The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #142469 Message #3295442
Posted By: Little Hawk
24-Jan-12 - 10:18 AM
Thread Name: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
Subject: RE: Why didn't MacColl like Dylan?
That was an absolutely great set of posts, Bob Coltman, the best explanation of what happened that I've heard yet. My initial reaction to Dylan's sound was very negative....and that was because I was a folk purist...wedded to the old sound, just like a lot of the other people in the folk audience who rejected the young Bob Dylan. He sounded too extreme to me...not like "folk music".
But I barely listened to him at all or even thought about him at that time...1961 to 1968, approximately.
I was listening, though, to all the other rising young folk stars such as Joan Baez, Peter/Paul/Mary, Simon & Garfunkel, Judy Collins, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Ian & Sylvia, Leonard Cohen (a bit later), Joni Mitchell (again, a bit later), all of them people who, unbeknownst to me, admired Dylan's work and were certainly influenced by it. (I don't know if Paul Simon admired Dylan...he made fun of him in one song...but I can't help thinking he was influenced by Dylan).
I also, funnily enough, liked the Dylan songs that Joan Baez had recorded better than anything else she was singing...and I was aware that Dylan had written those songs, so I decided that although I didn't want to hear him sing them, he was a really great songwriter. To that extent, I accepted him.
So here I was, this folk purist, hated the way Dylan sounded, but was very impressed by his songwriting. And I basically ignored his music until 1969....at which time I suddenly "got it"! (mainly because the one person in the world whose opinion I most respected at the time advised me to buy "Highway 61 Revisited" and actually listen to it all the way through at least 3 times.)
I listened to it once and was totally converted into a huge Dylan fan, and I agree with you that he "came into his own as a world-class performer when he had the electric backing and could work with it". That resulted in 3 incredible albums in '65 and '66 that will stand forever.
I also think, though, that his earlier acoustic work from the 2nd album on was often stunningly good and that it changed everything in modern folk music from that point on. He wrote the songs nobody else had written...and that (by his own testimony) is why he wrote them...because he simply couldn't find cover songs or trad songs that said what he personally wanted to say. He opened the door to everything that followed, not only in folk music, but in rock music too.