated?You've got to be kidding
From: GUEST,aesop

I think Dylan is a good songwriter and a terrible singer. I always liked his songs sung by Joan Baez, or other people, but when he droned on in his own voice I wanted to cover my ears. He's written some great songs, but some are monotonous and preachy. And he can be awfully bitter. When I saw him on the Academy Awards show he was downright scary looking. Still, the song he sang was very powerful. Like most humans, he's a mixed bag.


11 Aug 01 - 10:24 PM (#525977)
Subject: RE: Dylan overrated?You've got to be kidding
From: mousethief

I think he began to believe his own press reports, and that's when he started writing emperor's clothes songs and dared somebody to say they were devoid of meaning.

He did write some great songs, no doubt. As one person said in another venue where we talk about musicians, like him or hate him, you have to respect him. Works for me.

Alex


12 Aug 01 - 02:10 AM (#526017)
Subject: RE: Dylan overrated?You've got to be kidding
From: CRANKY YANKEE

It's really great to know that some Mudcatters can think for themselves and form opinions based on solid and reasonable foundation. (pro and con)
Your posts, for the most part, are well thought out, lucid arguments which can only come from people with clear minds. Of course I don't agree with a lot of them, but, I certainly can respect the opinions of most of the people who post them here.

Thank you, Dick Greenhaus for providing a place for intelligent folks to argue reasonably. And, I do love to argue with people whose arguments are more than, "go to hell, you stupid SOB".

By the way, do you know about the half-assed indians who live in Florida, the Semiholes?

Hey............quit yelling at me, it's just a joke, and, besides, I'm old enough to be your Grandfather, and may very well BE your Grandfather.
?
love and kisses, Jody Gibson.


12 Aug 01 - 01:02 PM (#526153)
Subject: RE: Dylan overrated?You've got to be kidding
From: Rt Revd Sir jOhn from Hull

I like Bob Dylan.john


12 Aug 01 - 01:27 PM (#526161)
Subject: RE: Dylan overrated?You've got to be kidding
From: Clinton Hammond

I'm with john...

I like Bob too...

;-)


12 Aug 01 - 04:24 PM (#526257)
Subject: RE: Dylan overrated?You've got to be kidding
From: GUEST,Gern

For what it's worth, I think he is an underrated vocalist as well. Many of his timing nuances have become standard counterrhythmic devices. I can't imagine of American culture untouched by Dylan, and count myself with Cranky as indebted to Dylan for some growth in consciousness. It is only the influential who are accused of being overrated, generally; and often it is the uninformed or jealous who make such accusations.


12 Aug 01 - 10:39 PM (#526442)
Subject: RE: Dylan overrated?You've got to be kidding
From: Bill D

many agree that Bob Dylan is good......it's when they say it so often it begins to sound like 'god' that it worries me...


12 Aug 01 - 11:37 PM (#526464)
Subject: RE: Dylan overrated?You've got to be kidding
From: GUEST,Wilsie Boos

I'd rather listen to Bob Dylan singing
"Old Macdonald had a farm, ee-i-ee-i-o"
in his most nasal voice, to a disco beat,
than hear Judy Collins singing Leonard
Cohen. What I mean is, I like Bob. Same
as John and Clinton.


13 Aug 01 - 07:55 AM (#526595)
Subject: RE: Dylan overrated?You've got to be kidding
From: Whistle Stop

I think he is one of the greatest songwriters who have ever lived, notwithstanding the fact that he has put out his share of crap along the way. And I think his voice is one of the most expressive out there (with some lapses along the way). As good as his songwriting is, I would still rather hear him do his own songs than hear them done by others in most cases.

But Rick, WHY do you think he's a good guitar player? I've heard all his records through the mid-70's (own most of them), and a lot of what he's put out since; I've seen him live (twice), and seen him perform on television and in various films. Can't say I've ever heard any guitar playing out of him that impressed me, and when his ego gets the better of him and he tries to play lead guitar, the results are generally pretty awful. I'm willing to be enlightened -- can you give me a clue?


