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The better songwriter: Bob Dylan or Paul Simon?

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Showing 326-350 of 423 posts in this discussion
In reply to an earlier post on Jun 7, 2012 6:53:13 PM PDT
ronct says:
W. David English,

I was aware of Ira, and my point is it is George Gershwin (the music) who is best known. Sorry, I wasn't clear when I stated Gershwin. I'm not saying people don't remember lyrics because they do when they are placed in music that is worth remembering.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 7, 2012 7:05:31 PM PDT
I agree about Peter,Paul & Mary. Back in probably 1962 (summer) we all went to Cape Cod for the weekend and happen to go to a concert of theirs. I loved it so much and will always remember what Mary wore down to every detail,. She became my fashion idol. Then sometime later we saw Joan Baez who also became so important to me. Sshe was the one who finally got Dylan out in front of the public. As far as I can tell, no one really talks about her in these discussions. But it just fell into place for me and I'm so glad it did.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 7, 2012 7:18:54 PM PDT
It's interesting---Peter Paul & Mary were put together in a very deliberate way. You had a good-looking guy who did most of the introductions, you had the comedian, and you had the silent gorgeous blond. Mary rarely spoke on stage. They disagree on who came up with the idea, but the reason was not that women have nothing to say or that blonds are dim---they wanted to add a touch of mystery.

It occurs to me now that they did something similar to what the Beatles did. The Beatles had long hair, but wore suits. This made them more palatable, and they got access to places they wouldn't have had access to otherwise, like the Ed Sullivan show. Peter and Paul wore Maynard G. Krebs goatees, and they could have gone all-Maynard and worn sweatshirts and jeans and the like, like many folk musicians did, but they wore suits. Mary wore nice dresses. So they weren't beatniks or slobs, and so they could go on TV without alienating people unnecessarily. Just as a lot of people then equated rock and roll with Satan, they equated folk music with Communism.....but some compromising in the grooming and stage costume department helped smooth the way for both groups.

Posted on Jun 7, 2012 9:43:10 PM PDT
alysha25 says:
"D. Mok says:

> People assume it's about the character in "The Graduate", but it's not.

Heck, no. It was written before The Graduate, anyway. The original title was "Mrs. Roosevelt". And the song is cryptic enough to fit the character in The Graduate well, but when you look at the lyrics, it's actually very oblique about what exactly the deal is with Mrs. Roosevelt/Robinson. Which I personally like -- ambiguity means more hidden layers. I think it's more about an eccentric woman of mystery than about an object of desire. In fact, I never researched the song, but the Joe DiMaggio reference might actually imply a Marilyn Monroe connection."

The full song "Mrs. Robinson" was actually not even in the movie "The Graduate". I have "The Graduate" soundtrack , which I got for $5 somewhere. The album has "Scarborough fair/Cantacle" in it's full form. But as for the tune "Mrs. Robinson" there's a short instrumental version only. In the movie the main character hears the tune playing to denote Mrs. Robinson. I guess people get peeved when they buy the soundtrack and find out "Mrs. Robinson isn't on there. But I kind-of like the soundtrack. Also it has a different song , also instrumental with an orchestra that denotes the vapid shallowness of Mrs. R , and the 1950's.

The full song was written After the movie, or at least was released after the movie, and was a big hit then. I also really like the Lemonheads version!

Posted on Jun 7, 2012 10:01:32 PM PDT
Dr. Mikey says:
"Bess, you is my woman now."

Posted on Jun 8, 2012 3:54:36 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Jun 14, 2012 7:14:02 AM PDT]

Posted on Jun 8, 2012 11:02:13 AM PDT
Dr. Mikey says:
Good question, Kopp. Hibbing, Minnesota is mighty close to Canada, and I'm sure there have never been any good songwriters from Canada.

Posted on Jun 8, 2012 11:38:48 AM PDT
Folks, folks, folks.....

Canada is in North America, last time I looked. So Leonard Cohen could be the Great American Songwriter. Or Joni Mitchell or Robbie Robertson or Neil Young or Gordon Lightfoot.

Antonio Carlos Jobim was from Brazil. South America. So maybe it's he!!!

Posted on Jun 8, 2012 11:43:28 AM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Jun 8, 2012 12:18:15 PM PDT]

Posted on Jun 8, 2012 12:13:39 PM PDT
John Prine.

Posted on Jun 8, 2012 12:15:30 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Jun 14, 2012 7:13:40 AM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 8, 2012 12:20:06 PM PDT
JNagarya says:
Dylan made such as Paul Simon, Billy Joel, and Bruce Springsteen possible. Before Dylan, he and Garfunkel were 1950s-style "girl-boy" pop-"rock".

