Bob Dylan is one of the most influential singer-songwriters in history. Today, I’m taking a closer look at the origins of Bob Dylan’s songs from his first studio album.
In the hopes of uncovering and dispelling certain myths about Bob Dylan, we’ll look at six songs that launched his career. By the end, we’ll hopefully be able to answer whether Bob Dylan stole these songs to launch his career.
I have a feeling you might have an opinion on this matter, so be sure to leave a comment below!
In addition to talking about Bob Dylan, you’ll also be looking at Lowden F50 courtesy of Heartbreaker Guitars down in Las Vegas. Brendan, owner of Heartbreaker Guitars, will be going over specs and showing you exactly why this guitar is the Heartbreaker Guitar of the Month.
Finally, be sure to take some time to reflect on your guitar influences. You never know what truly inspires you day in and day out.
As always, you can watch Acoustic Tuesday at 10 am every Tuesday in these four places:
- Acoustic Life YouTube channel
- We Play Every Day Facebook Community
- Get show notes emailed directly to your inbox.
- Listen to audio-only below or in iTunes
This Week on Acoustic Tuesday
My Bob Dylan countdown was purely born out of curiosity.
I remember falling in love with his first album. His voice and sincerity were unbelievable.
But as I grew older and wiser, I started to notice that most of the songs that really made Bob Dylan famous in those early years were covers.
That led me to ask, “Did Bob Dylan steal those songs???”
Fortunately, I’ve given this a lot of thought and am excited to share my findings with you!
So without further ado, let’s get started on the six songs that Bob Dylan may or may not have stolen!
By the way…if you want to purchase the album in questions, here’s a link.
6: “Song to Woody”
Bob Dylan was a huge fan of folk musician, artist, and writer Woody Guthrie. In fact, Bob Dylan went so far as to style himself after Woody Guthrie. In paying tribute to Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan wrote “Song to Woody,” one of the few originals on the self-titled album.
Funny enough, the melody for “Song to Woody” is directly lifted from Woody Guthrie’s song “1913 Massacre.” Did Bob Dylan use the same melody to pay homage to Woody Guthrie? Or, did Bob Dylan decide to lift the melody because it was just that good? Let me know what you think in the comments!
Buy Woody Guthrie’s Albums: https://amzn.to/2Xe1JH7
5: “Highway 51 Blues”
Written by a blues pianist by the name of Curtis Jones, “Highway 51 Blues,” is another song Bob Dylan covered on his self-titled album. Curtis Jones’ vocals and piano playing is spectacular on this song and sounds drastically different from the Bob Dylan cover.
I love listening to an original tune that I’ve only heard covered. “Highway 51 Blues” is no exception. I always thought Bob Dylan wrote this song, but I’m happy to know that the original Curtis Jones song is just as awesome and inspiring — even if it is on piano!
Buy Curtis Jones’ Albums: https://amzn.to/2wheVjt
4: “You’re No Good”
A one-man band rockin’ a twelve-string, Jesse Fuller wrote “You’re No Good.” Like my experience with “Highway 51 Blues,” I came to love and appreciate the original after I started doing this research.
While I can’t feature “You’re No Good” performed by Bob Dylan or Jesse Fuller due to copyright, I can feature Jesse Fuller’s “Railroad Blues.” He is one incredible, driving singer with a classic acoustic blues sound.
Buy Jesse Fuller’s Albums: https://amzn.to/3c1VBWV
3: “In My Time of Dyin'”
While Bob Dylan’s cover of this song is stunning, if you trace it all the way back to the beginning…it’s even more stunning. The earliest recording of this song comes from Blind Willie Johnson.
Blind Willie Johnson has a voice that just sends shivers down your spine. I’ve always loved his voice and I know you NEED to check out his performance of “In My Time of Dyin’.” Bob Dylan’s version is definitely the neater, cleaner, the more commercial sound of what Blind Willie Johnson created and passed on.
Buy Blind Willie Johnson’s Albums: https://amzn.to/2JFTsnD
2: “Fixin’ to Die”
It was sometime in college, when I was maybe 18 or 19, that I first heard this song covered by Bob Dylan. When I heard it, it sounded like Bob Dylan transformed into a completely different person. His singing was just unlike the other songs he played.
As I came back to this song, I discovered that this song was written by Bukka White. I was stunned because Bukka White is such an incredible played that you NEED to check out. With a distinct style and voice, Bukka White is clearly being channeled by Bob Dylan in his cover of “Fixin’ to Die.” Let me know what you think in the comments though!
