The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #142469 Message #3285568
Posted By: Ron Davies
05-Jan-12 - 10:31 PM
Thread Name: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
Interesting. I usually think of Mr.Bridge as a remarkably reliable negative indicator. But on this one, much as it pains me to say it, he's nailed it: LH must have eaten an amazing amount of cheese.
It's of note that those who defend Dylan seem to virtually always cite early songs. I'd certainly agree that his earlier stuff was by far the best--just a guitar and sly bluesy remarks, on NYC, for instance. His very first album--obviously an attempt to claim Woody's mantle, is in fact delightful. And per Wiki, he himself does not like it. Turns out he only wrote 2 of the songs on it--but for my money they are the best ones. A sense of humor never hurts. But he soon (about the time he went electric, or even before) slipped into the turgid, tortured, pretentious, amorphously protesting, often mean-spirited twaddle (hope I'm not too subtle)--- that many of us in the 60's loved. I had a quote on my door for while to the effect that the 60's (protest) generation is probably the most overprivileged generation ever to mistake itself for revolutionaries. And Dylan was the poet laureate of this generation.
Have to admit I really loved Desolation Row--maybe because it was fun to memorize and sing just walking along. But neither it nor the rest of Dylan's output holds up. "Thin Man"? "Rolling Stone". ? Just read the lyrics. Dylan's voice was wonderfully appropriate for his songs. But the songs themselves are amazingly feeble--which is apparent if anybody else sings them.
After Dylan moved on from his first role, his output did not improve. I find the overwhelming majority of his "product" to be painfully naive and embarassingly dated.
Blowing in the Wind. Fine, that was put to good use. But "how many times must the cannonballs fly?". Bob will be pleased to know we've moved on from cannonballs to suicide bombers. So, you say, it's a figurative protest of war. That does not help its realism quotient.
I can't think of one Dylan song which can hold a candle to the best of MacColl (e.g. Shoals of Herring or Freeborn Man. Both have wonderfully soaring melodies and wonderfully evocative lyrics--both, interestingly, evoking a disappearing way of life.
We'll never know of course. But it would be interesting to see, in about 100 years, how many Dylan songs are sung by what we now call "folkies"--or anybody. While it's clear that at least the above 2 MacColl songs will be firmly established as "folk" songs--for many they already are.