Bob Dylan, have an opinion?

Would love to hear your comments on the man. Good, bad or indifferent. Is he rocks most influential artist? Is he a musical and poetic genius? What are your favorite albums, songs, and concerts. Cornfedboy, ya got any good Dylan stories?
I was too young to see Dylan in the 60s. It wasnt until 1974 when he toured with the Band that I was able to see him at the Forum in LA. It wasnt the best place to see a concert but what a show. As we listened one last time an' we watched with with one last look spellbound and swallowed till the concert ended.
First there was Robert Johnson and then there is Bob Dylan. These two men, like Shakespeare, said everything worth saying about living life. I'm a big fan, revisted and otherwise. BTW, "Shakespeare's, he's in the alley..."
I went to the 1971 or 1972 Philadelphia Folk Festival. David Bromberg was playing and who should just pop in unexpectly but Bob Dylan. He sat in with Bromberg for a few cuts and proceeded with a 45 minute acoustic solo set. A very memorable experience especially since no one knew he would be there. A great musician and the poet laureate of a generation.
I was at a party where they were playing Andrea Bocelli. Someone said: "Imagine being able to sing like that". I thought to myself: Imagine being able to do anything that well.. inspired, near perfection, with nothing in the way.
That's how I fell about Dylan's poetry. What astounds me, even more,is that he is so prolific.

Iv'e seen him in concert many times, from The Concert for Bangladesh, to the recent tour with Paul Simon. Some great shows and some bad. I saw him do "I shall Be Released" so poorly that I didn't recognize it, until the song was almost over, no melody whatsoever.
Guess I'm the only naysayer in this thread. I was in my 20's during the 1960's and listened to a lot of singers and groups. Of all the artists from that period, I never understood why Bob Dylan was so idolized. There were many other artists who also wrote great lyrics and had infinitely better singing voices. I also have a number of good friends who can't stand Dylan. As the French say,
chacun a son gout...........
If you rate Dylan by his voice, rather than what he does with it, you can miss the whole point. Sure, Lightfoot or
Don Mcclean or... have 'better' voices, but few if any, singer/songwriters can go straight through to your gut like Dylan. BTW, Nashville Skyline, Blood On The Tracks and Desire show off his voice, versus just his interpretation, a little better, but the Dylan I love best is the
hard-edged Dylan of Blonde on Blonde or Highway Sixty-One Revisited. OK, you got me, I like all of it. Hey there are a lot of Manilow-smooth vocalists out there. Who cares. Give me grit and soul any day. There are more good lyrics in one decent Dylan composition than in any hundred other albums. and that's counting the better albums, IMHO.
His voice these days sounds like they dug him up to record, but his inner voice is undeniably still there. If they are going to give every hack for miles around an award, it was about d*** time they gave an Oscar to America's greatest troubador.
Well I believe you SD but how do they say it when speaking the Queen's English? I agree that there were other great lyricists of the day and the first to come to mind would be Paul Simon. Dylan however spoke to the 60’s youth about a generation’s concerns in one of the most upheaval periods in our history. He was therefore more than just a lyricist. He was the spokesman to the youth opposed to the status quo. I certainly can't think of any other singer, lyricist of that time that connected better to the themes of that era than he. “For what its worth” to paraphrase another poet/lyricist of the same era (Stephen Stills).
Dylan has never been willing to be the spokesperson of the times. I think it is best to seperate the art from the artist. The art will be here in a hundred years. Puff Daddy (unless he's remembered for something other than music, a possibility), Madonna, Britney, ect., will be forgotten like the rest of us. As the song says: "It Aint Me Babe".
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I don't think sdcampbell's missing the point. Dylan's peculiar, and it's easy to see why he just might not hit it off with some people. However, I'm a big fan. He introduced a literary quality to the lyrics of popular music that came from the streets and railroad yards. But mainly, the man writes a mean tune... and what a range in songwriting he's got. From great love songs to nasty payback anthems. Also, he's a good interpreter of traditional stuff. And, his going electric -- that's at the top of profiles in courage in popular music. Favorite album? That would change from day to day. Today it would be John Wesley Harding. Hey, on some days it's been Self Portrait; I dare anyone else to say that!
I remember his amazing release in the 1960's summertime. I was day labor, painting buildings to make money for college. "Like a Rolling Stone," the first single release to be aired that ran for more than about two minutes. Each time it came on, we all stopped working, stared at the tiny plastic radio and reflected on the words. I was hooked from then on.
brulee: i've said some of this before, but since you asked............ our 1st son, born may 7, 1969, was named dylan. that was a fairly rare name at the time but, unfortunately, is no longer. i was struck by its commonality especially when i learned that one of the columbine killers was named dylan klebold. that coldblooded killer couldn't have been named for the man born bobby zimmerman. at least i'll never believe so.