Buy Bukka White’s Albums: https://amzn.to/34cOLLq
1: “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean”
Written by Blind Lemon Jefferson, this song has become a standard in the American songbook. So many artists have covered this song over the years, and some better than others. To give you a sense of Jefferson’s style, I played “One Dime Blues” for you.
While Bob Dylan’s version of “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean” is similar to Blind Lemon Jefferson’s, it’s just a different version altogether.
Buy Blind Lemon Jefferson’s Albums: https://amzn.to/2VaOe8N
If I missed any tracks, be sure to let me know in the comments! I know there are a lot out there, so chime in with your opinion on Bob Dylan’s work!
So…is Bob Dylan a song thief? No. But follow me down this train of thought: Bob Dylan choosing these songs was a way of him simultaneously honoring and making his mark on the folk world.
Heartbreaker Guitar of the Month: Lowden F-50
To help get out of the cold Bozeman, MT weather I’ve enlisted the Help of Brendan from Heartbreaker Guitars down in Las Vegas.
Today, he’s going to be showing you the Lowden F-50 with an Adirondack Spruce top and Brazilian Rosewood back and sides.
The tone on this guitar is absolutely incredible.
The guitar has a dark and open sound that I absolutely dig. Without geeking out too much, I just can’t describe it in words well.
While this guitar doesn’t have the chatoyance that many other guitars I feature have, the straight grain on the wood is unique in its own right.
Come on Tony ! I really like your show and you, but this is total click bait. If you know anything about folk music ( and I know you do ) you know that the nature of folk is that melodies have been taken and repurposed with new words for centuries. Bob Dylan was very much in this tradition at the beginning of his career.The man is THE GREATEST singer songwriter of all time. He won a Noble Prize for literature for God sake !
Agree w/ all of this. Plus he never claimed to have written those. Also, none of these songs put Dylan on the map. His first album, though I love it, was a total failure when measured by $ made and notoriety.
Hey Tony, I have a CD of the first Dylan album that you are commenting on. The CD gives credit to the songwriters on the tracks. Maybe your album doesn’t?
Credit goes to Dylan for keeping these tunes alive. He didn’t claim he wrote them.
It is fascinating that Dylan’s first album includes only a couple tracks actually written by Bob. What a recording debut for one of the most prolific songwriters of our time! PS. You should re-read the liner notes if you haven’t recently. They are both entertaining and informative.
Surprised you missed off With God on our Side, as it uses the Irish tune made popular in The Patriot Game with no credit…Liam Clancy does the definitive version with his beautiful guitar style…keep up the great work though as I am a big fan of what you do.
FIRST album. If we’re talking Dylan’s entire repertoire, there’re a lot of borrowed tunes from the public domain.
He did steal House of the rising sun
From Dave Van rock though.
Dave Van Ronk, that is…
Tom Ashley recorded that one in 1932 long before Van Ronk and it was probably performed well before his time. Good songs are just played one way or another for ever. Then you have a group like the Animals who made House of the Rising Sun into their own rock song.
Who knows when Bob Dylan at the age of about sixteen nicked a few tunes, in fact who cares? He certainly didn’t nick any of the four or five hundred wonderful, sad, happy, insightful, soulful, prophetic, exciting, funny, mournful, delightful, I could go on, works of beautiful genius he has written since. They’ll be saying he fiddled his well deserved Nobel prize for literature next. Wonder who he nicked the album ‘Time Out Of Mind ‘ from? Pshaw!!!!!!!!and Phoooey!
Well that is what all the folk singers did at that time! (Joan Baez ect,,) They were playing old songs thats why the name folk. Dillion changed after that because folk went out and more heavy rock came in. He developed his own style further.
I think they were mimics of whatever they were singing I ‘m a thief and I did it. They say that Rambling Jack Eliott was a perfect mime of Woody.
Tony, I’m a hopeless Dylan fan, but I believe you’re right on with your take on Dylan. The early Dylan was more like “honoring” these great artists, than stealing from them. T.S. Elliot said “Good artists copy; great artists steal.” Even so, I consider Song to Woody as almost a love song, giving back to Woody admiration and gratitude in Woody’s own melody. And if anyone begrudges Dylan for “borrowing” the songs for his first album, just take a look at his second album. The Freewheelin Bob Dylan is a collection of original songwriting masterpieces unmatched in American music
Were the two signers that had “Blind” in their name, really Blind???
