Friday, October 24, 2008

As (not) sung by Bob Dylan

I have always been a big fan of singer/songwriters. I believe that the writer of the song, has invested some of his (or her) own personality (spirit, essence, character...pick your term) into that song. It's a part of the writer -- like anything else. 
Therefore, the songwriter sings that song, the way it was intended to be sung. 

With one BIG exception: Bob Dylan.

Don't get me wrong here, I think Bob Dylan is a fantastic song writer. I was not raised listening to Dylan's music, and maybe that's part of it. But, I listen to the lyrics of a song. The music, as important as it is, is secondary to me. And, over the years, it's gotten to the point that when I hear a song with stunningly beautiful lyrics, I am no longer surprised to find that Dylan is the author. In fact, I was introduced to his words, long before I ever heard him sing.
Or whatever it is that he does. What is that, anyway? It sounds like he holds his nose and talks.
I get that he is a folk singer, and that they have a little different sound. I listen to folk music. I am not averse to a singer, with a non traditional voice. In fact, most of the singers that I listen to, have voices that take some getting used to. But Bob Dylan can't sing. I realize that I could be burned at the stake for that statement -- but I must speak truth, where truth must be spoken.
A quick scan through my iTunes music folder turned up eight Bob Dylan songs, all sung by people other than Dylan, himself. If I took the time, I'm sure the list would be much more comprehensive. 

Here's my top five songs, not sung by Bob Dylan:

1. Girl from the North Country: Sam Payne with Peter Breinholt
    This is a beautiful love song, and Sam Payne stays close to the feel of the Dylan original, which is usually, but not always, important.

2. Forever Young: The Pretenders
    I first heard this song, during the end credits of the movie "With Honors." It choked me up, and I didn't even have kids yet. 

3. To Make You Feel My Love: Garth Brooks
    From the soundtrack to the movie "Hope Floats." I'm hot and cold with country music, but when Garth Brooks is on, he is really good.

4. Knockin' on Heaven's Door: Guns 'n' Roses
    This is a spectacularly rockin' version of this song, and it sounds great LOUD! There is one addendum: in the middle of the song they do some lame gun sound effects, and some, freakish, ranting phone call. It's bizarre, but Guns 'n' Roses was spiraling out of control at this point.

5. All Along the Watchtower: U2
    This is a live version, from the Rattle and Hum album. In truth, really it's U2 doing their take on the Jimi Hendrix version of the song (probably the most famous version).
Honorable mentions (from my iTunes files): 

Mr. Bo Jangles: John Denver

The times, they are a changin' and Blowin' in the Wind: Peter, Paul and Mary.

Check out any or all of these. You won't be disappointed. 
In fact, go to the iTunes store, look up Bob Dylan, write down some of the titles, and then run in the opposite direction. 

To anyone but Bob Dylan. 

There, I feel better.


Val said...

I must say these 5 songs are a lot better than the other songs you have blogged about!

Anonymous said...

Sorry but mr. bojangles wasn't written by Dylan. It was written by Jerry Jeff Walker. Even Dylan's version is just a cover.