Oct 6, 2010

Ladies and gentlemen, the person that's going to come up now has a limited amount of time ... His name is Bob Dylan

There's no getting around it, so I'm just going to come out and say it:

I'm a music snob. 

Yes, it's true.  And this coming Friday is going to be a great day for my fellow music snobs in Gainesville.  That's right-- Bob Dylan is coming to town.

My friend Misti and I shirked our on-campus responsibilities one day a few weeks ago, to spend the afternoon in line for tickets.  So now we have them.  They look like good seats, I'll be accompanied by a bunch of great friends, and Tom managed to get the day off work!  It seemed like concert-going perfection... until I realized something-- my date knows very little about Bob Dylan.

My boyfriend has countless wonderful qualities.  For example, he is willing to kill moths-- even big scary ones!  He's also fiercely brilliant, smells nice, can dress himself without female intervention, and is sweeter, kinder and more thoughtful than most.  But on the other hand, he prefers music by guys who scream about pogo sticks and look like this:


Don't get me wrong... I love men in eyeliner:


Mmmm... tell me again what lies in the shadow of the statue.

But that doesn't mean I want them anywhere near my music (Though Jack Sparrow may be granted an exception, as he is based largely on Keith Richards).

So now, I feel it is my responsibility, both as an uber cool girlfriend and a self-respecting music snob, to skool (yeah, with a "k") Tom and the rest of the Internet about the finer points of Dylan appreciation. 

You're welcome. 


Ok, let's get started.

The complete listing of Bob Dylan Songs can be found here:
It's a great website, and you can play multiple versions of some songs.  I highly recommend browsing around there, if just to watch the record spin.
If I had to cite my favorite thing about Bob Dylan, it would have to be something my dad said to me many years ago, "He's not afraid of his own voice".   Well that's good, because other people are.

I mean, let's be honest-- he's got a face for radio and a voice for silent film.  My mother won't even pay money to see him in concert anymore, she hates the sound of his gravely voice so much.  But still, for me, something about it is hypnotic. 

His voice was not always so... harsh.  Comparing some earlier recordings to today's, it's easy to tell the difference.

Bob Dylan- The Times They Are A-Changin'
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His voice isn't the only thing that has evolved throughout the years. 

Good old Wikipedia explains it better than I can:
Having become synonymous with acoustic folk music and having performed as a professional musician with little instrumentation prior to the incident in question, singer-songwriter Bob Dylan was the subject of much controversy at Newport Folk Festival on Sunday July 25, 1965. During his performance Dylan "went electric", by playing with an electric blues band in concert for the first time. This seeming rejection of what had gone before made Dylan unpopular in parts of the folk community, alienating some fans, and is considered to have deeply affected both folk and rock 'n' roll.
Was this the birth of folk rock?  I really don't know... but it seems as likely an origin as any.

Bob dylan - maggie's farm
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Maggie's Farm was one of Bob's first electric songs, and it also happens to be one of my favorites.

Speaking of firsts-- let's talk about one of the first music videos.

I would even venture to say that this was the first "viral" video.  I have no real basis for that statement, but it sounded good and I do know that the video was wildly popular.  So much so, that my dad was doing a parody of this giant flashcard routine at a college show (not a Dylan show) the night he met my mother.  My mom thought he was weird.  Cute, right?

In all of my education and interpretation classes, we've discussed the value of making new information seem relevant by relating it to existing knowledge.  For example, I used to tell kids at the Michigan Historical Museum that beaver pelt hats were like Crocs-- everyone had them, and it meant you were really in fashion (every kid to come through the museum that year had on a pair).

So, in an effort to make Dylan relevant to my dear sweet boyfriend, I will now present a song that was emo before emo was emo:

While I was googling around, I also found this John Mayer version... which I actually really like.

I don't want anyone to read too much into this... but... Don't Think Twice is probably the greatest breakup song ever written. 

Now, because so many Bob Dylan songs are on the more low-key, acoustic end of the musical spectrum, it can be hard to find one that is appropriate for singing in the shower.  So, I will offer two rockin' suggestions:

1.) Changing of the Guards
My dad turned me on to this gem a few years ago.  Just try not to sing along with the backup singers.  Come on... try!

I don't have a video for this one, which is a bummer.  I could only find crappy acoustic covers, as played by lonely old men alone in their rooms.  But a chunk of the original can be heard here: http://www.bobdylan.com/#/songs/changing-of-the-guards

2.) Rainy Day Women No. 12 &35
If there were ever a great sing-along song, this is it.  I love the sound of the party going on in that studio and the part where Bob just cracks up while singing.  Seriously though, everybody must get stoned.

Still kickin' and still putting out new music...
Bob Dylan 2006 - Somebodys Baby (Modern Times Album)

Kern ( I Want to Be Dylan ) Little

Someday Baby has a decidedly electric blues feel to it, as does the rest of the Modern Times album from which it comes. I remember hearing this song in a commercial of some kind for a while and was a little irked... but I still dig it. In fact, this is what I stuck in my ears on the bus today, to drown out the sounds of squealing sorority girls.

And just when you think you know him... Bob will pop up as some kind of (gentile?) Tom Petty impersonating polka singer.

So, with all of that being said... if someone were twisting my arm, asking me to make a list of my TOP 5 favorite Zimmy tunes, this is what I would tell them (After "ow, ow, you're hurting my arm!"):

1.) It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)
2.) Tangled Up in Blue
3.) If You Gotta Go, Go Now
4.) Like a Rolling Stone
5.) Visions of Johanna

Needless to say, it's impossible to cover more than 40 years of music history in a single blog post.  But, I think this is about all of the relevant Bob Dylan knowledge one could hope to accrue in three days time.

Class dismissed.

UPDATE: In the short time since this post went live last night... I have been retaliated against!  So now, it's only fair that I post a link to Tom's emo lovefest.

1 comment:

  1. Jess,

    I know I'm a total creeper, and I'm sorry for posting like a total creeper, but just as an FYI, my roommate my freshman and sophmore year of college had the same reaction when she realized I didn't know anything about Dylan.

    Then she spent an entire SEMESTER teaching me about him. And then some. And still to this day when she's across the country AT BROWN, if I have a question about Bobby, she's who I call.

    So I know where you're coming from. More importantly, I know where your boy's coming from.

    Thanks for the refresher course.

    - Jen