While I’m not a subscriber, I receive your emails and follow your site and posts with delight, and have a deep appreciation for your curiosity, knowledge, and passion. Your Dylan segment peaked my interest as a life-long Dylan-freak (Bobcat, if you will). I appreciate your conclusion that Dylan was telegraphing his influences and aligning himself with the extant “folk tradition” in which songs were freely covered, and “new” songs derived from pre-existing melodies, etc. The “mistake” (if I may be so bold) that you make in your premise is that Dylan the artist/songwriter can be judged by his first LP. (Perhaps only hyperbole to stir the pot and catch the interest of a reader/viewer?) The reason being is that Dylan only claimed to write two of the thirteen songs on his eponymous LP. On his second release, “Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan” the tables turn with only two covers, and the rest original – including “Blowin’ In The Wind.” Perhaps it would be more fitting to assess the quality of his covers, which you do very well. His overwhelming passion, vocal gymnastics, and playing make the listener sit up and take notice of this fresh-faced talent. We can observe a similar trajectory with The Beatles and their first releases loaded with covers.
What Dylan fans understand is that while Dylan covering other artists’ songs began with his debut LP, it has remained a constant theme in his entire output (“Self-Portrait (1970),” “Good As I Been To You (1992),” “World Gone Wrong (1993),” and the most recent three LPs (2015-17) are all covers – “S.P.” does have a few Dylan originals.)
What fascinates me (and many other Bobcats), is to hear HOW he lifts/steals/borrows in order to connect what he is doing now to the history of music. His “Basement Tapes” (1967-8) have offered us dozens of songs to source, and this “treasure hunt” has spawned some great books. Dylan is known for having an unparalleled and encyclopedic knowledge of recorded music, and it becomes a delightful game to chase his sources (as you have discovered and presented in this edition of A.T.). The playlists in the 100 episodes of his radio show “Bob Dylan’s Theme Time Radio” give but a hint as to the scope of his knowledge. What’s clear is that this is who he is as an artist, and that he stands on the shoulders of those who came before him, as we stand on his, to view a seemingly infinite musical landscape.
Many artist have riffed on this essential idea. Goethe said “If you see a great master, you will always find that he used what was good in his predecessors, and that it was this which made him great.” Stravinsky said “A good composer does not imitate; he steals.” T.S. Eliot and Picasso are also known for similar statements.
To demonstrate the a similar borrowing as “Song To Woody/1913 Massacre” I’ll leave you with this incredible “lift” from his more recent masterpiece “Love & Theft” (the title references a study of minstelry and suggests of declaration of Bob’s lifelong modus operandi).
“Uncle John’s Bongos” by Johnny & Jack (1961) becomes “Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum” (2001)
(I can’t seem to post the studio version here, which is practically a copy of the music, sound, and arrangement, so a live version will have to suffice – copyright issues I suspect)
Folks with Spotify can hear the original here
Thank you for inspiring new players like me, and I look forward to your weekly segments.
I think you missed the song that was stolen from Paul Clayton. One of Dylan’s more famous songs, “Don’t think twice, its all right” is obviously theft of Paul Clayton’s song “Who’s gonna buy you ribbons when I’m gone.”
I’m a 1st time watcher of Acoustic Tuesday Loved it, thanks Tony. My 3 guitar heroes are John Denver, (This Old Guitar still breaks my heart), John Stewart( Mother Country, )and Gordon Lightfoot(Canadian Railroad Trilogy)
You can’t “steal” a blues song. Blues belongs to the people, and every blues tune has been covered by hundreds of different musicians.
Only three, huh? First, to the group that started me on my guitar journey, The Beatles, so that would be John Lennon. Second, several years later in an alternate universe, Pink Floyd, so that would be David Gilmour. Thirdly (but not lastly) Gary Moore, nothing else to say here.
Tony, the list would have been a bit easier if you had said, “name your top fifteen…”
I started my guitar journey later in life, after retirement. Always wanted to play from a young age but was always involved in sports and just not enough time. My guitar(s) have helped me continue to use my mind and creativity. I would like to thank my top three influences in my guitar journey, they are: in no particular order!!!
Don Self a cousin and good friend who played in a band at a young age and assured me if he could do it I could.
A youth minister at my church Tommy Doughty. And a really neat guitar geek who has great online show with a ton of great information and resources, Tony Polecastro.