i heard dylan's first record in 1963 on a hifi rig built by one of my fraternity brothers. it was my listening to his unique voice on that tiny system, singing "blowing in the wind" that drove me into the hobby i've been at ever since.

first time i saw dylan perform was by chance, the year before i 1st heard him on vinyl. he was playing in a small venue, a bar really, just off harvard square. he mostly sang duets with a young woman named joan baez.

i've followed dylan's careening paths through folk, rock, nashville country, christian, post-divorce and all other forms of music he's written and sung for, lo, these last 39 years. he's disappointed me at times, i'll admit. but his best stuff is, IMHO, some of the most important music of the last century. as others have said, he's never had a soothing voice or great range. nonetheless, his music and his words nearly always shine through.

i hadn't seen the man live since he toured with the dead, until i went to see him and paul simon sing together a couple or three years ago. lately, i've been to at least a concert a year. he's playing at mackey auditorium at the university of colorado tomorrow nite. i'm planning on being there, with all the other old farts and the youngest generation, so far, to embrace him. -kelly
Sd. Try Joan Baez in concert volume II on Vanguard records, preferably on Black first issue LP. Listen to her version of "dont think twice its allright". More need not be said.
Thanks, everyone, for not crucifying me (with Good Friday just past). Individual tastes vary, and some of the jazz singers I like certainly don't appeal to everyone -- a good example is the late Betty Carter. Or in the folk vein, maybe Odetta would be a good example. In thinking more about Dylan, I like some of the song lyrics he wrote, and the reference to Joan Baez's version of "Don't Think Twice" is a good example -- I like her version a LOT better.
SD rather than crucify you ironically enough I really can relate to where you are coming from. Until that 1st time I saw him in that August evening of 29-30 summers ago my sentiments concerning Dylan could have been summed up similar to yours. Maybe it was the venue of that warm summer evening when he performed and all that could be heard were the sounds of the crickets and his guitar/harp and words that moved me for the very first time. “The Times They Are A-Changin” sure connected with that point in my life. I came to a different realization of the man from then on. It was a connection thing plain and simple.
SD, in terms of uniqueness of delivery, the analogy with Betty Carter (whom I love) is not too shabby. Dylan's songwriting prowess (both lyrics and music) is for the ages, I think, and maybe as good as any way to appreciate it is by listening to other artists' covers. This morning, I listened to a cover of "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" by a reggae artist named Arthur Lewis that is really cool.
Dylan's music is a major part of my history and how many people viewed the world 30+ years ago. I have not been loaded for years though and therefore stopped claiming that I understood much/most of his early lyrics. He lost me musically for a while (around Nashville Skyline) though I know that he was in a serious motorcycle accident at that time and this may be why. He also lost me on a personal level, both with his interviews of the 60's (I felt like cuffing him and I was far from being "the man") and later on with his religion swapping (I am not religious but it just parodied my experiences with close friends that had also gone through this phase and I was tired of it already). When Rolling Thunder was touring the violin player, Scarlet, stopped by my rehearsal space to play with the band that I was with (I gave her my old Ernie Ball belt operated volume pedal, to keep as they were hard to find at the time, and hooked her up through a Dynaco Pas3x/Fender Princeton Reverb setup that had her drooling - kind of a Hi-fi meets music amplification thing:-). I had briefly met his ex-wife before this event and had also looked after his son one Saturday afternoon (I just recently realized that he is the kid in the Wallflowers). His son was normal and a good kid and I assume that he was/is a good father (quite a trick considering what he does for a living). Me and my buddy ended up buying the kid two six packs of "Billy Beer" (this was in 1978 or so) which he had wanted, not to drink, but for the novelty. I never saw him perform live, even when they were in LA as I was busy at the time, my wife though saw him at Carnegie Hall, front row center, maybe in 1964 and has told me that I missed out on something that I would have really enjoyed (I was 9 in 1964 but could have easily seen him a few years later as I started attending concerts at the age of 12 or 13 with older musicians). Think my first one was the Lovin Spoonful followed by Cream. Anyway, not a lot about Dylan in this little ramble, but hope the "fringe" stories wit an audiophile twist are somewhat entertaining.
Ditto to what SD and Winoguy wrote. Nothing against him, he just never "spoke" to me through his music. He ain't done too badly though for a kid from Minnesota.
I love his simple poetic works with maybe just guitar. What I own is all on LP.

