October 19, 2016

"When we first heard this raw, very young, and seemingly untrained voice, frankly nasal, as if sandpaper could sing, the effect was dramatic and electrifying."

"We—my young husband and I—were classical music lovers for whom the arrival each month of chastely spare, black-on-white Musical Heritage Society albums (does anyone now living remember these?) was an exciting event. Bob Dylan seemed to erupt out of nowhere. The genuine power, originality, and heartrending pathos of 'Blowin’ in the Wind,' 'A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall,' 'Masters of War,' 'Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right' were like nothing we’d encountered before."

Wrote Joyce Carol Oates in 2004. I'm reading that now because it's quoted in the Wikipedia article for the David Bowie song "Song for Bob Dylan," which has the similar line "a voice like sand and glue":
I wrote a song for you
About a strange young man called Dylan
With a voice like sand and glue
Some words had truthful vengeance
That could pin us to the floor
Brought a few more people on
And put the fear in a whole lot more

27 comments:

Douggie Tremain said...

http://moonbattery.com/?p=77286 He should get the Nobel prize in ethics!

mezzrow said...

Ah, MHS releases. Haydn (very good Haydn) through an eyedropper.

It was a different world then. Content was hard.

Now we have everything.

tim in vermont said...

Poetry has gone completely off the rails. I like this award as a reminder to people that therapeutic overshares and structureless ramblings are not what poetry has been to mankind for thousands of years, and should become a passed fad.

FullMoon said...

Best singer ever. Way better than Sinatra etc.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

A lot of people seem to think that Bob Dylan is a crappy singer and maybe he is. I'm not qualified to have an opinion in that area, being completely untrained in the musical arts as I am. But from what exposure I had, which was back when I was much younger, that exposure being limited to only the stuff that got radio play and "The Concert for Bangladesh," which I got when it first came out, I thought he was a really, really good singer. Emphatic. Seemed to actually believe in the truth of his music. One of the reasons I never pursued my interest in him was I didn't want to learn too much and end up disappointed.

Terry said...

A. P. Carter (patriarch of CW's Carter Family) got his start in a similar fashion to Dylan, but in the 1920s and 1930s, not the 1950s. Alvin Pleasant Carter Stomped through the mountains, collected folk songs from the sources, edited them and rearranged them to make them more salable for the radio and the record disk.
Without goofy ol' A.P. Carter, there would be no Bob Dylan (I think that Dylan has acknowledged this).

Ignorance is Bliss said...

I keep having dreams
Of pioneers and pirate ships and Bob Dylan
Of people wrapped up tight in the things that will kill them
Of being trapped in a lift plunging straight to the bottom
Of open seas and ways of life we've forgotten
I keep having dreams

Frank Turner - I am Disappeared

Terry said...

tim in vermont said...
Poetry has gone completely off the rails. I like this award as a reminder to people that therapeutic overshares and structureless ramblings are not what poetry has been to mankind for thousands of years, and should become a passed fad.

10/19/16, 6:47 PM


Ginsberg's "Howl" is awful. It's imagery is imprecise in comical, unintended ways.
In the passage below, what, exactly, is it that is ". . . floating \ across the tops of cities contemplating jazz"?

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness,
starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking
for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly
connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night,
who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up smoking
in the supernatural darkness of cold-water flats floating
across the tops of cities contemplating jazz,

dustbunny said...

I think it was quoted in the Scorsese documentary that Dylan's voice is like 'sandpaper to the heart'.

Spencer doorway said...

Bowie is singing in Dylan's voice. Nice compliment.

Unknown said...

I've always loved this Bowie song with nick ronson axe.

rhhardin said...

The Raindrop Prelude was nice in Moonraker, and the Vivaldi Nisi Dominus in Spectre. Dylan never made any impression yet. Of course it's all subjective. Maybe he should be in a Bond film.

Lydia said...

"The three most dispiriting words in the English language are Joyce Carol Oates."--Gore Vidal

K in Colorado said...

Wow, I had forgotten all about the Musical Heritage Society until I read this. That was well over 20 years ago. Now I'll have to google it.

ELC said...

He sings like sandpaper? More like a hinge. I can't listen to him for more than a minute.

Sebastian said...

""The three most dispiriting words in the English language are Joyce Carol Oates."--Gore Vidal" And that's the only statement by V I ever agreed with.

@Tim: "Poetry has gone completely off the rails." But the recent poetry Nobels are very, very good. Milosz, Heaney, Szymbosrka (maybe "structureless" by your standards, but hardly "rambling"), Brodsky: all great and serious. Paz I know less well, but seems at least close. Walcott is perhaps not quite on the same level, but Omeros is hardly structureless rambling. I don't know Dylan's oeuvre and can't judge it in toto, but the examples provided in the recent celebrations seem, as poetry, not in the same league as the best of the others.

BN said...

Back away from the ledge.

I keep telling myself.

Just back away from the ledge.

Slowly.

That's it. That's it.

Just back away.

One more Dylan post, I swear...

dustbunny said...

There are never enough Dylan posts!

traditionalguy said...

Bowie got it. Dylan's genius changed pop culture forever.

And I take it that all those with the delicate ears out there also cannot bear to listen to the horrible noise emitted by Nasty Hillary Robot.

BN said...

"There are never enough Dylan posts!"

Jump! Jump! Jump! they cried.

BN said...

Something's happening here, but you don't know what it is, do you?

Kirk Parker said...

"Ah, MHS releases."

Indeed! Some of the best ones turned out to be ones I got by accident (because I forgot to decline them.)

Earnest Prole said...

Like a corkscrew to the heart

SF said...

Someone seriously asked in 2004 if anyone now living remembered MHS? I got a fair number of CDs from them, which means they were still active into the 90s... (Might still be, for all I know.)

Kirk Parker said...

SF:

If only there were some way to find out.

Andrew said...

Two guys that write great lyrics that can't sing, Dylan and Young.

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