Thanks for what you do.
It wasn’t so much that Dylan wanted to play ‘John Birch’ as that he wouldn’t let CBS censor him. He was standing up for free speech by not allowing them to ‘sanitize’ him for the network audience.
Hi Tony – great show, love the Dylan dive. However, another $10,000 guitar? How many of us are really in the market for such a piece? It’s beautiful, but I have a tough time justifying someone charging that kind of money for a fairly plain guitar.
Sorry Tony – I didn’t actually look at the Heartbreaker site – it’s actually almost $20K???
There are a zillion great guitarists who inspire me, but my one and only Guitar Hero is my older brother… though he probably doesn’t know it He encouraged me to start playing and introduced me to folk music & the blues; took me to see Doc Watson, Bill Monroe, Pete Seeger, Josh White and others… all about 40-45 years ago.
Dylan beyond being an amazing writer is also an amazing music historian. If you haven’t heard it, listen to Good As I Been To You. He covers traditntal folk song standards. He even does Stephen Foster. It’s one of my favorites. I’m a big fan. Unfortunately the guys voice is totally blown now. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Good_as_I_Been_to_You
Bob Dylan was and is all about what he wants you to think and uses enough facts and sprinklings of downright lies and manipulations to get you there. Be it “civil rights” songs or whatever to further his personal career. Though I love his music I don’t care for him as a person. It’s too bad that people looked to him for how they should think and act.
He is great and terrible all at the same time.
To be honest, I’m not a huge Bob Dylan fan (Yes, I know that’s blasphemy!) and don’t think he’s nearly the best singer/songwriter of his time. (I’d take the late John Prine, for one, over Dylan. Harry Chapin, Jim Croce, James Taylor & Joni Mitchell also come to mind.) My favorite Dylan is the early stuff, when he was a singing traditional songs and trying his best to emulate Woody Guthrie and Ramblin’ Jack Elliot. My favorite album? The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. Check it out.
Three heroes: Doc Watson, Mississippi John Hurt and Jim Wall. No mystery on the first two. Jim Wall was a mentor, friend and inspiration for me. Former Marine, Highway patrolman, guitar teacher and magnificent story teller. RIP Jim.
Just started your TAC approach and loving it Tony. Thanks so much
Outstanding Lowden guitar!!!
Do you know Tom Poley? Singer Songwriter, banjo & guitar player in the Arizona West.
Good example: Flatten the Curve
It Can’t be repeated enough, so I will still do that. Dylan gives Full Credit to the composers, lyricists etc. for All of the songs mentioned!! *That* totally ends this ‘subject’ don’tchathunk?
Except, that is, for ‘Woody Guthrie’, who ‘Dylan’ obviously and totally Openly ‘Loved’ ? Dylan ‘copied’ Woody in voice, style, song material (in his early days??) and *Everything* else! Any ‘resemblance’ to *Any* of Woody Guthrie’s songs (especially when Many tunes in Folk and Blues Are Very Similar ) …’I’ Choose to ‘interpret’ as *Unworthy of discussion* ! A lot like: Heh! “Englebert ‘copied’ “Tom Jones”, Heh Heh.