The idea that one can equate a Paul Simon with Dylan (who Simon worships) is absurd.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 8, 2012 12:25:45 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 8, 2012 12:37:22 PM PDT
JNagarya says:
But in "Idiot Wind" Dylan includes himself when he writes,

"Idiot wind/Blowing through the buttons of OUR coats
"Idiot wind, blowing through the letters that WE wrote,"

and as final verse,

"We are idiots, babe/It's a wonder we can even feed ourselves."

And at that point the tome of his singing -- Dylan is a great _singer_, and the sound of his voice is perffectly suited to his material -- changes to sad, understanding, compassionate, and perhaps even forgiving.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 8, 2012 12:28:03 PM PDT
JNagarya says:
If one listens closely to the "Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover" LP, one can hear Simon's unmistakable worshipping at the altar of Paul McCartney. For that reason Simon is a minor songwriter: he copies, and is unable to hide his influences.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 8, 2012 12:33:17 PM PDT
JNagarya says:
"Peter Paul & Mary were put together in a very deliberate way."

They were put together by Albert Grossman.

Posted on Jun 8, 2012 12:54:35 PM PDT
That's right. Grossman saw them as the most possible commercial folk entity. And they were---they sold a lot more records than Dylan. That's to be expected, his voice was never going to be accepted by everyone, but PP&M had a very smooth blend.

Posted on Jun 8, 2012 1:55:27 PM PDT
Bronx Guy says:
Jerome Kern, when asked to rate American songwriters, is reputed to have said, "There is everyone else and there is Irving Berlin".
Bob Dylan is the greatest American songwriter since Irving Berlin.
Since the question posted solicits opinions regarding "songwriters", not "singers", further discussion is moot.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 8, 2012 2:43:31 PM PDT
W David,
Peter, Paul, and Mary "sold a lot more records than Dylan". That was when Dylan was only known in the folk scene. Once Dylan went electric he sold far more records than PP and M.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 8, 2012 6:42:51 PM PDT
John Connolly:

I'm not sure. PP& M's first few albums were charttoppers, or in the top ten. I'm not sure Dylan, at the time, achieved that level of sales. Over time, his albums have probably sold more.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 8, 2012 8:07:06 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 8, 2012 8:07:46 PM PDT
ronct says:
Huh??? Irving Berlin was a great musical composer Dylan wrote average melodies at best. How can you even put them in the same sentence?

Posted on Jun 9, 2012 5:02:44 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 9, 2012 7:44:31 AM PDT
D. Mok says:
> Irving Berlin was a great musical composer Dylan wrote average melodies at best.

Because most people don't dig very deep into melody and harmony. They can't tell you why they think a melody is good. Hence all of Dylan's more repetitive or derivative melodies (especially the blues stuff) just fly right over their heads. Bob Dylan's sense of harmony is certainly less interesting than, say, Jerry Cantrell's or Tim Hardin's, or Robbie Robertson's, or Neil Young's. No, Bob Dylan shouldn't be uttered in the same sentence as Irving Berlin, when talking strictly about melody.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 9, 2012 7:33:43 AM PDT
I would say Irving Berlin was our best melodist. And he was our best songwriter who wrote both the songs and the words. Cole Porter was wittier in terms of lyrics, but Berlin was a superior melodist. But it is a very close race.

And Berlin wins when you rank the two in terms of emotional content. Porter wasn't the guy to go to if you wanted a simple but heartfelt expression of devotion, like "Always". Porter couldn't have written a heartbreaking song like "Suppertime". But Berlin couldn't have come up with "Let's Do It" or "Let's Misbehave". He wasn't quite that clever, that mischievous. I'm just glad we have so many songs from both of them.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 9, 2012 10:00:55 AM PDT
ronct says:
Great post and I agree with your observation of the songwriting skills of both composers. I feel Paul McCartney is a modern day hybrid version of both. In a fairly recent Rolling Stone (2006?) interview Dylan stated he was in awe of McCartney because he made it difficult for all other songwriters.

Posted on Jun 9, 2012 1:15:43 PM PDT
Dr. Mikey says:
Paul doesn't always write the best lyrics, though he hits enough home runs to take note, but as a melodist, he is the best in my lifetime, at least. And perhaps he does surpass the other greats like Berlin, Cole Porter, Hoagy Carmichael, and G. Gershwin, or at least he's competitive.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 9, 2012 3:25:41 PM PDT
customer says:
Mr. English;
In your post from June 1, 2012, you mentioned a "good book about music and the brain" that talked about the importance of timbre.
Could you give us the title and author of that book?
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Discussion in:  Music forum
Participants:  85
Total posts:  423
Initial post:  May 28, 2012
Latest post:  Jun 24, 2012

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