Kasey Anderson’s recommendation: “I know that citing Bob Dylan as an influence is like citing Thomas Edison as ‘an influential inventor,’ but the fact of the matter is I spend an immense amount of time listening to, and thinking about, Bob Dylan’s work. There are other writers whose work I find inspirational and influential but Dylan is just wired differently than anyone else; he’s plugged in to a socket that most of us will never have access to.
When you’re talking about Dylan, it’s really easy to pull examples from that maddeningly prolific period from 1964 – 1966 where he churned out The Times They Are A-Changin’, Another Side of Bob Dylan, Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited, and Blonde On Blonde – stop and think about that for a second; he released five of the 100 best records of all time in a span of a little over TWO YEARS – but, for me, Dylan’s greatest contribution to songwriting is not that thin, wild, mercury sound or those unbelievably vivid stream-of-consciousness explorations of society and self, but the way he drew from everyone and everything that came before him, synthesized all of it, and created the most unique lyrical voice (and, for that matter, the most unique singing voice) in music.”
New to Bob Dylan? Kasey suggests you start here: “As great as the aforementioned five records are, and as great as a handful of other records in Dylan’s catalogue are (Blood On the Tracks, Street Legal, and Oh, Mercy! come to mind), Love and Theft stands out as the record that exemplifies everything I love about Dylan. His singing is fantastic. Fantastic. Listen to the way he delivers a line and try to tell me Bob Dylan can’t sing. He may be the best rock ‘n’ roll singer alive. The band, as always, is phenomenal; there’s so much going on musically but it’s cohesive and limber and brilliant. And then, Dylan’s writing. He steals from everyone – old blues singers, ancient poetry, masterpieces of literature, the Bible – but he does so in such a fashion that it doesn’t seem like theft (though it’s right there in the album’s title), but homage. That’s what makes Dylan great. He’s fooling all of us without even trying. People spend their entire lives excavating Dylan’s lyrics for some insight in to who Bob Dylan is, but it’s all right there. Dylan is the culmination of everything and everyone that came before, and he has influenced everyone and everything that has come along since. There are some phenomenal young songwriters out there to discover (Joe Pug and Ben Knox Miller of The Low Anthem chief among them), but you don’t have to listen for longer than five seconds before you hear Dylan’s influence. For that reason, and a million others, it would be disingenuous to write about my influences without writing about Bob Dylan. There’s Dylan, then there’s everyone else. That’s how it’s always going to be.”
About our guest author, Kasey Anderson: Click over to Kasey Anderson’s press page and you’ll find the likes of Paste Magazine and Oregon Music News calling him ‘a masterful storyteller’ and ‘a litereate workingman’s poet.’ Anderson grew up in North Portland and Vancouver and he recorded his latest record, Nowhere Nights in that area. The album features I Was a Photograph (audio below), the tale of Lance Cpl. James Blake Miller and his lonely road back from Iraq. You’ll hear hints of Springsteen and Earle, and of course, Dylan in Anderson’s delivery, but all through Anderson’s North Western filter. Anderson’s tour page will tell you where you can catch this rising singer/songwriter live.
MP3: I Was a Photograph by Kasey Anderson