Actually, regarding the mentioned Andrea Bocelli. I can imagine singing like Andrea Bocelli. Notice that he always sings miked. Can you say KARAOKE ??

As a great artist he has continued to evolve. I found especially moving his last CD Time out of Mind with superb production by Daniel Lanois. He now sings poignantly about the approaching long night. (He did have a near death experience a couple years ago when he was treated for fungal pericarditis.) Unfortunately he did not sing any of these songs when he toured with Paul Simon. His Oscar winning song is in the same vein though.
A couple of these responses crack me up. Now, I am not trying to be nasty, just anecdotal. My father was visitng me this weekend. He is 83 and not too quick any more. He looked at my hifi (about a kazillion $ at this point) and asked me to put on "something nice". I put on an Eric Clapton cd which received the response: "he has such a bad voice, why do you like him?" Oh well.
Oops ... I forgot to mention: I think Dylan is wonderful. He is one of the great singer/songwriters of the last 30 years. Even when is not singing about something important to me I still love to listen to how he sings his songs. There is a special passion in his crappy voice.
MG: Did you find something that your father liked? My parents visited us for a week this past New Years (they are pushing eighty) and other than Ella, Sarah, Nat and the like they really got into the Cowboy Junkies.
Sd et al, I just remembered many years back a young woman(and contemporary) was arguing with her twin sister about the technical problems with Joni Mitchell's(!) singing, saying that she 'glided' wrong or something. I was amused and horrified to hear one of my favorites criticised, but it just goes to show you that there is 'standard' technique in singing, and then there is what works emotionally and musically. If it works for you, I would not knock any music or musician. Any more than I would knock an involving component just because it strayed from accepted specs or design. Anyone else see the analogy?
I once ran Joni's recorded voice through an osciliscope and boy, talk about pure tones. She hits them all the time.
Dekay, I run Joni's voice through my speakers all the time, and can verify the purity of what your oscilloscope measures.

The one thing that you and I can appreciate that the oscilloscope cannot, are the vivid images she constructs. They may not be as startling as the world as viewed by Dylan, but they beautifully reflect her life experiences. It is obvious she is devoted to her music, and within her music is the truth of her pain in love (and lost), her travels and experiences, and her abstract views of moments that she never wants to forget. Musical stories, bound with pure tone, the true meaning of the gift of music.
Hi Albert: I did this in junior high school and the AV crew ran it through an overhead projector for an assembly. I do not know if this is a common occurence for singers but I was shocked at the time by the symetry of the patterns that none of us could dupicate ourselves. I met her once on Malibu Beach when she was doing some kind of jazz album (another long story that I won't tell) but just wanted to note that she chain smoked Winstons for the hours that I was there and my friend told me that she always smoked like that. From the way that she was toking away you think that she would have sounded like Tom Waits, but not at all, what a sweet voice.
Dekay, I never met her, and would gladly trade about a half dozen of those (in rock and roll) that I have met in trade for your experience. She is one of a handful of artist that I have never grown tired of, in spite of the many changes she has endured since the late 60's.
Dekay, could you please tell the story about the time you met Joni you lucky guy. You can't start something like that without finishing (ive heard that somewhere before)
Please please please.

