The other day I did a post about Bob Dylan’s Nobel Lecture. While I think it is still a great read and a great listen, in some ways classic Dylan, I have also discovered that some people think he plagiarized at least part of it.
First, in the past when it was pointed out that some of his lyrics and much of his earliest music, seem to be pretty similar to existing works, he pointed out that there was a long tradition in folk music (and jazz) to quote existing works. This is true. Some of his earliest songs work because of these quotes. There are some who think he never did an original thing, that he is complete phony. Of course, I’ve never heard that his classics, like “Blowing in the Wind”, “The Times They are a Changin'”, “Mr. Tambourine Man”, “Positively 4th Street”, or anything off of Highway 61 Revisited are plagiarized in any way. But some think they are all phony and awful. Continue reading
Once I was discussing music with someone and they said something about how late in life they were before they understood that there was more to a song than just the words. I laughed and said that it was even later in life that I realize that words in songs had any meaning beyond how they sounded when sung. In my world view, the voice was just another instrument that was very flexible in the sounds it could produce, a kind of organic synthesizer.
Funny thing, though, as soon as I began to actually pay attention to meaning, Bob Dylan quickly became one of my favorites. Doubly funny, is that for some of his songs, it is the immediate imagery more than the actual meaning that jumps out. Close your eyes and listen to just about anything on “Highway 61 Revisited” and let your imagination run wild. Do you see it? At times it is back to my original thought of the sound of his voice, the individual words, creating its own meaning beyond what the words taken together mean. Continue reading