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 —