Well said! Notice I did not knock Dylan, rather simply said his music never spoke to me. Pace.
Brulee: Not much to tell. I ran into a neighbor of mine (that was hooked up) in the early morning hours when I was taking out the trash cans for my building (I had just come back home from a local club). He had returned home to replenish some party materials and I was invited back up to Malibu. They had been in a studio that evening working on an album (I seem to remember something about an "ALL Star Jazz Band"), there was also a petite bass player present that may have been Italian, but I cannot remember his name. They had taken a break at the studio that evening and had gone to a local jazz club to hear some unknowns. The unknowns it turned out blew away what they had already accomplished in the studio and they were therefore in a strange mood. I assume that they went back and redid the tracks, for the better (music is like that sometimes). I have looked for this CD in the record stores recently, but never see anything like it in stock and assume that it would have been released in 78 of 79, if at all. I was always a nobody, but because of keeping odd hours and living in LA I always seemed to run into a lot of musicians and some comedians in the early morning hours. I was also always broke and excelled at "hanging out" if you know what I mean and used to walk into the Troubadour and other show venues most nights at midnight when the cover was dropped, also frequented hole in the wall restaurants and clubs that were open until 4:00 am, some of which served alcohol illegally during this time. I was as thin as a toothpick which is why I was probably invited to share some late night meals by some of these people. Musicians whether they are famous or not are generally completely worked up after they get off work and like to hang a lot. It's kind of funny in that I did not even realize who some of these people were until later on. One of them was Sly Stone who I used to play pinball with at Barney's Beanery. I asked somebody what had happened to Sly and was told that he was in jail by one of the bartenders, that was when I made the connection. I once got drunk with Richard Prior at the Improv, but did not recogize him because the pock marks on his face had been removed when they did the burn surgery. I thought that it was him, but was used to the marks on his face and figured that it was just somebody that looked and talked like him (boy was I drunk).
The closest I got to Joni was front row at the Pit in Albuquerque, a city that allowed one to see more great musicians up close and affordably in the seventies than the Fillmore East or Brooklyn Academy of Music combined(which were blocks from my high school.) She had Tom Scott and the L.A. Express with her, and was just magical. I have read the classic Rolling Stone interview, but I envy you your one-on-one experiences. Right places, right times.
Most fellow musicians I have met were not big names, but wonderful nonetheless.
Need to replace my old John Wesley Harding LP. Can anyone offer some guidance about alternatives -- reissues, vinyl v. CD, etc.? General info about Zimmy's reissues would be interesting, too. Thanks
I forgot about the John Wesley Harding album, thanks. We just have the double Carnegie Hall CD and some new one (97 or 98) that my wife picked up (haven't listened to it yet). My wife can still recite the lyrics from the "Blonde on Blonde" album which are imbedded in her brain (while the best that I can do is remember the the lyrics from "I'm so Glad", by The Cream:-). PRS123: I have never seen Joni Mitchell perform, which is lame on my part as she used to play out here quite a lot.
I love Dylan's music. In the most difficult evenings of my life, I would always turn to Bob through my stereo. Singing along and playing the music as loudly and soulfully as I could. At some point, I would give it up, and go to sleep. Always felt better the next day. In my mind, a genius, no doubt. Don't care for his paintings though.
Dekay: Yes, I put on Lou Rawls (At Last), Dinana Krall Love Songs), and Carrie Smith (Confessin' the Blues) to bring out his smile.
I still haven't discovered the key to enjoying Dylan. Agreed, he is an amazing bard/poet, but I just get tired of hearing his voice. I can tolerate it for about 3 or 4 songs. But after that, I'll take the Tribute to Dylan albums out and replace Blood on the Tracks.
In 1985 a 12-inch piece of plastic saved my life, at least metaphorically.
At 21 years of age, a bit lost and studying at college I found a record, which renewed my love of music and reflected the times I lived in. Britain was gripped with the callous leadership of Margaret Thatcher, the once proud industrial heartllands were all but extinct and my own city of Glasgow suffered more than most.
The record was This Is The Sea by The Waterboys, my love of this record made me search out live tapes by the band, the one recurring theme was the number of Bob Dylan songs they covered.
So I discovered Bob Dylan by that very method he once described himself as “links in a chain”.
It was a discovery that was to become a passion and on the eve of his 60th birthday here are my thoughts on the great man.
There is a lot of mythology surrounding Dylan.
To me he basically represents an America that now longer exists and has taken popular songwriting forward to an area that no one since has been able to take any further.
The stupid artistic debates that existed in the UK in the early 90’s, which asked if he was a better poet than Keats, missed the point you may as well ask was Keats a better guitarist than Dylan?
Probably the one thing that has kept Dylan going through his career is the fact that he never took himself as seriously as others and basically let the music do the talking.
In the 60’s Dylan took the centuries-old folk format and dragged it screaming into the modern world with a natural poetic brilliance.
Both influencing and being influenced by The Beatles he returned to his first love of rock and roll and created a trilogy of records arguably unsurpassed in the history of popular music (Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde On Blonde).
Since then Dylan has continued to intrigue and bewilder those brave enough to stay along for the ride.
In 1991 the Bootleg Series was released a 3CD collection of unreleased material, this illustrated the whole range of Dylan’s career with unreleased material…an amazing feat proving once and for all that he was without equal in the history of popular songwriting.
He has made many bad records along the way; in the early 90’s his voice hit an all time low but in the tours of 2000 he gave concerts considered to be amongst his greatest ever.
In 1975 he released Blood On The Tracks considered by many to be his greatest record-not too many all-time greats have given us such a great record
Dylan represents the history of American music from old murder-ballads, country music, folk, pop and rock he has written songs in most styles and whatever criticism you can throw at him, you simply cannot put him in one box.
He is also something of a visionary, reflecting America and the world in his songs and this darker aspect of his musical output and insight meant that he would never have the popular impact of the Beatles.
During a drunken speech at a CORE gathering he was booed as he stated he could see himself in Lee Harvey Oswald, it was a remarkable thing to say. Despite the freedom the 60’s would bring Dylan could see that society was cracking and there was a dark underside to America.
He would never state it as plainly again but his songs continued to reflect the world as he saw it.
The appeal of Dylan is a mystery to many, his voice never had total appeal but if you listen to popular music at all you cannot doubt his impact.
Even for those who gave up on him, there are gems of songs to be found scattered even amongst his poorer output.
Always one step ahead Dylan has been both a traditionalist and a challenger of the status quo.
His influence is everywhere and I would argue any other single artist cannot challenge his collection of songs.
He is a genuine genius in a genre where the word is used too freely.
I’ll leave you with a top ten of lesser-known Dylan songs.