Fun, interesting and informative as ever Tony…Great idea to give that first Dylan album a deep dive, you’ve given me a whole different perspective on how to listen to it…And I’m stoked to hear more Blind Willie Johnson, of all the artists you mentioned he’s the one I’d never heard of…
Having to choose 3 is tough but to complete the assignment I’d say
My Uncle Gene, who passed earlier this year at 89, has to get an honorable mention, he was a huge influence on all the musicians – guitar players in particular – in our family growing up…Despite suffering with severe macular degeneration the last few years of his life he continued to play his guitar…He’ll always be our hero
Well, I used to hang out at Gerdes Folk City which was a hangout for many of the folk performers of the very early 1960’s
so I saw Bob when he first started performing there at the Monday night Hoots. Almost everyone who performed at those hoots were doing the songs of earlier performers. Blues and Folk mostly so everyone was doing songs written well before
they were born. Bob specialized in Woody Guthrie songs and that’s the way Brother John Sellers the MC used to introduce him. “Here’s Bobby Dylan he sings Woody Guthrie songs”. To my ears and many others Bob sounded very authentic doing these songs and within about six months of coming to NYC he met John Hammond and was given a contract with Columbia Records which upset a lot of the older players who thought they should have a chance at recording. His first album was very much like the stuff he performed at Gerdes. Only one original song, “Song to Woody’ which he did as an homage to to Woody in Woody’s style. He had not at that time truly embraced his own style and the album was not a success but he was already starting to write and the next album featured his own writing but the songs themselves used melody’s borrowed from old songs many of them Irish melody’s. Where he had gotten the idea to do this was from Woody himself who used borrowed melody’s from old songs and although his writing was original most of his melody’s were not. The older the performer the more they took very old songs and rewrote them to fit their lyrics. Bob was actually sued by Jean Richie for taking a melody she had copyrighted that was an old English song. Bob lost the case. Jean Richie had traveled around looking for these old songs and when she found them she copyrighted them. A.P Carter did much the same and many if not all of the carter Family songs were songs that A.P. had found in his travels around the Appalachians. At the time (60’s) many referred to this as the “folk Process”. A good example in Dylan’s case is in “Girl from the North Country” which shares the opening verses almost exactly with Scarborough Fair. “Remember me to one who lives there. She was once a true love of mine” in Scarborough Fair and “Remember me to one who lives there. She once was a true love of mine” in Girl from….Melody is different but the words are the same. I could give you many song examples from that era that used this same method. Dylan was an avid researcher haunting Izzy Young’s Folklore Center hunting for old songs and melody’s. I think the best way to look at his early work is to see that he was a synthesizer with an incredible memory and he used a lot of the stuff he had found in both his early work and his later work especially using the names of old songs and people in those songs in his new songs. But to sum up it is my opinion that no one can truly doubt his creativity and originality.
James Taylor because he’s always been played in the house as I grew up. John Denver because he was on TV when I was very young and I tried so hard to play his songs…and the modern era…John Mayer…he plays like it is a part of his body, like he doesn’t even have to think about playing, it just happens.
Folk music has always been passed along to newer generations. Some artists perform them exactly like the originals and some add some lyrics or change the music slightly. There are dozens of examples of that taking place. Why make a thing out of it concerning BobDylan? He never said he wrote those songs so how could it be stealing? Why not just call them covers like everybody else? Judging from his enormous body of work which includes many masterpieces, how would anyone think he would need to steal a song. Using ideas and even lines and musical patterns and melodies has always been a common and expected practice in folk music. Actually, you can probably find hundreds of examples of similarities between songs within all genres.
Thank you so much for covering Bob Dylan, my favorite artist!
My three guitar heros: George Castro, my wife worked at the native american clinic in Milwaukee, she wanted me to go to a bar to hear the husband of one of the patients. I thought oh yeah this will be great, not! Was I wrong! This guy can play like Jimmy Hendricks or Stevie Ray Vaughn. Frank Montano (Native american) went to see him at Folklore Village, Dodgeville, WI. His guitar sounded so sweet I asked him what it was: A Taylor 414-CE, I bought one. Finally Daniel James McMahon who plays with Miles Nielsen and The Rusted Hearts, this guy is an amazing guitar player!
I like his music a lot and still listen to it just to remember what it was like to hear someone that was inspired to write, but i think it would have been better to focus on some of his song that had inspired him to write about what was on his mind at the time (not the hits) through the 60,s and 70,s, and dig deep into his albums to find them
Was the Molly Tuttle streak broken?
Huh, seems that I never heard of “Molly Tuttle” before ‘Joining muhself Up wit da ‘Geeks?’ ‘ Just a few weeks now, but I Have learned “Tony’s Big Trick” ! I, for One, cannot Pickup my guitar, try to learn Anything totally new…..and Just “Stop?” In 10 minutes! More like 60 min., unless Tony gets me ‘inspired’ to enter ‘that mindless State of Flow’ …then ‘time’ is Gone, might be hours? idunno!
Right! “Molly Tuttle”, I ‘was’ not ‘really’ UP on ‘Bluegrass’ unless it’s named “Doc” etc. ?? But, Hey now, what with the ‘Best ‘Bluegrass’ Guitars’ , front, left and center, here? Have I been railroaded into joining up with a ‘Cult’ of Bluegrassers? Being uhm… Introspective, now: “Does That matter?”, ‘Are ‘they’ Not always the Best ‘Pickers’ anywhere?, and last : ‘Why would ‘I’ even Care, at This level where I’m At? Huheck, I just wanna play like “John Prine” (could be wrong, but don’t believe that HE was doin’ much ‘real fancy pickin’, just playing his Own great songs!) Hope Nobody went and buried HIM “in that cold, cold ground” !? HE did say “Please don’t….” in his 20’s!! My #1 ?
