Enough! Bob Dylan has just tossed the final straw onto my music library’s back. For years now, I’ve been discovering that, rather than created by the act I knew as its author, song after song had been spawned by Bob Dylan years before I was born. In quiet, desperate disbelief I’ve been listening to Bob Dylan dismantle my musical reality.
What happened? For sentimental reasons I bought the Siouxsie and the Banshees’ compilation Twice Upon a Time/The Singles, where I was delighted to hear “This Wheel’s on Fire”, the title song from the wacky British comedy show “Absolutely Fabulous”. It made perfect sense for Siouxsie the Brit to author the song. Then, months later, I learned “Wheels” was actually Bob’s, and the neat song order crumbled.
This crushing blow is but the latest in a series. The seemingly short list encompasses a lifetime, obliterated by Bob Dylan’s giant presence:
- “This Wheel’s on Fire” by the Siouxsie and the Banshees: Ab Fab, I loved you.
- “Like a Rolling Stone” by the Rolling Stones: You guys are dead to me. You know whom to thank.
- “Knockin on Heaven’s Door” by the Guns N’ Roses: There goes high school…
- “All Along the Watchtower” by Jimi Hendrix: Now only Foxy Lady enveloped in a Purple Haze remains of Jimi.
- “Highway 61 Revisited” by PJ Harvey: No more does “50ft Queenie” reign with an iron fist.
- “Mr. Tambourine Man” by the Byrds: I really wanted to like the 1960’s.
Siouxsie and the Banshees, “This Wheel’s on Fire”, on Twice Upon a Time/The Singles
As if this wasn’t enough, Bob Dylan stalks through references in many other songs. His shadow haunts me more than “Sad Keanu”, “Nope Just Chuck Testa”, and“They See Me Rollin'” combined.
- “Subterranean Homesick Alien” by the Radiohead
- “Shakespeare’s Sister” by The Smiths
- “Fizzy” by The Jesus and Mary Chain
- “Highway Chile” by the Jimi Hendrix Experience
- “We Didn’t Start the Fire” by Billy Joel
- “Song for Bob Dylan” by David Bowie
- “Give Peace a Chance” by John Lennon
- “Me and Bobby D” by Everything But The Girl
- “Right Here Right Now” by Jesus Jones
There’s more at the Neverending Pool and the Barf List (ha!), but luckily, my music library has limits.
Oh, sweet ignorance. All of these songs—and no doubt many future ones—would have been just fine, and I with them. Now all I’ll think about when they come on shuffle or the radio is Bob. The bands themselves have been tainted.
It hurts and it’s personal. Bob Dylan is making me think everything’s a remake: I now doubt the originality of every song, wondering who its real author is. I look over my ear, half-expecting to see Bob. This is no way to listen to music; this is no way to live.
Where will this end? What begins where Bob Dylan ends? Does he even end anywhere? What song has Bob Dylan ruined for you?
Image credit: Mac(3)
It is amazing that for a guy who is oftentimes difficult to listen to and for many, always unlistenable, he was nearly as influential on Western culture as the Beatles and in fact WAS an influence on the Beatles.
Can’t say I’m a HUGE Dylan fan but I have a tremendous amount of respect for him and what he did. If he is a puzzle to you (as he was to me for many years) I HIGHLY recommend the documentary ‘No Direction Home’.
It really gives an understanding of how and why he became the cultural phenomenon he is and was.
I have an older friend who was there back in the day and in response to my inquiries as to why he was/is so revered he said, “Dude, you just had to be there. He was just undeniably cool.” That film takes you there.
@keith andrew: Thanks for the movie tip!