1.Blind Willie McTell-The Bootleg Series
2.Up To Me- Biograph.
3.Every Grain Of Sand-Shot Of Love
4.Brownsville Girl-Knocked Out Loaded
5.Silvio-Down In The Groove
6.Series Of Dreams-The Bootleg Series
7.Last Thought On Woody Guthrie-The Bootleg Series
8.Highlands-Time Out Of Mind
9.Most Of The Time-Oh Mercy
10. The Man In The Long Black Coat-Oh Mercy
Thank you Robert Allen Zimmerman and happy birthday Bob Dylan.

Charlie Zappa
Charlie, that was great. You made my day. Hears 10 more lesser-known Dylan songs.
1. One Too Many Mornings
2. Dignity
3. Tomorrow Is A Long Time
4. Hard Rains A-Gonna Fall
5. To Ramona
6. Love Minus Zero/No Limit
7. Its All Right Ma (im only bleeding)
8. When The Ship Comes In
9. Visions Of Johanna
10. Walls Of Red Wing
60 years ago tomorrow
Hopefully this isn't too shallow a question, but here goes: I would like to buy some of the aforementioned albums on CD. Are there some releases that sound particularly good (remastered, etc.)? From a recording, mastering, sound point of view. Thanks!

- Eric
Dylan has a gift and we are better off that he has shared it with us. Too many people create and have nothing to say. When Dylan creates it is 99.99% of the time worth saying. He is the "reference" that all will be measured against.