13 Aug 01 - 02:28 PM (#526877)
Subject: RE: Dylan overrated?You've got to be kidding
From: GUEST,Celtic Soul

I must agree with Aesop. I like many of his songs. I just can't listen to *him* sing them.

His son on the other hand has one *hell* of a voice! I only wish his music had the depth his Fathers did. :D


13 Aug 01 - 02:35 PM (#526881)
Subject: RE: Dylan overrated?You've got to be kidding
From: DougR

I like some of his music, but am not high on him as a vocalist.

DougR


13 Aug 01 - 03:07 PM (#526911)
Subject: RE: Dylan overrated?You've got to be kidding
From: MAG

Can someone more knowledgeable than me do a blue clicky to the Dylan thread at Oscar time?

TIA, MAG


13 Aug 01 - 03:12 PM (#526916)
Subject: RE: Dylan overrated?You've got to be kidding
From: Little Hawk

The only thing that Bob Dylan hasn't done that he could have, is cover William Shatner (assuming Shatner has written any original songs).

- LH


13 Aug 01 - 03:14 PM (#526921)
Subject: RE: Dylan overrated?You've got to be kidding
From: Clinton Hammond

What was it John Prine once sang?

"Fifty million Elvis Presley fans, can't be all wrong"

Bob must have somethin' goin' on!

;-)


13 Aug 01 - 03:38 PM (#526942)
Subject: RE: Dylan overrated?You've got to be kidding
From: alanabit

I rate Dylan as one of the greatest ever writers in terms of range, sophistication and sheer emotional force. I can understand people who dislike his singing (although I think it's inspired). I suspect what they really dislike is his voice, which never has been or aspired to being "pleasing" in any traditional way. That's the point though, he does not intend to sound like either Pavarotti or Belafonte. He is an excellent acoustic guitarist. Most guitarists who tried to play "It's Alright Ma" with the ferocity of Dylan would be playing a three stringed guitar by the fourth bar. That's bloody good right hand technique by any standard. The simple effectiveness of his picking - "Tomorrow is a Long Time" and "One Too Many Mornings" spring to mind - is unparalleled. Tell me who else would have pulled off the amazingly audacious simple open tuning arrangement of "Buckets of Rain"? He is simply one of the most messmeric solo performers I have ever witnessed.


13 Aug 01 - 03:44 PM (#526949)
Subject: RE: Dylan overrated?You've got to be kidding
From: Steve Latimer

Alanbit,

You've said it in a nutshell.

Let's not forget his playing on "In My Time Of Dying"


14 Aug 01 - 03:57 PM (#527971)
Subject: RE: Dylan overrated?You've got to be kidding
From: Big Tim

"If you wanna hear "singers" go to the Metropolitan Opera, I thought what we were singing about was the truth" - Leonard Cohen (paraphrased).


14 Aug 01 - 05:03 PM (#528049)
Subject: RE: Dylan overrated?You've got to be kidding
From: Ringer

I like some Dylan, and dislike some. For Dylan, you can also substitute Dave Burland, Leonard Cohen, Beach Boys, Roy Orbison, Beethoven (Wellington's Victory?) etc, etc, etc...

But not Mozart.


14 Aug 01 - 07:21 PM (#528176)
Subject: RE: Dylan overrated?You've got to be kidding
From: CRANKY YANKEE

Bald Eagle, to quote Bethoven in an interview, "We are musicians and composers, but, Mozart stand alone above us all. He is, just Mozart"

I can't help but agree with old Ludwig.