I attended the Gamble Rogers Folk Festival at St. Augustine, Fl., maybe ten to twelve years back. Ritchie Havens was a headliner. In front of God and the entire audience, Havens claimed he wrote: ” All Along the Watchtower” in the Village days. And, he said Bob Dylan stole it from him. I, of course, have no idea as to the truth or lack of truth in that statement. But, it is what Havens said. And, he didn’t stutter. He also went on to say the theft didn’t matter because the Hendrix version was the version of the master.
The audio of the Play back ar too loud compare too your vocal
Surprised you never heard of Jesse Fuller. Another of his you may recognize: San Francisco Bay Blues.
Hi Tony, thanks for all you do for guitar geeks like me. Love the Lowden F50c. I should have bought a Lowden when I first played one years ago at Elderly Instruments in Lansing, MI. They were much less expensive then.
Guitar Heroes, great question. My first and most important guitar hero never played the guitar. My older brother Paul got me interested in Folk and acoustic music when I was 14, which led to my first guitar. Through the years I would play and he would sing great harmony. I lost him last year and will always miss those times. Next was Bob Gibson, who inspired me to get a 12 string and whose songs, recorded along with Bob Camp, my brother and I would sing. Finally, Peter Yarrow. He inspired me to learn finger picking and to buy my first Martin and further inspired me through the years with his music and his activism and dedication to important social causes in the spirit of Woody Guthrie. Had the great joy of meeting him in person a few years ago. Thanks again for the show, for TAC and for being an unashamed guitar geek.
Guitar Heroes, I can start with four…
1. My brother Tim. Tim was always a great musician, from the time he was about 8 years old. Band instruments at first and eventually guitar and bass. He was an assistant sound engineer at A&M in the 80’s. The most important thing I learned from Tim’s example is that it is ok to be passionate about music. We bond over music to this day. When John Prine passed away it was my brother who understood how someone I had never met could have such a big impact in my life, and what his passing away meant to me.
2. Chad. Back in the 90’s Chad was the worship leader for our church. While I always knew the worship music was inspiring to me no matter who was performing, Chad’s ability to connect to a song and the congregation made a noticeable difference in how we all worshipped. The impact he had on people was one of the key reasons I decided late in life (age 50) to learn guitar in the first place.
3. Billy, our early 2000’s worship leader. Billy had the audacious idea that it would be a good idea to have me, a neophyte bass player, perform with the worship band. While playing in the band took me way from guitar for several years, It was a great experience to play live and I’ll always be indebted to Billy for allowing me into his music family.
4. Matt, my guitar teacher and friend. I always refer to Matt as ‘the world most patience man’. Kind of a requirement if you have someone like me for a student. Matt is always supportive and provides ‘input’ into everything I do on guitar. He played out with me the first couple of times I did an open mic to get me out their, and he continues to push me along after 14 years together.
Of course there are other professional guitarist that are important to me. I’m a bigger fan of Molly Tuttle than even Tony P (if that is actually possible). Most of the guitar players I listen to I’ve been introduced to by Tony, which makes him one of the heroes of my guitar journey. TAC, Fretboard Wizard, ALF, and Jam Club (Deeny, your a hero too) are a big part of my life now. Thanks to Tony and the TAC gang. I’m grateful for it all.
I listened to Bob Dylan a lot, but my prime inspiration is Jimmy Ibbottson former member of Nitty Gritty Dirt band https://youtu.be/3ao5MWg3SaM He gives some of his personal history. Truly inspiring
Thank you Tony for taking us back to Dylan’s spectacular first album. Less successful, with many more covers than later albums, but so much energy and musical magic. Well worth listening from beginning to end. Wonderful to hear the old blues & folk godfathers who inspired this album. Many of these legendary musicians suffered from discrimination, lived in poverty, and were never given the credit they deserved for their wonderful music. Dylan’s early work paid tribute to them, and encouraged people to discover & listen to the pioneers who inspired rock ‘n’ roll in the 50s, and folk & blues rock from the 60s onwards.
