S02.11 What Dylan Took From Early Rock & Roll – Song & Dance Man Ch.3 – With Michael Gray
During Bob Dylan’s formative years, he was significantly influenced by the rock music landscape of the mid-1950s. In this conversation with author Michael Gray, he delves into how prominent artists of that era left a mark on Dylan’s musical journey. From legends like Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry to the iconic Buddy Holly and Fats Domino, their impact on Dylan’s craft is unmistakable. In particular, Presley’s reinterpretations of old blues material offered Dylan a fresh perspective, while Holly’s artistic approach was another source of inspiration.
Bob Dylan’s influence wasn’t limited to just rock music. He artfully fused folk, literature, and rock and roll, carving out a unique genre that stood out. More than just a musician, Dylan was astute in crafting his image. He possessed an innate sense to maintain a distance from television, ensuring that his image remained enigmatic and true to his identity.
Reflecting on Dylan’s illustrious career, it’s evident that while luck played its part, it was paired with genuine talent and dedication. His legacy isn’t just about the accolades and respect he garnered over the years, but also the personal hurdles, tragedies, and losses he faced. As a tribute to this legend, readers and fans can now access the 50th-anniversary edition of “Song and Dance Man, The Art of Bob Dylan,” available both in paperback and Kindle.
Early Influences on Bob Dylan
- Bob Dylan was born at the perfect time to be influenced by Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, and Buddy Holly.
- He stretched and bent words to make rhymes that he first heard from Fats Domino.
- Rock and Roll became pop music and then eventually rock music in the early 70s.
- Dylan had an electric guitar before he sold it to go into folk music.
- He learned lessons from Fats Domino, Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, and Buddy Holly about idiosyncratic flexibility in lyrics, particularly in rhymes through odd emphasis and pronunciation.
Transition to Folk Music
- Bob Dylan had an electric guitar before he sold it to go into folk music, which was an opportunistic thing happening in the village.
- He was listening to soft, boring pop on the radio in 1959 and 1960, and when he heard folk music he realized there was more to it than one o’clock, two o’clock, three o’clock rock.
- Dylan took influence from Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, and Buddy Holly.
- Elvis Presley’s voice had nobility and a clear charismatic rarity to which a generation rallied and felt uplifted.
- Buddy Holly had control and precision in his music, which Dylan learned from.
Maintaining Relevance and Adaptation
- Bob Dylan was labeled as a relic in 1978, but still managed to draw thousands of people to his performances.
- He has always been able to cultivate scarcity and maintain an unattainable image.
- Dylan has adapted to the changing times by responding to the internet and bootlegs.
- His music is good enough to pull people without needing to do other promotional activities.
Unique Blend of Influences and Personal Experiences
- The combination of folk, literature, and rock have all influenced Bob Dylan’s work and allowed him to create something new.
- He has had great timing and luck throughout his career, while also suffering personal tragedies and losses.