15 Aug 01 - 12:41 PM (#528553)
Subject: RE: Dylan overrated?You've got to be kidding
From: Zorro

I'll save myself (and you) some time and ditto Little Hawk's remarks. About Dylan's pickin': And old folk singer told me once that the guitar was originally made to accompany the singer's voice. The picking doesn't have to be outstanding, in fact it might take away from the song it it were. I like Dylan, especially his early stuff. He'll rate right up there with the best. Z


15 Aug 01 - 12:42 PM (#528556)
Subject: RE: Dylan overrated?You've got to be kidding
From: Whistle Stop

Sorry, alanabit, I just can't hear it; in my opinion his playing is competent on all three of those songs, nothing more. "It's Alright Ma" is a good part, but most of us who have been playing seriously for any length of time could do it better. "Tomorrow Is A Long Time" and "One Too Many Mornings" are both fairly pedestrian backing guitar parts -- simple alternating-thumb stuff (often called "Travis picking," although that's somewhat inaccurate). "Buckets of Rain" is the kind of part anyone will make up when they first discover open tunings.

Mind you, I'm a great admirer of Dylan, and I think these guitar parts are appropriate to the songs. They just don't rise to the level of great guitar playing -- they're functional, that's all.


15 Aug 01 - 12:49 PM (#528564)
Subject: RE: Dylan overrated?You've got to be kidding
From: Little Hawk

Well, you gotta sit down with Rick Fielding some time and he'll show you how Dylan picks those tunes...

I wish I could play that well.

- LH


15 Aug 01 - 01:51 PM (#528632)
Subject: RE: Dylan overrated?You've got to be kidding
From: Whistle Stop

I'm still waiting (even eager) to be convinced. I love Dylan, and would like to hear why he's a better guitar player than I've given him credit for being. Maybe when Rick shows me how Dylan picks those tunes (with his teeth?), I'll be more impressed. Right now I think I can tell how he picks them: he plays "It's Alright, Ma" in drop-D with a pick; he plays "Tomorrow Is A Long Time" in standard tuning, with his fingers and alternating thumb; etc. Basically, he plays them the same way anyone else would: adequately, functionally, without too much flash to get in the way of the song.

There's nothing wrong with that; in fact, I think it's the way they should be played. I don't knock the guy because he doesn't play like Martin Simpson (or Chet Atkins, or Joe Pass, or ______), any more than I would knock the guy who paints my house because he's no Rembrandt. But when someone says "that guy could pick!", I expect something more. What am I missing?


15 Aug 01 - 04:16 PM (#528777)
Subject: RE: Dylan overrated?You've got to be kidding
From: alanabit

I don't think you are missing anything Whistle Stop. I think the point that Rick Fielding was originally making was that Dylan is very much better than he is often given credit for. It has been left largely uncontested over the years when people have glibly commented "Can't sing, can't play". I wish I could always make such good musical decisions... Nobody is calling Dylan a guitar virtuoso - just a better player than he is usually given credit for.


15 Aug 01 - 04:36 PM (#528795)
Subject: RE: Dylan overrated?You've got to be kidding
From: GUEST,Steve N.

Whistle Stop: It's no wonder you don't get it, if the examples you are giving are what you judge his picking by..."It's Allright, Ma"?? "Buckets of Rain"??? Those could've been played on a calliope- they're not guitar songs. There are other examples, but just go get yourself the "Good As I Been To You" album. Then try playing anything on it as well as he does (flatpicking). He is NOT a great picker, but he is highly underrated in that arena.


15 Aug 01 - 07:31 PM (#528889)
Subject: RE: Dylan overrated?You've got to be kidding
From: GUEST,N


15 Aug 01 - 07:35 PM (#528891)
Subject: RE: Dylan overrated?You've got to be kidding
From: GUEST,Neil Comer

Take some singers- Bob Dylan, Andy Irvine, Geddy Lee (Rush- Canadian Rock band). Their voices can irritate. The whole point has to do with the mood the listeners in.If I want to be lifted, i'll listen to Queen signing 'The Seven Seas of Rhye.' If I want contemplation, i'll listen to Rush's Xanadu (noy Olivia Newton john's crap), if I want revolution, Dylan is the man.


