My Echo, My Shadow And Me wrote:
I have said it before and I will repeat it here: Please listen to the ENTIRE WORKS of Charley Patton, Blind Willie Johnson and Howlin' Wolf. And I mean the ENTIRE WORKS. Then listen to Love & Theft, Modern Times, Together Through Life and Christmas In The Heart. I think it is impossible to fully understand and appreciate what Dylan is doing without having listened to at least the above three artists' works.
I'm seriously not trying to be a jerk here. Really I'm not. Keep that in mind.
Your implication that you have heard the ENTIRE WORKS
of Charley Patton, Blind Willie Johnson, and Howlin' Wolf (and by claiming audience to those we can assume you've heard the others that include Son House, Blind Willie McTell, John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, Big Joe Turner, etc.) and then your proceeding inclusion of Dylan - specifically his last 3 proper albums - into that same category seems crazy to me.
Dylan can never
and will never
come close to creating music like Charley Patton, Howlin' Wolf, or any of those blues elders. It's not his fault; it's just the way it is. That music, to me, is impenetrable and I really wish folks would finally accept this. You think hearing these famous musicians will help unlock Dylan's recent output? If anything, listening to Patton, Johnson, and Wolf will make you see just how far from the blues Dylan is and always has been.
There are musicians out there that do their best to channel these once-human-now-supernatural singers and players, but no one can truly capture the music and how it used to be. This is just plain old common sense to me; artists nowadays simply don't have inside them what these bluesmen had. There have also been so many advances - mainly economical and technological - since the greats started departing this world. Those blues singers, whether found in a bar room in Chicago or a juke joint in the Delta or in the field hammering away at a stone while chained to twenty others, were being swallowed up by the world around them and that came out in their shitty amplifiers and rusty harmonicas and it sounded absolutely brilliant. Why? Because it was real. It was true. Some say that anybody can sing the blues. That's just not accurate and awfully insulting. Now, all artists can do is hope to immitate that same broken-down blues sound and attitude. However, that hope only reveals them to be trying.
There's a reason why Tom Waits isolates himself in rural California and surrounds himself with pre-WWII machinery and other curious objects - he's trying to get back to that ghostly force that inspired that old music. Is he successful? It depends on opinion I suppose. I love the music of Tom Waits - I really do - but I'm not so far up my ass to not realize that he knows exactly what he's doing when he records outside in a dusty field with some chickens or on the sidewalk with bones. Recently, Mellencamp went on and recorded his No Better Than This
album with one microphone to try and replicate the Sun Studio and classic blues sound. I'm not grouping Johnny Cougar with the greats, but this is just another example of a modern artist trying to get back to what once used to be. Does Dylan do this? Sure he does. It's why he lifts songs, riffs, etc. from the public domain. Is he successful? Again - it's up to opinion; I say he's not as successful as he could be or as successful as others think he is. Don't get me wrong (I think I say this phrase more than any others in this forum), I dig Dylan and I prefer ModBob over ClassicBob. I like his sound and his broken-into-a-million-pieces-and-unable-to-be-repaired voice. But I will never concede to the idea that he's in the same league as Muddy Waters, Charley Patton, Howlin' Wolf, and all those stone giants. And I will never subscribe to the idea that Dylan's voice (even though I may enjoy it tremendously) does what Muddy's did. And I will never raise my fist and proclaim Dylan to be an amazing singer. He's a peculiar singer yes, but his voice is not some force of nature like some around here illustrate. He possibly could be if he was more sincere. Let me explain what I mean by this.
As I stated above, musicians can only hope to immitate that blues sound and that blues attitude. Those (musicians, music critics) who have a good grip on the blues know that you can't have one without the other. Bob could have that blues sound if he stripped his six-piece (or five-piece) band or whatever he's playing with nowadays, but he'll never have that attitude. That sincere blues. That blues that comes from the heart and the blood. That feeling we hear and feel when we listen to Howlin' Wolf or Sonny Boy Williamson or Etta James or Billie Holiday or Hank Williams. Why? Well. Who are you going to believe - a black guy whose only salvation from working all day is playing guitar all night or a some white punk from Minnesota? Who are you going to believe? A black guy with a voice created by life or a white guy with a voice destroyed on purpose? This is very similar to a recent post of mine in regards to the difference between being a poet and being poetic. Dylan - along with Van Morrison, Eric Clapton, Robert Plant, Tom Waits, etc. - can be bluesy. They can play bluesy music and sing bluesy lyrics. But they cannot truly sing the blues.
And before anybody says "So, Mr. Delvis Crasho, no white guys should be allowed to sing the blues?
" allow me to retort. Sure, they can try and that's all it will be. Trying
. But more power to 'em for taking on the impossible and preposterous task. They can go on ahead and beat on their guitar like Jack White and claim affiliation with Son House and others; but I'm not going to take them all that seriously and I will most certainly snicker - judgingly - at those that do.
On another note, I'm hoping the new album will be made up of Edith Piaf songs sung in French. This is the next logical step in my opinion since Bob's voice could remain broken and still mysterious (unless you know Francais).