In praise of a music critic who knows his history
When I was in high school, I listened to Bob Dylan’s On the Road. My musical tastes haven’t changed much since then, and it would be hard to find several songs so rich with meaning and symbolism as this one.
I’m not surprised—Bob Dylan has been in my consciousness since high school. This song has haunted me for most of my life, and at times, I even still hear it as if it’s still playing in my head.
Now, Dylan has been dead for over 30 years, but he continues to inspire me. It’s fascinating that one of the most popular artists of the 20th century (and arguably the first American rock star to break through to the mainstream) has managed to continue to affect and move other people for decades after his death.
Like a lot of people who grew up in the 60s, I didn’t really understand Dylan’s music, but I knew I didn’t like everything that he sounded like. He was a good blues singer, but he wasn’t like other blues singers, and that was a problem. No one could make up a song like “Like a Rolling Stone” or “Like a Rolling Stone” so quickly without really being able to articulate why he was doing it. Dylan was a much greater poet than he was a songwriter. And he was a great songwriter, but there were times when he seemed more interested in creating songs than making them.
And when people hear “Like a Rolling Stone”—and I’m not talking about the song being interpreted in that way when you’re standing on the corner or in the club—they either don’t get it at all or get it, but they think there’s no way it could be true.
I’m not saying that Dylan is a perfect songwriter or that he makes up songs like “Like a Rolling Stone,” but no song better illustrates the problem with the Rolling Stone stereotype. And for that reason, it’s not a good way to represent a rock star.
This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t write about people you don