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Dylan way overrated

November 26, 2004

As a writer most of my life, I love words as much as musicians love notes. But when you let readers (and I love them, too) throw words around like they were rewriting the Bible and the Gettysburg Address, I sometimes wonder if all the editors at 34 Blvd. of the Allies are on strike or on drugs.

Matt Oberleitner ("Only one Dylan," Feedback, Nov. 19), who claims to be a musician, elevates Bob Dylan to the musical acropolis of "the greatest songwriter in history" (pardon me while I retch). Doesn't he realize that the accolade consigns hacks such as Stephen Foster, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Bach, Handel and Beethoven to the musical dustbin of history? (Give me a break, Matt!)

Then, adding insult to injury, Maestro Matt canonizes Dylan as "single-handedly the greatest musician to ever live" (pause for another trip to the bathroom).

Realizing, finally, that not everyone shares his enthusiasm for modern noise, he says, "I'll give you one thing, his songs are unrecognizable" (amen!).

Beethoven wrote his Fifth Symphony almost 200 years ago, and I'll bet that almost 90 percent of the civilized world recognize not only the first three notes of that classic, but every note that follows it. Two hundred years from now, no one will remember how to spell Dylan's name.

Dylan could spend the rest of his life writing his "great songs," and they wouldn't last as long as Hitler's Third Reich.

Jack O'Neil

November 26, 2004 in Arts | Permalink


Only one Dylan

Dear John McIntire, after reading your letter published in Friday's paper explaining how bad Bob Dylan was last Sunday at Petersen Events Center, I was pretty amused.

Then, a co-worker pointed out that you were serious, and I was dumbfounded. I would just like to point out a few things, John.

First off, I'm not sure what you expected to see, whether it was a 20-year-old Bob Dylan singing or what, but believe it or not, HE'S 60. A 60-year-old, lifetime smoker playing ANY music is pretty impressive to me. Dylan is almost old enough to collect Social Security, let alone tour the country with his band, pretty impressive indeed.

Second, I'll give you one thing: his songs are unrecognizable, but I don't think that's the point. As a musician, I am more interested in seeing the greatest songwriter in history perform than hear him play his 30-year-old songs perfectly.

My last comment is also to the Post-Gazette, who captioned Dylan's photo with "Bob Dylan: Past his Prime?" Past his prime? Is that even possible? Was Thomas Jefferson "past his prime" after he wrote the Constitution?

Was Darwin "past his prime" after he theorized evolution? Was Jonas Salk "past his prime" after he discovered the polio vaccine? Ben Franklin, Henry David Thoreau, Sir Isaac Newton, Mahatma Gandhi. Where any of these men ever "past their prime"? No, they weren't.

Bob Dylan is single-handedly the greatest musician to ever live. I am not concerned with him singing his songs perfectly. In fact, I'd pay the $50 to watch him stand on stage and do nothing at all. $50 is a small testament to a man that saved music, so stop whining, John McIntire, and feel lucky to see who you did. There won't be another one like him.

Matt Oberleitner

Posted by: Matt Oberleitner | November 26, 2004 02:57 PM

It's alive! It's alive!

Posted by: You | November 26, 2004 09:18 PM

Dear Swicklet - Re Dylan, how would you know? What is your authority? Since when did one bitter fool's opinion matter a damn next one of the greats in his field? I charitably submit that you are a fool, I don't know you personally so I don't know if you are an idiot, but it sure seems possible. Why don't you take up cooking, or reviewing Paris Hilton's literary odyssey? It sound like it would be more your speed than attempting to comprehend what you cannot, Mr. Bob Dylan.
(The ago of one man's opinion is over and your mention of some Reich reveals your true intent, so I call you Sir Bigot Fascist.)

Posted by: Jiminy Cricket | December 4, 2004 05:02 PM

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