16 Aug 01 - 07:42 AM (#529088)
Subject: RE: Dylan overrated?You've got to be kidding
From: Whistle Stop

Guest,Steve N, they weren't my examples -- I was responding to the examples given by others. I don't own, but have heard much of, his "Good As I Been To You" album. Again, it's functional, but not something that I would point to as an example of particularly compelling guitar playing. I could certainly play the parts as well as he does; they're not difficult.

Alanabit, I get your point, and I agree -- his playing works for what he's trying to do. It seemed to me that something more than that was implied in Rick's and Little Hawk's postings, but perhaps I read too much into it.


16 Aug 01 - 05:22 PM (#529635)
Subject: RE: Dylan overrated?You've got to be kidding
From: GUEST,Steve N.

Well, Whistle Stop, if you can just rip through that pseudo-Travis stuff on "Jim Jones" while you're singing, I wish you lived nearby so I could get some lessons. I'm not sure what your reference point is here....we're not trying to say he is a Tony Rice. His playing is, however, COMPELLING in every sense...for appropriate timbre and power there is "Mr. Tambourine Man", "House of the Rising Sun", "Hard Rain", "Desolation Row", "Masters of War", etc. For sweet and delicate there is "Tomorrow is a Long Time" and "Girl From the North Country", etc. And there is nobody around that can come even close to him on any Talking Blues (Jack Elliott - maybe). He is underrated as a guitarist not because of sophistication, technical facility, etc., but precisely because his playing is more than servicable...it is compelling. I do agree with you on one thing- as a "lead" electric guitarist he sucks big time....he ought to quit trying to do that.


17 Aug 01 - 01:11 AM (#529912)
Subject: RE: Dylan overrated?You've got to be kidding
From: Rick Fielding

AIEEEE CHEEWAWAAA! NO, NO, NO, and No again (just for emphasis!!)

I NEVER EVER referred to the songs mentioned as examples of Dylan's fine picking.

When I saw him live at Massey Hall here in Toronto he was doing his "It's all right Ma" etc. repertoire. By then he'd settled into a totally minimalist approach, doing virtually everything in Dropped D, with a very rudimentary chord strum.

The songs that impressed me (guitar wise) were on his FIRST ALBUM ONLY!

Listen to it and you'll hear very solid fast flat-picked runs. Strong driving rhythm, workmanlike (but accurate) slide guitar. A great riff (possibly lifted from The Everlys "Wake Up Little Suzie"). A D9th used ONLY by Dave Van Ronk at the time (it WAS 1961!) and one of the most inventive Eb chords I could imagine. Certainly MUCH better than the other singer-songwriters.

He never again came close to playing like that, but I gather that was by choice. Get the FIRST album. You'll see what I mean.

P.S. His tuning sucked though, and his strings must have been a hundred years old!

Cheers

Rick


17 Aug 01 - 08:09 AM (#530032)
Subject: RE: Dylan overrated?You've got to be kidding
From: Whistle Stop

Rick, we'll agree to disagree. I'm probably a little younger than you (43), so by the time I became familiar with Dylan's first album, I had already heard lots of hot-shot guitar players. I discovered Dylan in around 1968, when I was ten; I started with Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61, and Blonde On Blonde, and then worked backwards to catch up with his earlier stuff. Perhaps if you heard it when it first came out, it sounded more impressive, because you had fewer recorded examples of great guitar players to compare it to. I do agree with you about his strings and tuning -- he was pretty casual about that stuff.

Steve N, we probably agree more than we disagree. His playing works for what he's doing, primarily because it supports the songs without getting in the way. And yes, I can certainly do my share of pseudo-Travis picking while I sing; it's really not as difficult as it may sound (I live in Massachusetts if you really want lessons). I do agree that Dylan is (or at least was) a master at the talking blues. But to my way of thinking that's not so much a question of being a great guitar player as it is (1) being a great singer, which I think he is, and (2) being able to "split your brain" so that the singing and guitar playing can go on simultaneously without having to be in lock-step (comes with practice, just like the singing/Travis picking does).

