Saturday, October 16, 2010

Bob Dylan is a TERRIBLE harmonica player!

I am sitting around listening to Bob Dylan and frittering my time away. Is this normal? I don't know why, but I felt inspired to say a few words about the most prolific songwriter in the world. Actually there could be someone out there who has written more, but I find it hard to believe. It seems like old man Dylan actually wrote every song. I don't even know if they had songs before he came along. In fact that was not the first thing I wanted to talk about. What inspired me was his voice. I understand how people can hate his singing. I think that his voice matches his songs perfectly. On a lot of songs, especially those influenced by the blues, I think he does the best versions. At the same time it makes a lot of sense that people despise his nasally singing. The thing that I find amazing is that people actually think that he is playing his harmonicas! I guess that makes sense, if blowing and drawing as fast as you can is playing than so be it. But for all the time he has spent playing with world class musicians I would think that Bob would at least try to play well. He claims that Little Walter taught him how to play, and I am guessing that he failed his class. Little Walter is a legend of the blues, Bod Dylan is a terrible, and world famous "harmonica player". He makes noise, and that is all. It is so atrocious that I have been forced to fast forward through some of his more lengthy "solos" so I can get to his music and lyrics. Since I play harmonica, and yes, I am far better than Bob, I have to talk to people about him quite often. Since most people have no idea how to play a harmonica well, it is typical to have this conversation "Oh you play guitar and harmonica at the same time? Like Bob Dylan?" Usually I can switch quickly to talk about Neil Young or someone else who is actually good at it, but I have gotten into a few arguments from which there is no escaping. Many times people can't understand how I can like Bob Dylan (probably more than they do actually!) yet despise his "playing". I don't like trying to "convince" them that I have studied and played the harmonica for 12 years, and am in demand as a player. That just seems rude and arrogant. But at the same time it is true. The simple fact is that I know a lot more about that particular than a lot of people. I also know a lot less about it than a lot of people. When I took lessons from Seattle blues legend Grant Dermody, I got schooled. Every time I got a lesson. But I also practiced a couple hours a day (this was before I got a facebook profile). To bring it all together, I am not trying to convince you, it is fairly obvious, Bob Dylan is an awful harmonica "player", he has written some of the best songs in the last hundred years, he is an excellent guitar player, he is a good piano player, but when it comes to harmonicas, he should hire a good harmonica player. Actually I do have a pet theory. I believe that he is trying to see just how bad he can play and still have people convinced that he is amazing. I actually did some of this during the summer, kind of seeing how weird I could dress and still have women faint at the sight of me. In fact I remember posing with an entire cheerleading team, while wearing a fanny pack. It was hilarious. I can imagine Dylan laughing with his band backstage while they are joking about some "epic solo" that he just foisted on his adoring fans. Well, I must be off, I just thought I would share a little from my end of the world. I hope you don't get mad because I am right. It would just be lame. I am wrong a lot of course, but I have really only heard Dylan play decently on a few albums. One being "Blood on the Tracks",at which point he had been playing music for ALMOST TWENTY YEARS!. Well that's all I have for now. Buzzsaw signing off.


  1. Grant Dermody!
    Fanny packs must be handy for harmonica packing

  2. Dude, check out his 1966 Royal Albert Hall version of Tambourine Man - if you haven't heard it. Pretty sweet harp on that. I agree, in general though. Read an article after his Christmas album came out that basically said that current Dylan fans are the battered wives of music fans. They keep coming back for more.