Tony, love your stuff, but… the whole pretense for this episode is embarrassingly thin. Did Dylan steal these tunes… or did Tony simply fail to notice the original composer credits on his favorite Dylan album… or did Tony just chose to gin-up the come-on for this weeks episode because he was out of other ideas??? You could have simply gone the way of homage to Dylan’s inspirations but, what, that wasn’t sexy enough? Still love ya… but gotta be honest. Jim
# Guitar Hero’s
1. My cousin Jim Armour who got me interested in guitar when I was just 7 years old. Jim was a longtime member of The Friends of Fiddler’s Green Folk Club in Toronto and now has videos on Another Bloody Folk Club’s website. He also has CD recording of original songs called “Oink, Oino, Flap, Flap”
2. Gordon Lightfoot
3. Bruce Cockburn
These were my first three big guitar hero’s.
Can’t believe that a hockey playing, Canadian loving, guitar geek like Tony has never heard of Stan Rogers!!! There is a documentary movie about his life and career. More recently his brother, Garnet Rogers, wrote a book, Night Drives (Travels With My Brother) which is probably the best account of life on the road for talented but struggling roots musicians.
Other honourable mentions must go to fellow Albertans: Bill Bourne, James Keelaghan, and Corb Lund
I have to say that I cam very disappointed with your headline and your Acoustic Tuesday #138 for how you are pitching it. But the music and the links to these great artists is valuable and thank you for that – you did not need to sell the episode the way you have. Although it is great that you are showing the lineage of these songs and that is all fine and good you ask the question if Dylan is a song thief. And you already know the answer (or you should). As John Prine says in his song “Far from me” – a question, ain’t really a question, if you know the answer too” . You claim that your research shows that these songs were written and performed by other artists. I am surprised that you did not know this. But it is clear that Dylan did not steal these songs and he acknowledged the sources in the liner notes. For example:
The liner notes state: “The number that opens this album, “You’re No Good,” was learned from Jesse Fuller, the West coast singer. Its vaudeville flair and exaggeration are used to heighten the mock anger of the lyrics.” It’s great that you are sending people to listen to Jesse Fuller – but this is not shocking and is not stealing. It is well-known and clear in the liner notes. This is the same with the other songs. The liner notes are remarkable. For example they state that “Dylan had never sung “In My Time of Dyin'” prior to this recording session. He does not recall where he first heard it. The guitar is fretted with the lipstick holder he borrowed from his girl, Susie Rotolo, who sat devotedly and wide-eyed through the recording session.”
“Man of Constant Sorrow” is a traditional Southern mountain folk song of considerable popularity and age, but probably never sung quite in this fashion before. The liner notes state that “”Song to Woody,” is another original by Bob Dylan, dedicated to one of his greatest inspirations, and written much in the musical language of his idol.”
Again – hats off to you for highlighting this great album and the artists that Dylan borrowed from, copied, emulated, and the artists that inspired him and he paid tribute to. As Pete Seger has famously said, this is not stealing, it is the folk music process.
There is a lot of great information in the linear notes. Maybe the problem is that with streaming music as the dominant source of listening to music – there is not easy access to this kind of information. So maybe it is fair to say that it requires research. This Dylan website has liner notes and other great information: http://www.bobdylan.com/albums/bob-dylan/
I haven’t scrolled to see if anyone else mentioned this but don’t you show two pictures of Blind Willie McTell, the 12-string master, instead of Blind Willie Johnson, the slide master?
When he heard Dylan sing “Song to Woody” in his hospital room, Woody must have smiled because he recognized the melody.
Tony, I am very disappointed in your critical approach. Are you trying to get Jim Acosta’s job at fake news network? There is way to much negativity in the world today. Acoustic Tuesday should be Positive! Dylan was just spreading blues to a new audience. It was a different atmosphere in the 60’s your generation doesn’t understand.
My guitar hero’s are Jimmy Hendrix James Taylor and Bonnie raitt
Dylan’s version of Highway 51 starts out like Wake Up Little Susie by the Everly Brothers. 🙂
Hi Tony,just saw 138 show.i love the musicians you turned me into.beautiful musicians.you expanded my mind to other guitar greats.i never heard a bob Dylan song in my life.i went to coffee stops were he would play in New York,in Greenwich village in manhattan.but I never heard a song.just was never interested.but today I will.to open my mind to different music.i might now a song or two,but not a big fallowed.my favorite guitar players are my two guitar players in high school.both are great artist.my second would be ingwie malmsteen,I love his music,and he plays beautifully,my third choice would be dimebag darlye.i picked him because,I love the music he played,and he would make the guitar scream.amazing.checking out his riffs,amazing.thank you Tony see you next week.,👍🎤🌟😁🎸💗🤘