Good discussion, guys.


17 Aug 01 - 11:12 AM (#530159)
Subject: RE: Dylan overrated?You've got to be kidding
From: GUEST,djh

Rick, I am with you. I don't know why so many people slight that first album, it is one of my favorites and his guitar work on it is superb.
I guess that is one of the funny things about Dylan there is someone who LOVES each album dearly , whether it be widely considered his best or his worst. I am still trying to figure out what so many folks love about Nashville Skylines.


17 Aug 01 - 11:36 AM (#530172)
Subject: RE: Dylan overrated?You've got to be kidding
From: Rick Fielding

Yeah Whistle, I was about 14, and it simply blew me away. I WILL say however, that I never thought Dylan's playing was on the same planet as SOME of the trad artists I'd heard by then, merely that when I read the initial reviews of that album it appeared to me that NONE of the reviewers seemed even remotely aware of the techniques he was using.

For example, Bill Monroe's (not anybody else's) patented yodel on Roy Acuff's Freight train Blues.

The fast flatpicking (in two different styles) on the former song and on Joe Williams' Highway 51.

The full SIX STRING chords on House of the Rising Sun. Dave Van Ronk's arrangement no doubt, but Van Ronk simply didn't DRIVE it like that....maybe nobody has since.

One of the things that I remember from that time was the almost (almost hell!) religious fervour that overcame me when I heard people like Dylan, Dock Boggs, Estil C. Ball, Fred Gerlach, Leadbelly, Bukka White, etc.

It was quite different from what I felt upon hearing The Weavers, Pete S. Paxton, Ochs, etc. that was more cerebral.

A perfect example was an album by Paul Clayton. (Dylan's friend) Clayton sung and played the songs with some skill and certainly a reverence for tradition....Dylan just ripped them apart with a "fuck you" attitude....but he still had discipline and timing to go with all that drive.

Cheers

Rick


17 Aug 01 - 06:43 PM (#530460)
Subject: RE: Dylan overrated?You've got to be kidding
From: GUEST,Steve N.

I agree that it's there on the first album, but don't forget the "Freewheelin'" album still shows some chops. Get a hold of some of the bootlegged early stuff, and the stuff where he is sitting in front of a tape recorder just singing/playing stuff "for Albert". Open-tuning, figerstyle, bluesy things like "Standing on a Highway"....mmmm, very tasty pickin'.


17 Aug 01 - 07:53 PM (#530520)
Subject: RE: Dylan overrated?You've got to be kidding
From: bob jr

well i am gonna add my two cents and say that if any of you wish to invest in the "bootleg" material out there you will find that dylan was a very fine acoustic picker on many of his early trad recordings (minnosota hotel tapes/mackenzie home tapes/gaslight tapes/finjan club tape) there are all available cheap if you find a collector (10 bucks should be about what you pay) you will here alot of cool adaptations and some truely fine playing(ok he aint no bert jansch but nobody said he was)the way his guitar carries some tunes is cool and as an adapter of trad songs he had few peers (the stone r n b way he sang some ,the sweetness he puts into others) and as for nashville skyline, great songs peter drake and kenny butrey and good singing.... guess thats why i like it ..if you cant hear it your loss.


17 Aug 01 - 07:58 PM (#530524)
Subject: RE: Dylan overrated?You've got to be kidding
From: GUEST,doncam

If you think that Dylan has a poor singing voice, then listen to Richard Thompson's "Dylan Medely". It is truly awful. The only voice that can carry the full meaning of a song is the voice of the writer. Take the soul-less renditions of Leonard Cohen's lyrics by a multitude of cover artists. The meaning of the lyrics is totally lost in orchestration. Nah, there is only one Dylan.


18 Aug 01 - 03:17 AM (#530669)
Subject: RE: Dylan overrated?You've got to be kidding
From: Big Tim

Love Leonard but also own and enjoy both cover/tribute albums. There aint no accounting for taste.