Friday, July 20, 2012

Why Is Bob Dylan So Exalted As An Original?

Bob Dylan on Woody Guthrie's 100th Anniversary
I first heard Bob Dylan, the Free Wheeling album, via my teenage girlfriend (who I would later marry). At the time, I had a Woodie Guthrie LP; I was into Hudie Ledbetter and related to Woody through Hudie and Cisco Houston and a young Pete Seegar. I also knew of Woody through his brother Jack Guthrie who I knew from the C&W Texas-Oklahoma scene for his hit "In the Oklahoma Hills Where I Was Born"--"Way down yonder in the Indian Nation/Rode my pony on the reservation/In them Oklahoma hills where I was born." But I never got into "folk" music as it eventually became known and ended up following Hudie Ledbetter off into the blues. Eventually even separating myself from Hudie when I heard those early Muddy Waters records that led me deep into the heart of the Electric Blues, the Chicago Blues, what I now simply call The Blues.

My teenage girlfriend had been a rebel, a lover of Socialism and all things anti-Eisenhower-era American. She had posters of Chairman Mao up alongside her Bob Dylan albums. Hey, I must admit, I did like Bob's anti-war lyrics, but that's about as far as it went in terms of his music, which to me was simply copycatting Woody Guthrie. I mean, come on, his vocals, his guitar playing, his harmonica playing were copies of Woody's vocals, guitar playing, and harmonica playing. Bob Dylan had stolen Woody's style and I know Dylan even admitted that at one time.

Then I remember I was living in Dallas when Bob turned on the folk cats and came out with "Like a Rolling Stone," and much to my girlfriend's disgust, I admitted I liked Old Bob better and saw he had a potential to be himself finally, electrified, though in style he still copied Woody. He was electrified Woody.

After I got into jazz (as a piano player and singer), I left Bob and the would-be folkies way behind. Oh, I kind'a dug "Lay Lady Lay" and his basement tapes--I always liked "Maggie's Farm," but in terms of Bob as innovative...sorry, all I heard was Woody gone electric, Woody gone rock 'n roll and Bob rollin' in the dough and makin' it with the hippy babes.

In terms of music, Bob never went much further than "Like a Rollin' Stone," the "rollin' stone" motif coming straight from the real and original Muddy Waters, whose real name was McKinley Morganfield.
Muddy with his first record.

From the Blues came the strongest elements of jazz and from jazz came America's true classical music.

Here's a jazz blog I find very interesting, though I'm puzzled as to why it is no longer updated.

Who'd'a ever thought so many great jazz innovators came from North Carolina!

Fatha P. Pounder
(not his real name)

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