The Rant: Who The Hell Is Noah Berlatsky & Why Is He Trashing Bob Dylan?


Yesterday at Salon, some guy named Noah Berlatsky took out a hatchet and went after Bob Dylan.

Ok, I get it. Websites need heavy traffic and attacking Bog Dylan is an easy way to get thousands of Dylan fans to click on a story. And others too.

For this particular story, the headline is:

“10 musicians influenced by Bob Dylan who are better than Bob Dylan”

So right off you and I know this is so lame we shouldn’t be wasting time on it.

Why would anyone need to compare one musician to another? And who cares if this guy thinks some musicians that were influenced by Dylan are better than Dylan?

I just couldn’t let this crap go by without commenting.

Now we’re not dealing with facts here. We’re dealing with opinion. The opinion of one man. And this guy Berlatsky, a correspondent for The Atlantic magazine, can have any opinions he wants. If he thinks Donovan is a better singer than Bob Dylan (one of his claims), hey, I can think he’s an idiot. I can even tell you he’s an idiot. But if that’s what he thinks, that’s what he thinks.

After all, plenty of people bought Pat Boone records. Journey is still popular. There was a time when Styx could fill coliseums.

Berlatsky states that Dylan “may be the most overrated performer in the history of popular music.”

He criticizes Dylan’s signing, writing: “As a singer, he mimicked the roughness of roots sources without capturing their nuance or power, often resulting in self-parody.”

Then he attacks Dylan’s songwriting: “As a lyricist, he had a tendency to mistake Beat Poet doggerel bathos for profundity.”

By the way, he tells us that Nashville Skyline is his favorite Dylan album. Now there’s nothing wrong with Nashville Skyline, but it’s not Bringing It All Back Home or Highway 61 Revisited or Blonde On Blonde, Dylan’s greatest albums.

Clueless, this guy Berlatsky.

And then he states that the following musicians are “just a few performers influenced by Dylan who are better than he is.”

The list: Jimi Hendrix, Donovan, The Beatles, Johnny Cash, Neil Young, the Velvet Underground, Townes Van Zandt, Joni Mitchell, Sly Stone and the Minutemen,

Now with the exception of Donovan (come on!), that’s a list of heavy hitters. Those are excellent solo artists and bands. But why would you spend your time making claims that they’re better than Bob Dylan.

And why trash Dylan?

This guy Berlatsky reminds me of the squares who just don’t get it. There are always people like that. They’re the ones who don’t want to watch a film if it has subtitles. Who still don’t think hip-hop is music.

We could take one view, and see Berlatsky as one of those squares. But I tend to take a more cynical view. He pulled together his list, spent a half hour cranking out his copy, and voila, a post for Salon sure to draw many curious readers. And gain some notoriety for the writer.

Hopefully, if you do take a look at Berlatsky’s silly post, you’ll have a good laugh and move on down the line. Maybe put on Blonde On Blonde or Bringing It All Back Home and dig on recordings that continue to reveal themselves even after all these years.

I guarantee you that we, you and I, have better things to do than spend another minute on this Berlatsky guy.

— A Days Of The Crazy-Wild blog post —

14 thoughts on “The Rant: Who The Hell Is Noah Berlatsky & Why Is He Trashing Bob Dylan?

  1. Preferring Donovan to Dylan? Hmmm…I guess there are still people out there who think Cliff Richard is preferable to Elvis. I read part of the article but found it so fatuous and self-regarding that I couldn’t go on: life’s too short….

  2. Dylan even described Berlatsky before he came around as someone who is:
    ‘trying to get you in the hole that he’s in’

    enough said…
    Hendrix would turn over in his grave if he knew he was used to downgrade his fellow artist…

    1. The guy who wrote the article is obviously a jerk. I have no interest in reading that kind of incendiary crap on the internet. Those types of articles remind me of flaming bags of dog shit, left on fans’ virtual doorsteps – then we read said articles, and it’s as if we’re stomping out so many smoldering bags of shitty, baseless criticisms.

      And somebody has to say something, right? We can’t just let Berlatsky get away with insulting Bob Dylan on the internet. It all becomes a vicious cycle. There’s always some Berlatsky rearing his ugly, critical head on the internet.

      Anyway, as much as I don’t care for the things Berlatsky said in his little computer article, we shouldn’t criticize him for liking “Nashville Skyline,” that’s all I’m sayin’.

  3. Um, aren’t you doing the same thing with Donovan as the Salon writer did with Dylan? Donovan was great, and had close friends in Dylan and the Beatles. Have you ever heard the sessions he did with the Beatles, around the time of the White Album? Great stuff. Have you ever heard his Open Road album? Back in my hippie daze, in the mid-seventies, my friends coveted our copies of it.

    Back to the Salon writer, it seems to me that he’s a fan of such shows as American Idol and The Voice, which I wouldn’t watch if you paid me to. Which is to say that he seems to be excited by musical completion, rather than the simple enjoyment of it. So what if Dylan doesn’t have the guitar skill of Jimi Hendrix, or the music harmonies of the Beatles. What the writer fails to acknowledge is that, given his limitations, Dylan has to work even harder to gain and hold our attention.

    In the documentary The Punk Singer, Kathleen Hanna bemoans the fact that some writers tried to create disharmony between female musicians, such as “Kathleen Hanna hates P.J. Harvey” (which she didn’t). It sold more copies of the rags they were writing for. While it’s somewhat reassuring that this tact isn’t limited to females, it doesn’t make it any less repugnant.

    1. It’s like the whack-a-mole game with those critics on the internet – another one will pop-up somewhere – they’ll always get their hits, on whatever website and/or ego trip they’re trying to promote.

  4. Let’s call it the Weberman Syndrome: trying to get famous on the coattails of someone who actually has some talent when you’ve got none.

  5. We have more important things to do then spend a minute on this guy as you spend no telling how much time on him. LOL!

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