Who's Bob Dylan?

March 17, 2008
By Catherine Gasaway, Mabelvale, AR

Ask me who my favorite band is. Who my favorite singer is. Go on; ask me.

I'll give you generic answers expected from someone considering herself reasonably knowledgeable in music: the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Regina Spektor, Dave Matthews Band, John Mayer, Jason Mraz, jamisonparker, Radiohead, Snow Patrol, Death Cab for Cutie, The Arcade Fire, The Rasmus, Train, Coldplay, Lily Allen, The Plain White T's, Ben Harper...the list goes on and on. Fergie even makes it somewhere on it.

Then I'll give you a few more. Jim Croce, James Taylor, Bob Dylan: folk music at its best. Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Waylong Jennings: the Highwaymen. Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, Ray Charles: the heart of soul. Janis Joplin, James Brown, Jimi Hendrix, the Mamas and the Papas, The Band. On and on and on. These artists are the initiators of entire genres of music and the average teen won't have heard of half of them.

I was sitting in the journalism room a few months ago. More than half of the journalism kids were gone to Philadelphia. I had my work done; I had my stories written. So I propped up my feet, set my i-Tunes on shuffle (starting with A Fine Frenzy) and cracked open a book: Bob Dylan: Intimate Insights. I found myself wrapped up in his open-minded commentary and the memories of those artists closest to the publicity shy man when I was ripped, without mercy and without warning, from my happy place.

"Who's Bob Dylan? Is he a real person?"

I stared, astonished, at the person from whom this question had so unceremoniously exploded. Bob Dylan. An artist at the forefront of folk music. An artist who went on to influence Jimi Hendrix and The Beatles. I looked closely to see if she was kidding, hoping at any minute to hear laughter escaping from her mouth, a joke. But the laughter didn't come; she was serious.

Teens like to act like they're music experts...but where did that music come from? Where did that rap blaring through our car speakers or the country music that can be heard through walls or rock music that inspires us to break out the air guitar come from? I saw people rocking out at an Emery concert; I wonder if any of them know Emery was influenced by Queen? I wonder if hardcore fans of the Red Hot Chili Peppers know that Anthony Kiedis was influenced by rap, rock, and soul sources in the form of Grandmaster Flash, Led Zeppelin and Stevie Wonder? I wonder if country fans realize the extent of Merle Haggard's influence on Toby Keith.

We, as music lovers, need to broaden our horizons. Check out Aretha Franklin singing Pavarotti's opera at the 1998 Grammy Awards. Look into the influences of your favorite artists. Look into the history of your favorite genre of music. If teens wants to be able to say the "know" music, know it.

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This article has 2 comments.

Woolf SILVER said...
on Jun. 10 2014 at 4:52 pm
Woolf SILVER, Raleigh, North Carolina
6 articles 0 photos 3 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Sure you can teach people to be beautiful, but don't you know that there is a force greater than you that teaches them to be gullible?" ~ Bob Dylan

It's not just older music that teens need to broaden their horizons on. Classically great art, films, and litrature need to be brought into this uncultured generation. I'm tired of being called "retro" or "a hipster" just because I listen to The Beatles or Bob Dylan, or read Kerouac and Burrough, and watch David Lynch films. People my age with the same interests, don't worry. You're not "born in the wrong generation" as they say. You're just cooler than a lot of other people your age :)

Molly said...
on May. 22 2011 at 5:02 pm
I am apparently an old age teenager. This article is very accurate, but it greatly concerns me that I know much more about the music of the older artists above than the newer ones. I haven't even heard of half the newer ones. Ok, my favourite artists are Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and Pink Floyd (not to mention Chuck Berry and Big Bill Broonzy e.t.c.) but still, why don't I know more about these people? I fear I was born old. 

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